After over 30 years teaching in schools, it can be hard to step out of the mind frame.

subsWorking as a substitute teacher was exhausting work. Hours of travelling through the winding roads of Scotland, continually having to meet new members of staff and students, meant that I was perpetually in the deep end – something I cherished at the time.

However, when it came to attempting to adjust to life in retirement, I found more challenge in ceasing daily activity than continuing it.

Like all workaholics, I had got used to a certain style of living. A life of perpetual motion was exciting, meeting new people every day was thrilling and I soon found life spent in retirement lacked both of those things.

fastlaneTo break up the endless monotony of retirement, I booked myself a weekend break to Barcelona. I’d heard so many good things about its stunning architecture, vibrant culture and excitable people – it sounded like just the thing to get me out of my rut.

Years of advanced organisation as a substitute teacher meant that I’d developed a crippling habit of over planning. As a result, when it came time to fly out from the North, my bags had been packed and checked for a week, I’d booked my John Lennon Airport parking and my route to John Lennon Airport had been thoroughly planned – with no room for deviation.

I had prepared for pretty much every eventuality – at least that’s what I had thought.

school-tripAs Steinbeck, and his magnanimous readers will no doubt be thinking now: ‘The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.’

What I hadn’t prepared for was a car load of Spanish school children – separated from their group and in desperate need of transportation.

There truly is no rest for the wicked teacher.

Stopping at a service station on the way back from London on the way to Liverpool, they had strayed into a video games arcade and been left behind by their tour bus.

john-lennonLending them my phone to contact their teacher, it was hastily thrust back into my hands as a frantic teacher, hurtling down the motorway 50 miles away and already late for their flight back to Spain, desperately pleaded for me to carry her lost charges the rest of the way.

I’d not had the chance to teach abroad, but eagerly relished the opportunity of helping these kids and a fellow teacher in need, so there began a rather strange road trip with Pedro, Rodrigo, and Santo.

My Spanish was poor and their English wasn’t great, but we just about managed.

Having to control them on a couple of occasions, they were otherwise very well behaved – singing songs and listening attentively to the chatter of the radio DJ.

We had to travel at break neck speed to get to Liverpool on time and their teacher was waiting for us at the Terminal when we arrived. Frantically thanking me and shaking my hand, she ushered off her excited students to their gate.


My holiday in Barcelona was pleasant. The buildings were beautiful. The culture was vibrant and the people were excitable, but the most excitement I had was on the road trip to the airport.

I decided to continued to work as a cover teacher throughout my retirement.

A couple of classes a week are great to keep me mentally active and on my toes. Although kids can be a hassle, I’ll always have a soft spot for them.

And the classes of Scotland will always be in need of teachers.