Saturday, 30 June 2007

oh, and about today

(3rd post today - sorry if I'm spamming your blog readers)
I have the news on in the background and they're talking about the car bomb things and I thought I should say something. I don't feel as though I'm very articulate when it comes to talking about serious things, I blame it on spending the majority of my time with teenagers, but today has been weird enough that I feel compelled to talk about it.
We woke up to the news this morning that Piccadilly Circus and all the streets that led to it were blocked off because they'd found a car bomb. Freaky. Graeme catches the Picadilly line to work, which as you can imagine goes directly under that area. But being Graeme, he seemed totally nonplussed and went off to work, encouraging me to come in and meet him at work for lunch. By the time I went through it, Piccadilly Circus station was open and everyone was just going about their business.
We had our lunch and I headed towards Oxford Street to do some shopping. As I got further along Oxford Street and started to think about how I was going to get home, I realised that the traffic was not moving. I got to Marble Arch and there were police everywhere and a massive chunk of what is basically London's biggest and busiest roundabout was blocked off. Unlike everyone else, I didn't feel the need to hang around and try to see what was going on - it seemed really dumb to me. After what happened this morning, why would you want to be near a potentially dodgy situation? Anyway, the only way it affected me was that all the buses I wanted to catch were stuck in the traffic jam, so I walked a long while (got some good exercise) before I noticed that the buses seemed to be running again and stopped and waited for the next one.

One positive thing I can say is that it is quite impressive how much the British have a "just get on with it" attitude. I guess after Blitzes and IRA bombings and whatever else, they are just used to continuing on with everyday life while potentially fatal situations occur around them. I don't think I'll ever be able to just accept that people could blow up a car as you walk past it in the city.

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A quick work-related update

I feel like this is such boring stuff to write about on my blog all the time, but you seem to want to know, so here's the latest. I got a phone call yesterday from the guy who'd originally set this 3-day-a-week thing up (I hate trying to stay somewhat anonymous, it would be much easier to name the person and the school and all that, but I don't really want this to be searchable). Clearly, he'd got an earful from his manager and was trying to explain himself or something. It just all sounded like excuses and rubbish to me and I basically called him out on it and he clearly got the point that I was peeved. I kinda thought I'd never hear from him again...
Then today, he rings and was really great. Obviously, whatever I'd said yesterday had made him check himself or something. Anyway, it's set up and I will be doing 3 days a week for the rest of the year at that one school. Due to a pre-planned long weekend on our part and the shorter final week of school, it only actually comes out to 7 days, but maybe it will lead to more work or something... we'll see. At least I won't feel bad about spending money in Lisbon this weekend :)

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HP Friday 5

It's been awhile since I did one of these... The last question is one of last week's because one of the questions was pretty much a re-worded question from a previous week.

1. What candy from the books have you always wanted to try?
I can't decide between a Chocolate Frog (because it comes with a famous wizard card) or Fizzing Whizzbees (floating would be fun)
2. What ride would you like to see made at the new HP park that will be opening next year?
A big, inside a warehouse, dark, can't see where you're going type rollercoaster based on going to a Gringott's vault. I've imagined it as an awesome theme park ride ever since I read the first book.
3. What 3 characters would you be willing to go on a roadtrip with?
I'd be willing to get in a car and roadtrip with pretty much any of the characters that are on the good side. I would probably choose Ginny, Luna and Hermione and have a girls adventure - that'd be fun. (I don't mean when they're like 14, I mean the book 7 or later characters)
4. You're given an invisibilty cloak for one week, what do you do with it?
Sneak into places I'm not supposed to be, probably - theatre, concerts, Buckingham Palace...
5. How long do you plan to spend reading DH?
The short answer: as fast as possible.
The long answer...
My DH plan (3 weeks left - squeeee) is as follows:
Have a nap during the day on Friday so I am awake for as long as possible.
Get the book at midnight from the local book store.
Walk home, probably reading the first chapter as I go.
Read as much as I can until I am practically asleep sometime on Saturday morning.
Sleep for as long as my mind allows (it will be focused on getting back up and finishing).
Finish reading as quickly as possible, avoiding the internet, tv, radio and all other outside contact. After some of the things people did when book 6 was released, I'm taking no chances - I will be so annoyed if anything gets spoiled for me.
Then on Sunday or Monday I will probably start a slower, more thorough re-read.

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Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Because photos make me happy

and I haven't posted one on here in awhile, here's a ladybird from our garden.


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So annoyed right now...

