crystal's capers

one girl's international adventures

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Holiday! Oooh! Holiday!

In three weeks today, Riccardo and I will be off on our HONEYMOON!

Who's excited? - MEEEE!

Our three weeks in Africa will really be a dream trip! The only problem is, what started out as an expensive dream trip, has turned into a ridiculously expensive dream trip.

It all started with those stupid Americans.

When we booked the trip, over a year ago, the prospect of paying in American dollars was a good one: the pound was roughly 2:1 to the dollar. Now, however, for reasons completely unknown and, one might say, unsubstantiated, the pound is more like 1.5:1. This means our honeymoon has now costed approximately $3000 more than budgeted!

Needless to say, since we had to pay for the balance of the honeymoon yesterday, December is going to be a tight month.


Quiz Night

Last night Riccardo and I attended a charity Quiz Night. A couple of my colleagues at work organised an evening of Q&A, which was held at the school. It was really cool to have about 70 colleagues and their partners and friends out on a Friday night. Of course Riccardo and I weren't the greatest contributors to our team... in fact, we shared approximately one of 60 correct answers between us. Well, as Riccardo said, at least I could look pretty and fetch the papers.


The Old Life

For me, once I began this karaoke thing, I could never quite shake it. Now, it seems, every group outing I organise simply must include a spot of singing. This was true of the most recent outing I put together: I had heard about a Thai restaurant/karaoke bar in Brum, and I was itching for a chance to check it out.

What started out as a post-hoc (?) hen night / stag night turned into a co-ed free-for-all. Riccardo invited some friends from work, I invited some friends from Uni, and we additionally invited some other friends. We ended up with 13, which was the perfect number for some good ole fashioned karaoke.

Upon arriving, we found that Pad Thai is attached to Shanghai, a chinese restaurant. In fact, they are co-owned, which explains the shared menu. In our PRIVATE karaoke room (which was really nice) we had to order the set menus; though the food was delicious, it wasn't cheap (about 18 pounds/$40 pp) and it was mostly chinese. Lots of selection though.

Our block reservation was from 8:20 - 11:20; afterward they asked us if we wanted to reserve a table in the bar downstairs: HOTDOG! So, a couple more hours of overpriced drinks and hilarious sing-songing and our night was wrapped up. The only (hilarious) complaint was that the songs were organised by how many words are in the titles. This made finding our favourites a little difficult because not only did we have to remember the titles off the top of our heads, but then to count out the number of words and proceed to search. How obscure!

Thanks to Dave, Kim, Helen, Jo, John, Michelle, Anna, Lee, Sofie, Matthew and Mi-young for coming out! We hope you all had as great a time as we did!


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Christmastime busy, in November

It's strange that we have social engagements all of a sudden. Strange, but good.

Last week was a little excess, however. Tuesday I had a department meeting at work, which was followed by a dinner with my fellow English peeps. Wednesday Riccardo and I went to see the new Bond film (which was so-so) and, of course, had to have a ramen-stop beforehand. Thursday we met up with Mari-chan (after not seeing her in ages) and her visiting friend Midori for dinner. Friday Donna and Mat came by for dinner and games. They stayed over because Saturday we had tickets to...

Nemo on Ice!!

It was fan-frickin'-tastic!!! Loved it. Riccardo somehow got us all cheap tickets through his work, and we were so glad we went; the costumes and special effects were amazing and the skating was beautiful. I really felt like a kid again. Too bad I forgot my camera. gar.

Afterward, because the show was at the NIA, in city centre, we stopped in at the Frankfurt Christmas Market. This German market only started in Birmingham 3-4 years ago, but is quickly growing and becoming widely popular. There were thousands of people there - you could barely move. Apparently it gets much busier still. Riccardo loved the opportunity to enjoy a festive bratwurst and a mug of gluewein (traditional hot mulled wine), and we even took home a marzipan stoellen. Yum.

By about 5:00 the light drizzle decided to full-on rain, so we all headed home for the evening. What an amazing day!

Now my attention is shifting to next weekend when more large-scale festivities will ensue. We've booked a private room for Thai food and karaoke and we've got people from our works, people from my Uni and friends joining us for a co-ed post-hoc hen-/stag-day. I've even got a childhood friend, Kim, coming down from London for the weekend. Riccardo and the blokes are thinking of doing some paint-balling and/or go-karting and us ladies might spend the arvo having tea and cakes in a rural country house. Should be simply smashing.


Monday, November 03, 2008

Goodbye Gramma

My gramma, on my dad's side, passed away yesterday. :(


Sunday, November 02, 2008


I've officially been accepted into the Masters Programme at the University of Warwick, here in England!! Finally.


To Germs and Back

I think I mentioned that Riccardo was working in Germany last week; in the North, close to Bavaria, I think. For a long time he was planning on making the trip to his parents' for the weekend, before coming home. Since it was half-term break from school, I decided to meet him (or beat him) there.

I went on Wednesday. My cheap little flight got me all the way to Frankfurt Hahn Airport... which is not in Frankfurt. Actually it's nowhere near Frankfurt. It's probably close to two hours drive from Frankfurt. Liars.

Anyway, Hans and Carla (aka Mamma & Pappa) picked me up and a leisurely 4.5 days ensued. They really know how to spoil me and make me feel like a princess. And what's even better, it was great to have some (semi-) stress-free time to spend with family.

I say 'semi' because I still had to scurry away to work from time to time. Nothing major. I do have some catching up to do before I head out to work tomorrow though; thank god I'm home early enough this afternoon.

Riccardo arrived really late Friday night. Saturday was spent playing games and chatting with the parents. We even got to see a slideshow (a REAL slideshow, like with actual slides!) of the pictures from their Canada trip (i.e. the 4.5 weeks they spent there after our wedding; most of which was spent ducking out of the rain).

Saturday night we went with Andre and Melanie to a historical restaurant for dinner. This place was decorated to the gills! The food was good, and the company better. After that we went bowling where several of us (including me!) won free shots of alcohol!

This morning we all got up at 5:30, England time, to get me to the bus, which would get me to the plane. Now I am home safe-and-sound. Everything back at the homestead seems fine, though our adjustable shower-head holder appears to have broken in the cold (since the heating was off, and its apparently been freezing here) because it will no longer hold the shower-head in an upright position. Fun.

Oh, and happy birthday for next Saturday to Andre - it's a special one! :D


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