crystal's capers

one girl's international adventures

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Warwick Castle

Yesterday we finally got to go to Warwick Castle!! We lived about 5 minutes away from this world famous attraction for six months, and only now have we visited it. To be fair, it is really expensive: about $35/40 per person, at regular price. But so worth it.

As the Castle is now owned by the same company that owns Madam Toussaud's, it's outfitted with many amazingly lifelike wax people. So cool! And the 'Ghosts Alive' show in the Haunted Tower definitely rivalled the Haunted House at Universal Studios.

After our day-trip, complete with yummy picnic, Helen (a friend from my work), Mari (our newly-arrived Japanese friend, Riki and I headed back to ours for dinner: RACLETTE!! Neither Helen nor Mari had experienced raclette before, so it was quite a treat. We were happy that the girls decided to stay for a game of Balderdash, some Guitar Hero and of course, karaoke!

Thanks everyone, for the lovely Saturday!! Can't wait for next weekend! :)


Sunday, June 22, 2008

For Shawna

Yep, another questionnaire. I like these things, but usually I just delete them. This one is easy, what with it's X's = yes.

x Gone on a blind date?
x Skipped school?
xWatched someone die? - does my dog count?
x Been to Canada?
x Been to Mexico?
Been to Florida?
x Been on a plane?
x Been lost? hahaha - oh, Japan!
x Been on the opposite side of the country?
x Swam in the ocean?
x Cried yourself to sleep?
Played cops and robbers

x Recently colored with crayons?
x Sang Karaoke? - weekly!
x Paid for a meal with coins only?
x Done something you told yourself you wouldn't?
x Made prank phone call?
x Laughed until some kind of beverage came out of your nose?
x Caught a snowflake on your tongue?
x Danced in the rain?
x Written a letter to Santa Claus?
x Been kissed under the mistle toe?
x Watched the sunrise with someone you care about?
x Blown bubbles?
x Gone ice-skating?

x Been skinny dipping outdoors?
x Gone to the movies by yourself?

1. Have a nickname? Cec, Cecil Dominguez, Hammy, Babes
2. Mother's name? Huguette
3. Favourite alcoholic drink? wine
4.Tattoo? No, but I almost got one in Okinawa
5. Bodypiercings? 4 on ears, including rook (used to have tongue pierced)
6.Birthplace? Clearwater, BC
7. Favourite vacation spot? Thailand
8. Ever been to Africa ? Ask me in January!!!
9. Ever eaten cookies for dinner? Nope, not a huge fan of cookies.
10. Ever been on TV? Will be 'starring' in THREE episodes of Deal or No Deal in Nov.
11. Ever steal any traffic signs? No
12. Ever been in a car accident? Two or three, unfortunately. At least one wasn't my fault.
13. Drive a 2-door or 4-door vehicle? I love my 4-door!
14. Favourite salad dressing? 3 Cheese Ranch. Wanna send me a pressie? ;)
15. Favourite pie? Does cheesecake count as pie. It's more like pie than cake. I don't like pie.
16. Favourite number? 16
17. Favourite movie? Pretty Woman.

18.Favourite holiday? Hallowe'en.
19. Favourite dessert? Confetti angelfood cake with marshmallow icing.
20. Favourite food? CHEESE

21. Favourite day of the week? Saturday
22. Favourite brand of body wash? None.
23. Favourite toothpaste? Colgate Total with Whitening.
24. Favourite smell? My fiance.
25. What do you do to relax? Relax? What's that? (take a bath, read, sleep).
26. How do you see yourself in 10 Years? Married with children.
27. Farthest place you will send this message? Into the blogosphere.


Welcome Mari-chan!

Well, it finally, suddenly happened. The months of planning and organising, paperwork and red tape came together finally last week and our Japanese friend, Mari, got her UK visa. Suddenly she was in a scramble, as her flight to England was booked to depart just days after her visa came through. And now she's here!

Mari, who we met through Riccardo's internship at the Tochigi, Japan branch of his company, has also taken a transfer to Redditch, England. Quite an exciting leap for a young, sweet Japanese lady! ...or for anyone, for that matter! But she does have us, just 20 minutes away.

On Thursday we surprised her at the airport; Riccardo arranged to have her driving service cancelled, so that we could be there instead.