...I don't really feel like writing a blog post, but I figured it would be easier than explaining it to people individually. So, some of you knew that I got a phone call last week offering me 3 days a week at one school for the rest of the year (which is actually only 4 weeks, but as my aim is to work at least 10 days before the end of the year, it's perfect). I was hesitant to accept, because it was a bit of a hike - over an hour by public transport and who knows how long by car in London's peak hour traffic - but I was assured that I could consider today a trial and needn't go back if I didn't have a good day.

Well, turns out I don't actually have a choice either way. The agency dude obviously fed me a pack of rubbish to try and get me there so he'd his commission cheque or something. The school does need someone 3 days a week, but they considered today purely a trial - no guarantee of any further work. In fact, they've got someone else coming in later in the week to do a trial day for the same position, which seems a bit ridiculous to me when they are clearly seeking some continuity in this particular situation, but that's their choice, and I'm not annoyed at them for running their school the way they want to. I am annoyed at the guy from the teaching agency though and when I rang to find out what the hell was going on and spoke to his manager instead, I had no problems telling him how pissed off I was (don't worry, I was very civil and proper and didn't actually use any inappropriate words).

And it REALLY sucks, because it actually seems like a pretty nice place to work and the 10 or so days of work would have made some progress towards me feeling better about my whole situation. Seriously though, if they don't pull their act together, I will be signing up with another agency before publicly outing the name and details of this crappy agency and actively discouraging everyone I know from doing business with them.

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Monday, 25 June 2007

Shrek the Third

Although it's not officially released until Thursday, we went and saw Shrek the Third yesterday afternoon. It wasn't as good as the first two. By animated-movies-aimed-at-kids standards, it was still pretty good, but it didn't live up to its predecessors at all. I don't even know how strongly I'd encourage seeing it in the cinema, especially if it's going to be an expensive outing for you. I'm not sure how to quantify why I didn't enjoy it as much... They broke from some of their own formulas - there wasn't as much music, it started with a series of LONG scenes rather than some snappy little thing that set the tone, the jokes weren't as clever or as funny - and yet re-used gags that were done with, like the whole switching bodies thing (I don't think that spoils anything). It kind of felt like they tried to tell too many stories at once, yet somehow there were really slow bits. It didn't start OR end with a bang of any sort. I remember seeing the first one and thinking it was awesome. Then seeing the second and couldn't believe they'd managed to make it even better. If the stories Graeme is telling me about them making a 4th and 5th are true, I really hope they get some of the magic back.
Oh, but the babies, both dragon/donkey and ogre, are totally adorable.

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Thursday, 21 June 2007

The Catcher in the Rye

I know this is supposed to be a classic and all that, but I didn't love it. To be honest, I had no idea what it was actually about and only read it because it was on my list. Don't get me wrong, I didn't hate it either, in fact I kind of feel a bit 'meh' about the whole thing. I guess I just expected more. I liked the style - first-person, conversational, willing to go on major sidetracks. I also really enjoyed the half-italicised words so you knew exactly where the emphasis was supposed to be, giving it a real voice. But it didn't feel like a complete story or something. Then again, maybe that's why its so classic and I'm just an uncultured swine.

Now I need to get back to Harry Potter, or I won't get them all re-read before book 7 is released (in one month and 5 hours time)

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Wednesday, 20 June 2007

I love getting mail

Today there were 3 things in the mail and none of them were bills and all of them were for me (even though one had Graeme's name on it).
The first was a postcard from that swap I was talking about; no-one has got the ones from me yet, so I still can't post pictures. I guess I could post pictures of the ones I've received (3 so far, I should get at least 2 more) but taking and uploading photos seems like too much effort right now.
The second was to tell me that my cervical screening test was clear, which might be something my male readers (like my brothers and dad) don't want to think about and isn't really that exciting, but it's a few weeks past when they said I'd have my results and I was thinking I'd have to chase it up. Plus, news like that is always good, right?
Finally, the one addressed to Graeme was my free Sharpie - a light blue one. Now, I already have a lot of Sharpies (I bought a pack of 18 different colours when we were in the States), I even have this colour already, but I couldn't pass up a free pen, could I? They seem to be introducing them properly into the UK market and there was one of those interactive ads on sky where you press the red button while the ad is playing and they send you out a freebie, or you enter a competition or whatever else they use it for.
So yeah, I love getting mail. And I love sending it out too, even though I've been a bit slack about that lately. Anyone want to be my pen-pal?

In other news, I feel a bit like the Girl who cried Sick because I haven't worked since Monday last week. I had most of last week off because I felt crummy, but now that I'm REALLY sick (just a bad flu as far as I can tell, but with hay fever as well, so I really feel like crap) I kind of feel like I was just being a big baby last week. The problem with supply teaching is that there is no way I can face a day of work if I don't feel up to scratch. If I was working full time, I probably would've gone to work last week and survived - I could've set some low key work and relied on the knowledge that I knew pretty much what was coming at me. This week though, I'd still be in my pyjamas on the couch like I am now.

