Many many moons ago, in 1980 in fact, I attended the University of Guelph in Canada. I took a double major in English Literature and Music and enjoyed my time in Guelph tremendously. One reason for this was the fact that most people I met were kind to me; and secondly, I thought that the teaching ability of most of the academic staff who taught me was superb.
A few months back, I received an email from a couple who hail from Guelph. They were looking for accommodation in the Lake District and had written to ask us if we had any availability this week. Well, the couple is presently staying with us at Blenheim Lodge, and speaking with them has really brought back some wonderful memories.
However, what has prompted this post is the fact that the world does really seem quite small when we take into account the total number of people we must meet in our lives. Whilst chatting with the couple, I happened to mention that my former thesis supervisor at the University of Guelph was John Bligh. I told how he and his wife used to kindly invite me to their house for dinner now and again.
The next thing I heard was, ‘It must be Nancy Bailey Bligh.’ Doing a double take, since I could not believe that I had heard correctly, I asked the lady to repeat what she had said. It was indeed John Bligh’s wife that she knew. What a small world it is indeed!
Memories of my days at the University of Guelph has made me feel rather nostalgic for my studies there for some reason. I remember taking classes with Dr Bligh, who not only acted as my thesis supervisor but also taught a class on the Bible as Literature. He was an excellent teacher, and I truly looked forward to my classes with him.
Another professor who taught well was Dr Stuart Hunter. I can still see him in my mind at the head of the classroom, teaching his students how to craft an essay. In the introduction, one should tell the reader what one’s thesis is about. In the body of the essay, one should develop one’s thesis. Finally, in the conclusion, one should re-cap and point out that one has argued one’s points effectively. When I was helping my kids with their lessons, I used Dr Hunter’s model and told them to follow it.
Another member of staff who made a great impact on me was Anya Lawrence. I felt so privileged to be studying with a concert pianist, who was an excellent teacher to boot. I remember practising like a dervish particularly before auditions for one of the music bursaries which enabled those who won the opportunity to have free lessons in their musical instrument of choice.
Anya reminded me a little of my last piano teacher in Singapore. She, too, had been a concert pianist. Her patience with me was really rather incredible and had me doing things which I would otherwise not have done willingly. For example, if my nails were too long to play, she would silently hand me the nail clipper. If I had not practised sufficiently, she would sigh dramatically, but not one unkind word would pass her mouth. Thus was I embarrassed into becoming the model pupil. It was a psychological triumph on my tutor’s part – and what a triumph it was!
As the world shrinks due to ever more efficient travel links, I hope one day to re-visit some of my old haunts again. (I had actually returned to Guelph in 1985, this time taking my parents with me so that they could see where I had lived for 2.5 years.) I also hope that Hubby and I may one day be in a position to take up some of the kind invitations to visit extended to us by a number of our international guests. There is so much in the world that I would really like to see; and maybe one day this will become a reality.
Blenheim Lodge . . . panoramic Lake views, peace and tranquillity, nestled against acres of beautiful fields and woodlands, in the heart of the English Lake District National Park.’
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