And of course we were more than ready to take her out for a day of touristy-fun! We wanted to go to Warwick Castle, where I still haven't been, but with the pouring rain, we decided an indoor activity might be better. We ended up going to Cadbury World. Yes, it's what you think it is: a chocolate theme park! What could better than that? Much of Cadbury World is designed for children, but seeing how the chocolate is made and packaged, and the role the company played in building the town of Bournville was cool. Not to mention all the chocolate! Yummy!

Afterward Mari came back to our house for dinner. We played games, cooked together and had a great time. Of course, Riccardo did have to initiate her into the world of Guitar Hero. haha!

With Mari's arrival, social engagements are popping up all over the calendar! Should be a busy spring. It's about time!


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Andre & Melanie's Wedding

This past weekend I met Riccardo in Germany (he was returning from Italy, where he'd been working for the past week) for our friends' Andre and Melanie's wedding.

Andre and Melanie decided to hold their ceremony in the German version of City Hall; in fact, it was much nicer than expected: a quaint, historic building and a well-decorated, tasteful marriage room. The actual marriage was very short; there was no wedding party, as this is not the custom in Germany.
After the ceremony, the 40-ish guests drove across town to a riverside B&B where the reception was to be held. It was another beautiful historic building, beautifully decorated for festivities such as these and located directly along the Alte Rhein (an original part of the Rhein river, before it was diverted). We enjoyed some fabulous food and drink at the outdoor cocktail party, before heading to the rivershore for some photos.

The reception consisted of a fantastic German/Mediterranean dinner and some interesting games. One especially fun idea was where pieces of a Gustav Klimt painting were randomly assigned to guests, who throughout the evening, had to paint their swatch on a canvas, to comprise part of a recreation of the painting - quite a thoughtful gift for the couple!

Finally, a requisite dance of the Macarena, and we took our leave. Congratulations to the new Mr. & Mrs. Ahlheim, and thanks for having us!!

Sunday, we had a gorgeous birthday-brunch with Riccardo's family. It was a belated celebration of his 30th. It was great to spend some time with his family - it's been almost six months since the last visit! But we are still looking forward to a longer, more restful visit with them this summer (hopefully!).

It's a good thing we don't do this weekend-travel too often, because it's now Tuesday and I'm still recovering from exhaustion.


Please Help!

We are desperately seeking a driver for the wedding night; someone who could get our guests back to their accommodations safely, using our rental mini-van. This person must be 25 or older (for rental requirements) and would likely need to join us when picking up the vehicle (about a week before the wedding) to sign the paperwork. It's best if this person insures their own vehicle, to save us added insurance costs. It is recommended that this person holds a license that allows him/her to drive for profit (I can't remember what class this is), but at this point we would just be happy to line someone up for the job.

Obviously the service will be needed on the evening of August 16th, 2008, in Kamloops, and the job will be a busy and demanding one, probably starting around 9:00pm and ending after 2:00am. WE WILL PAY!! The driver can expect at least $150!!

Please inform anyone you think might be willing and interested and ask them to get in contact with us at



Saturday, June 07, 2008

Last Half-term

I have six weeks left at my current school. Happily, they should be fairly laid-back. Yesterday I said 'Sayanora' to my year 11s. Phew, I'm glad that's done. They are nice kids, but were a pain-in-the-arse to teach (as if 'teaching' actually took place). Now I'm down to 13 classes per week, from 21. Child's play. This will leave optimal time to complete some schemes of work I've been working on, and to begin to get my shit together for Uni in Sept. I'd like to finish that program by Easter, instead of July, which will mean some really good planning and prioritising.

This week we celebrated The Rikster's 30th birthday. He's been dreading it for a while. Overall, I think it was rather anticlimactic: the actual day passed with me-and-him having a nice dinner at home and some gift-giving. I got him a new guitar (so we can have face-offs) and game (II) for Guitar Hero and a couple other trinkets. He got a voucher for canoeing at Sun Peaks this summer from my parents. We will celebrate his birthday with his family next weekend, as we are flying to Germs for the weekend to attend Andre & Melanie's wedding, but not before Riccardo jets off to Torino, Italy on business for five days (he leaves Monday). Also, tonight (Sat.) we are have a raclette dinner party for our two friends. Yes, count them - there are two. That's all, despite numerous other invitations.

It doesn't feel like June at all. June is summer, isn't it? It's sure not here - it refuses to stop raining. Gawd.


Our Grand Californian Adventure

Two Wednesdays ago I decided to meet my dear sisters and brother-in-law in California. I bought the flight on Thursday and departed at 6:20am on Saturday. Talk about last-minute!