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Monday, 18 June 2007

This is what happens when you're sick

A quick update:
Monday - worked
Tuesday - Graeme felt sick, we both stayed home. Still went out to the theatre though, which might've been a mistake...
Wednesday - Now we both were sick
Thursday - Graeme went back to work (another mistake), I stayed in bed half the day and was very unproductive for the rest.
Friday - Graeme felt worse again, but still went to work, silly boy. I stayed in and attempted to recover.

After that week, you can probably imagine that we didn't do much this weekend. Graeme worked on reformatting his computer (and all the backing-up and then re-installing that that involves) and I did some of my scrapbook, which is woefully behind, and made some postcards for my first ever online swap, which I can't show you until they reach their destinations (Canada, New Zealand and the USA). I kinda felt bad, since I haven't even sent my friends and family any postcards since we came here, but it was the perfect little project to try out this whole swapping thing. I liked doing it though, so there might be some handmade postcards in your future (well, those of you whose addresses I have, which I admit is not that many).

Anyway, that is why the somewhat regular posting habit that I was establishing fell to pieces this week.... Now, on to the play review.

Boeing Boeing is set in the 60s, right when Boeing were introducing the 747. There's a playboy guy that lives in Paris and has a rotation of 3 flight attendants that spend their layovers in Paris at his house. He is engaged to all of them and none of them know about the others. It is working fine, until Boeing introduce their new plane, which means faster travel and turnaround times. And, of course, whackiness ensues. The best characters are the maid and the friend of the playboy, who have fantastic reactions to the whole situation. Some of it does feel dated, but all the old bitties in the audience loved it :) It was funny, if a bit predictable, and was kind of like watching a romantic comedy on a stage instead of a screen.

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Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Weekend Report

(since people have been asking questions - makes me feel interesting, at least)

Saturday morning we got up and went to the Bedford Park Festival - a little community event on the green (that's what they call all their open park/grassy areas) organised by one of the local churches, at least that's the impression I got. It was one of those things that you kind of walk away feeling it had so much potential and just didn't really live up to it, if that makes any sense. There were craft stalls and a stage and amusements and a 5-a-side football comp, yet there was nothing that enticed us to stay for any longer than it took us to walk from one side to the other.

Instead we went to the high street, grabbed some lunch and some bits and pieces and headed home. We spent some time on the internet - booked our travel and accommodation in Edinburgh for when we go to the Tattoo (we're catching the train :D) then bought some tickets for Ocean's 13. Went and saw it at the local cinema and, apart from the annoying people who insisted on sitting right next to us despite the empty seats and the woman sitting next to me who smelt so strongly of cigarette smoke I started to get a headache, quite enjoyed it. I'm not too sure how I feel about the film - I think the fact that it was their third heist made it quite predictable at times, because you know what sort of tricks they play and how characters will react, but it still had the Ocean's cleverness and humour - the exchange in the airport at the end is classic.

Sunday we did washing and exciting things like that, eating whatever we had left in the house because neither of us felt like going out at all. We decided to order pizza for dinner, proof that advertising works - we were watching The Simpsons (the 400th episode aired last night - a bit ho-hum really) and it's sponsored by Dominos - so we ordered online, using a coupon that gave us 50% off if we spent £30. Yes, that is a lot of money to spend on pizza. And no, we didn't only order pizza - we got salad, chicken things, a garlic bread/pizza, dessert and a drink as well. We had leftovers for dinner tonight it was so much food. Then we played Zelda on the wii. Well, I played while Graeme instructed me how to get past a bit I was stuck at and then he played while I read a book.

And that was our weekend.

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Sunday, 10 June 2007

The Drowsy Chaperone

That's the name of the show we saw on Friday night and we LOVED it. Problem is, that part of what made it so great was that we didn't really know what to expect, so I don't feel as though I should write too detailed a review because I don't want to potentially spoil it for anyone.

To sum it up in similar terms to what I had read before I went in, a middle-aged guy puts on the record of his favourite cast recording, The Drowsy Chaperone and suddenly the 1920s musical comes to life in his apartment. I guess it's categorised as a musical comedy and it lives up to both elements - there are some great 20s style musical numbers and the whole thing is hilarious. The unique approach to telling the story and to musical theatre in general is great and makes it instantly stand out from the other things we saw this week.

