crystal's capers

one girl's international adventures

Friday, January 18, 2008


To my little sis, Rebecca, who was just promoted to MANAGER of her travel agency! All this after being a travel agent for less than 2 years!! What an accomplishment!

We're so proud of you, Bleck!! xoxoxo


The Weeks Past

Well, Riccardo's nearly returned from India. By the end of all of it, I'm actually not that jealous of him anymore. He really did spend nine 14-hour days at the Motor Expo, and he really did only have the one day for sight-seeing. What's more, the one day that Riccardo could tour around was also the one day (a week) that the Taj Mahal is closed! Poor guy! So now he's coming home, exhausted and with a collection of superfun bowel problems. He'll arrive tomorrow, Saturday, morning and then has to begin work again bright and early Monday. Good fun!

I've been busy in his absense. I've spent many-an-eve on the phone discussing wedding-related issues; I applied for another University; I've lesson planned up the wazoo; I've cooked and cleaned by myself, for myself; and, I've hung out with my new friend.

Kam and I share an office at school. She's just 29, but is already head of the Business Studies department at school. As she comes from a Punjabi background (having immigrated to the UK when she was 10), we were both very excited for her to show me an Indian part of town. We went to the Hall Green high street which was amass with Indian fashion shops (tons of gorgeous saris on display!) and Indian grocers! What fun! We then got some delicious Indian junkfood: veggie samosas, pakora and lamb wraps and went back to her place to enjoy! The best part: her place is just an 8 minute drive from ours!

School is going remarkably well. I have to say, I'm actually starting to enjoy it. Finally. I've always liked the lesson planning - even though it forces me to be WAY more organized than I ever was before - but now the classes are starting to go well, too. My worst class, a year 9 group, was reorganized. Some of the worst kids were transferred out, and some nice kids transferred in, and now it's competing for the spot of BEST class. Plus, we're going over really fun and interesting material in all three English classes ('Buddy' by Nigel Hinton; The Tempest by Shakespeare (duh!); and, 6 multicultural short stories by authors like Amy Tan). Of course Psychology is fab as usual. I am already taking on more responsibility: I have a 'mentee' to whom I am the school-based-parent, and they've started picking on me to do cover lessons as well as my own - they've implied that I'm good with even the classes I don't know! ha! But more responsibility means more reason for a raise, and I do deserve a raise. This is the hardest job x10 I've ever done! I still end up a raving loony after every year 11 lessson (which I get to enjoy six times per week), but I think I've decided to take the Uni program to get certified afterall.

It looks like our insurance claim for our two bikes that were stolen will be approved. It won't reimburse exactly what they're worth, but something is better than nothing. Our fish, however, are lost and gone, I think.

Oh, and thanks to everyone who called, sent a card or an email or just thought of me on the 7th. It was a happy birthday, of Japanese dinner and a movie (PS I Love You - god, I cried through the whole damn thing!), cake and champagne, a shopping excursion to Ikea and general pampering. Woe is 28, nonetheless.


Sunday, January 06, 2008

Did I Forget to Mention...

we had our fish stolen?

Yep. Good neighbourhood.

The house we bought came with a small pond which was home to 3 large (foot-long) coy. These coy had happily grown up in this pond without trouble. Riccardo was doing something in the backyard a while back when he glanced in the pond and noticed the orange-and-silver fishies were missing. He called me over, and we both stood over the pond in disbelief. Who would go fishing in our pond!?! What local teenager is going to Ebay 3 large coy (even if they are worth about £50 a piece)??? Of course we checked along the sides to see if they jumped out (maybe the water got to cold for them), and lifted up some plantlife to see if they were hiding (fish can be shy to people they don't know), but no luck.

We did call the police. They suggested a cat got them. Uh, when your fish are almost as large as any cat, I somehow doubt that the local stray is going to carefully catch each fish, and then load them over the 6-foot tall fence. Plus, wouldn't this have happened earlier in their little fishy lives, if it were going to happen at all.

Upon telling my dad about the incident, I was able to put things into perspective; he said,

"Well, of course your fish have been stolen: you're in England! The home of fish-and-chips!"