Our holiday started out immediately upon arrival; we picked up our rental car, and proceeded on a city-tour, courtesy Kelsey. She MapQuested all the places of interest: Venice Beach, the Santa Monica Pier, Rodeo Drive, Hollywood Blvd, Sunset Blvd, the Hollywood Hills... It was strange and fabulous to see all these places that are so glorified on TV and in films - actually, they are just beaches, streets and buildings. Well, the beach stretching through Santa Monica and beyond was quiet impressive and I imagine would be amazing on a hot summers day.

Next stop: The Grand Californian Disneyland Hotel. Rebecca won several nights there through her work, otherwise we would never have been able to afford the $600+/night price-tag. Staying right at Disneyland was FANTASTIC - we could go back and forth the hotel as we chose, especially considering the wettest ride, the River Rafting thingy, was directly next to the gates for the hotel. Awesome.

We spent two days at Disneyland and in California Adventure. My first time to the American version, and though it was slightly disappointing not to see everyone maxed out in Disney paraphernalia, I didn't miss the hordes of Japanese biblets in their stilettos. I have to say, I think my favorite ride might have been the abovementioned Rafting. Especially because it was quite balmy out. But then, you don't go to Disneyland for the fear-factor rides, do you? We went because we wanted to be children; and that we did. We even booked in for two character-meals: one a Minnie Mouse Breakfast and another a Princess Dinner. We got to have photos with all our favourite characters, and the food was really good. Definitely recommend it, for any age.

Did I mention I haven't really watched TV in three years? So I'm not that familiar with the game show Deal or No Deal, but that did not mean I couldn't play along. We pre-booked tickets to a taping of the syndicated day-time version of the show and showed up promptly at 2:00. Upon arrival we were told that they were running behind from the earlier taping, and that we should return in about an hour and a half. We went for lunch and came back only to stand in line for another hour and a half. They didn't get us loaded into the audience sections until after 5:00. Some more waiting, and finally Howie Mandell came out and we got started, but not before a producer came up to us all and informed that we were seated in the most-filmed seats in the studio: directly behind the contestant. We were told to sit straight, play along, look pretty and not pick our noses; this producer would watch us on-screen and let us know between tapings if we weren't fitting the bill. No pressure. Anyhow, we got into the cheesiness of it, and I'm pretty sure we ended up being the best audience Deal or No Deal ever had. Tune in yourself: I'm not sure exactly when we're airing, but it'll be sometime in late October/early November - you can search it online: episodes 26 - 28. Yeah, I'm famous.

Day five in CA: Six Flags. My sisters have, apparently, been dreaming of visiting Six Flags since adolescence - being roller-coaster enthusiasts; I had heard of it, but never had the itch. Well, if you're into roller-coasters, it's the place to be, with something like 17 major ones. The have done the most insane things with roller-coasters I've ever seen! Nothing will ever compare. I fancy myself somewhat fearless, but after careening at speeds of 85 miles/hour, upside-down and backwards, chair-spinning me around outside the course itself, blasting past fireballs, I nearly wet myself. Literal hyperventilation. Yeah, so not getting on that thing again.

By this point we transferred to a Holiday Inn about 5 minutes away from Universal Studios, so we returned there and were relatively shocked to find the in-hotel restaurant to be fabulous. Go Tula's. Early to bed, early to rise: on our final day in CA day we were off to Universal. This Universal didn't seem to have the same WOW-factor as Universal Studios Osaka, but maybe it was just first-time-charm. The best part though, that Osaka didn't have, was the Studio Tour. They take you through the actual working studio. So cool. The best part for me was definitely Wisteria Lane, from Desperate Housewives - looks exactly like on TV (well, in my case, on rental DVD)! I heard that a lot of what we saw burned down the next day. Kind of sad, considering many of those have been there for decades; but good timing for us.

And that wrapped up our California trip. Somehow, one week just didn't seem long enough; we were running to cram in everything, and there was so much outside the amusement park realm that would have been worth seeing. Ah, next time. Huge thanks to Rebecca (and Mike) for making the trip possible and another belated Happy Birthday to Kelsey, who turned 21 at Disneyland! Very exciting.


    • At 5:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

      lol you said biblet, the first time rob heard me say that he thought I was on crack, he'd never heard it befor.

      Looks and sounds like you had a blast


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