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Saturday, 9 June 2007

When it rains, it pours

Well actually, that's not really the case here... when it rains it's mostly a horrible drizzly rain that goes on and on - light enough that an umbrella seems a hassle, but heavy enough that you get quite wet if you're in it too long. But I wasn't actually referring to the weather.

Yeah, so suddenly things are not just looking better, but like 100 times better. It's Summer and the weather is finally starting to feel like it - I carried, not wore, my jacket all evening tonight, even though we got home after 11. My police check came through, my paperwork got sorted and I got my first day of work in almost 6 months. We didn't only go to the West End once this week. Or twice, like I already reported - we went again tonight! (report to follow, tomorrow probably) We are also going again on Tuesday night. Today, Graeme got us tickets to the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, which means we get to go to Scotland again (I like Scotland). We're thinking of catching the train to Edinburgh (from Kings Cross - yes, the Harry Potter fan is quite excited by this idea) because if we book soon, it will probably be cheaper than driving. We just have to work out the whole accommodation-in-Edinburgh-at-festival-time thing.

Anyway, I just figured I'd posted so many depressing posts lately that I should post one to confirm that things are indeed getting better. OK, bye.

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Friday, 8 June 2007

West End addict

So far this week, we have seen both Fame and Little Shop of Horrors on the West End. And guess what? The tickets were only £5 each, of course. Best part of Graeme's job by far is the cheap theatre tickets, well, at least from my perspective. We're getting pretty good at co-ordinating our meeting time, finding the theatres without maps and knowing which places nearby we can get dinner in whatever time frame we have before the show. My collection of programmes is getting quite large (again - I already took a bunch home at Christmas) and we've realised that there are very few current shows left that we really want to see. Anyway, enough boasting - how were the shows...?

I remember seeing Little Shop of Horrors performed by the local high school when I was in about year 5, but I don't remember a whole lot about it, other than my babysitter was one of the shoop-shoop girls. I definitely didn't remember the ending, which I knew was different to the film version, but had forgotten how different. I like the stage ending better - too many stories end up predictably happy, I think. I really enjoyed this show - there was a great atmosphere in the theatre, the stage looked awesome and the actors were all great. It was funny and didn't take itself too seriously.

Fame was a little confusing at first - I guess it was because we knew virtually nothing about it and so weren't sure if it was supposed to be a stage version of the film or what. I quickly worked out (and confirmed later in the programme) that it's set in the same real-life performing arts school as the film, but several years later, when all the kids who attend have seen the film and therefore really expect to become stars by going to the school. There was some very impressive dancing, and although some of the actors were clearly twice as old as the characters they were playing and the plot lines sometimes seemed overly simplified, it was very enjoyable. Both Graeme and I agreed that the girl playing Mabel stole the show (which had nothing at all to do with the fact she was Australian, honest). I dunno that I'd be happy if I'd paid £55 for the tickets though (yeah, that's how much the top-price tickets are - per person) but it was still a good night out.

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I walked home from work this afternoon - how sweet is that? I wish I could always work within walking distance of home. Yep, you read right, I worked today. I had basically decided I wasn't going to get a call this morning and was just settling in to go back to sleep when my phone rang at 8.10am. Yeah, talk about late notice - and he didn't even know what time classes started. Luckily the school was very close by (as in, the bus that stops right near our house also stops out the front of the school, close) and the school day didn't actually start 'til 9am. So with my mad running around to get ready and lucky bus timing, I got to the school about 30 minutes after I got the call and actually had to kill time in the staffroom. So yeah, I'm proper working again now (well, as proper as supply teaching can be), earning pretty damn good money for a 7 hour day. The saga to get work is over and I'm probably not going to write here about work too much anymore. I'd rather write about funner things, like my next post I'm about to write (which most of you will probably read first, but whatever)...

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Monday, 4 June 2007

Some Good News

My police check came through and my paperwork can actually be finalised. The girl I spoke to today was hopeful that I'd have some work by the end of the week. Not letting my hopes get too high though, it is getting close to the end of the year and I know supply teachers are usually in lower demand. Plus, we can't discount the fact that the agency still needs to get everything sorted.

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London 2012 - ewwww

So, they've unveiled the logo for the 2012 Olympics and I think its awful. And I think I have a right to feel somewhat well-informed about good logo design, since I studied design at university and all. Admittedly, it wasn't purely Graphics that I studied, but we did do some brand development stuff and I now use logos/brand development as one of my favourite ways to study design with teenagers. If one of those teenagers brought me this as their design, I'd tell them to go back and work on it some more...