The Week Since

Dreams of sleeping-in and doing nothing didn't really pan-out in the week since returning from Germany. Somehow we ended up with a packed agenda. I spent two solid days researching the answers to a gazillion wedding-related questions that were posed by friends and family while we were in Germany; and with un-packing, work-preparations, restocking the groceries, cleaning the house, doing eleventy-billion loads of laundry and playing upteen hours of Guitar Hero, we barely had time to sleep!

Unfortunately the friends we had planned to spend New Year's Eve with couldn't make it, but we did enjoy a fabulous 10-course dinner at our favourite Japanese restaurant in downtown Birmingham: Shogun Teppanyaki. We gussied ourselves up and made it an extra special date night, complete with the traditional Jan. 1st hangover. The bill, however, made it abundantly clear that this is a special occassion restaurant only.

Riccardo returned to work on Wednesday, and like a good wifey, I got up with him every day (although he only woke me for breakfast, at 8:00, so it wasn't that bad). He's been working hard to prepare for his conference in India, for which he'll depart at about 3:00am on Tuesday morning. Ugh. Then I'll be all alone for about 12 days. :( At least he fandangled it so that he wouldn't be away on my birthday!

Last night we had planned to have our House-warming party in conjunction with my birthday party; at the last minute we decided that too many of the potential guests were busy or out of town so we postponed it until the end of the month (we are also kind of hoping to have the exuberant Dave-and-Anne combo be able to attend on this new date, as they MAY be visiting us here - although we haven't actually been able to contact them about their plans while Anna is here from New Zealand **hint, hint**). Instead, we invited Riccardo's work friend, Andrew, and my work friend, Kam over for dinner. The night involved some yummy stilton fusilli, cheesecake, Balderdash, and yes, Guitar Hero. Good times; thanks to those two for coming!

Because Riccardo will have to get to bed fairly early tomorrow for his long journey to New Delhi, we've opted to celebrate my birthday tonight. He's taking me for dinner-and-a-movie in Solihull. My choice, of course. I think we'll either dine at Wagamama - a Japanese noodle bar, or TGIFridays.

Thanks to Mom and Rebecca for the presents. Just so you know, I spent the money at Ikea on a beautiful chair (just like the beige one I had before, only in chocolate) and a huge vase with some brown sticks in it - I'll try to remember to send/post pics. Loving them! The 'lounge' will look SOOOO good once we get rid of this hideous caramel & terracotta wallpaper...

...technically, it is now 'next year' so I can start thinking about tearing that wallpaper off, right?


Getting There, and Back

I might have mentioned that Riccardo and I drove to Germany for our Christmas with the family. This turned out to be quite a trip: about 11 hours, each way. Ugh. My mom informed us that we simply HAD to photograph the sights along the way; unfortunately there was thick fog and rain most of the time. We did manage a couple pics of the Belgium and Holland landscapes, but much more interesting are the photos we took during our brief stop in Brussels. What a beautiful city! Enjoy!


A Very Happy Christmas Indeed

Despite all my travels, I have still somehow managed to get home to Canada every Christmas. Boyfriends, though, usually expect a sharing of the holiday time between the two families, so we decided to spend this Christmas with his family. To be honest, I was feeling rather anxious about Christmas at the Webers; not because we don't get along, but more because traditions differ and I was feeling a bit homesick.

It turned out that, when we arrived we had little time to wallow; it was a fun-filled week of game-playing, walk-taking, eating, visiting, cappucino-drinking, eating, and present-unwrapping! We had a chance to catch up with a number of friends, including Andre and Melanie who announced their own wedding date as we discussed the plans we are all making. Carla, Riccardo's mom, went out of her way to spoil us, and wouldn't even let us help with dishes! We even had a little snow on Christmas even and Boxing day! Such merriness will definitely be remembered (and help to put homesickness easily to rest) the next time we Christmas in Germany!

Of course, thanks again to the Webers for all the gifts, to Carla for spoiling us rotten, and to Sylvie for her fabulous cookies. It was magical! xxx


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