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Weekend Report

On Friday night, we decided we should actually do something this weekend, so yesterday we went to Canterbury. We basically saw the cathedral and that was it. Although our odd tourist luck kicked in once again and we managed to turn up on the only weekend when a bunch of their usually private gardens and stuff were open to raise money for charity - we even saw one of their ministers collecting rhubarb from her garden for dinner. I had a bad camera day though, trying out a bunch of things that didn't really work, so I'm not sure I'm happy to stick any of my photos up - I'll have another look at them in the morning though. And I'll write up a proper report for our website.

Since we were over that side of London, we went back to Bluewater (the big shopping centre), the main motivation for which was that Graeme wanted TGI Friday's for dinner. We wandered the shops but didn't buy much - why are all the clothes at the moment so ugly or expensive or both? Of course, we bought some dvds. That's pretty much our spending staple and the reason we still have a bunch of movies I haven't seen. We had dinner and drove home...

...where we crashed and watched Clerks II. I have to say, I definitely liked it more than the first one. I know Clerks. is all cult-classic and that, but I think the second one was better, although it probably wouldn't be as good if you haven't seen the first. I love how Kevin Smith manages to tie all his films together and use the same actors over again. The fact they work at Mooby's, the cameos he gets, the LOTR vs Star Wars argument - all great. I wouldn't recommend this to anyone who is easily offended though, but that can probably apply to any Kevin Smith film.

Today we slept in late and then ran some errands, including a trip to Ikea. I don't know why I love Ikea so much, but I do. And I have to tell you I was quite happy when I first found out we had one so close by. I mainly bought storage stuff - I can never have enough it seems, especially when we are trying to live in a space about 1/3 the size of the smallest house we'd lived in back in Oz.

This evening we went back to the same church as last week. I have to say, we're not as keen on it as we were last week. I guess it didn't help that we were tired, but we both had pretty major concentration lapses at various points. It was weird though, because the music was better, but the other stuff was worse. We're starting to wonder if its just the English way of doing things or something, that makes things so routine and, well, boring. We've decided to try out what we'd usually consider a bit of an extreme and see how that compares, because maybe a toned down, English version of something like Hillsong will be what we actually want. Maybe not, but its worth the try. And we'll give the one we've been to twice now another chance or two.

And with that, I need to head to bed - I'm planning on starting my (hopefully habit building) 2 weeks of daily jogging/exercise in the morning and it's technically already Monday...

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Friday, 1 June 2007

7 random facts

I was tagged for this meme over on livejournal (don't worry - you're not missing out on anything if you don't read it, I basically never post there, I just use it to read other people's journals and post in communities) but I figured I'd post it here...

The rules: Each person tagged gives 7 random facts about themselves. Those tagged need to write in their blogs the 7 facts, as well as the rules of the game. You need to tag 7 others and list their names on your blog. You have to leave those you plan on tagging a note in their comments so they know that they have been tagged and to read your blog.

1. I basically let my UAI choose which university degree I would get. I didn't know exactly what I wanted to do when I finished high school, so I just sat down with the University courses book thing and picked a bunch of courses at universities all over the state. Then, instead of putting them in the order I wanted to do them, I put them in the order of difficulty to get into. The first offer I got was for a media communications course, but I got a late offer for industrial design and decided to go with that.

2. I get really annoyed when people get all caught up celebrating things like Easter and Christmas - spending lots of money, buying a big pile of gifts, making a once in a year effort to see family, etc - but don't even acknowledge the actual reason for the holiday. I think it's hypocritical and offensive to say you don't believe in God and yet still expect me to spend money on a Christmas present for you.

3. For as long as I can remember, my favourite animal has been the elephant. The more I learn about them, the more awesome I think they are. The main reason I want to visit Africa is to see one in the wild.

4. I'm not that into the news. I think its too depressing. I read the occasional thing online, but only if the headline interests me. If I watch it on tv, its usually CBBC Newsround, which is under 10 minutes long and aimed at kids :) I generally rely on Graeme to keep me up to date on important stuff and I usually am pretty well informed.

5. I love my family. I even like them all most of the time ;) Not all that exciting, but sometimes it feels like we're unusual in today's society - parents still married after 28 years, 4 kids that are all somewhat normal, choosing to spend time together because we actually enjoy each other's company.

6. The 2 TV shows I have to see every week are Lost and Amazing Race. They are about the only things I will break my no-somewhat-dodgy-downloading rule for, since I'm not happy to wait months to see them when I can get them the day after they air in the US. Although, I have to admit that the ability to record shows on our Sky box and watch them later means I have been watching every episode of a couple of other shows recently.

7. I over-think almost everything. It makes my head spin and occasionally keeps me awake at night. It took me ages to write this list.

I tag:
... and you, whoever you are that's reading this. Put a link in the comments so I can read your list.

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