crystal's capers

one girl's international adventures

Friday, February 27, 2009

The Space Between

It's funny that I was just teaching a poem called 'Limbo' at school, because that's how things seem to be in my life right now. Hilarious.

The Reno Update: ceiling paper and backing paper are up and ready to go. House is still a tip because we've had the boiler guys here for half the week. They seem to do a good job, but I'm not yet convinced about the product. I'm cold. I think the new, energy-efficient boiler simply saves energy by not working as hard. Our radiators aren't putting out as much heat, and it's cold in here. Well, not warm anyway. I can see why this would be cheaper for us, but I'm not sure that's what we wanted. Perhaps things will improve when we are re-insulated next week (they're going to re-insulate our attic and blow insulation through small holes in our exterior walls to fill up the space between the bricks). This weekend we're going to begin painting trim and doors, I think. Another superfun weekend, to be sure.

The Bigger Problem: I've mentioned before that our shower's broken. This is proving to be a bigger problem than anticipated. So far we've had to live without a shower for over three weeks. Not fun. The problem is that the new electric showers (which aren't expensive in themselves) are smaller than the one we have. And our bathroom is fully tiled, apart from the section behind the current shower. So when we replace the current shower, the missing tiles will show. And we don't have any matching replacements. Not good. Not sure what to do with that problem. We certainly don't want to re-tile the whole bathroom.

The Uni Thing: Still really annoyed with Uni, but at least that previously mentioned situation was sorted out. I received a response from the lady I sent the nasty email to that was a bit more forthcoming this time. I have to get my MA project in order by Easter. Ugh. I also have to go through the 400 observation records I have organised by standard and cross-reference the applicable standard to where it's mentioned in the write-up. That probably doesn't make any sense to someone who's not GTP-savvy, but what it means is about 10 hours of work: double-Ugh.

The Job Sitch: For those of you who don't know, I went for a permanent job at my current training school. I really thought I had an advantage, especially since many people within the English department, including the Head of English, assured me I had no reason to worry, that the whole point of taking on a GTP student was to train someone to carry on at the school. Well, there were about eight applicants and five of us got an interview. One other girl had experience at the school: she did her first (6-week) placement for her PGCE training there last term (she was off sick for over a week of that, for several different illnesses, btw). Anyway, I didn't get the job. They hired the PGCE girl and an older lady with more 'extra-curricular experience to offer'. Two people, but not me! Needless to say, I was a bit of a wreck Tuesday night. The worst part was that they didn't really have anything to tell me: they're supposed to give feedback for improvement to candidates that didn't get the job. My feedback was to do everything the same next time. Nice. Apparently I did everything right. My application was good, my observed lesson was excellent (I'm told) and barring a couple very slight suggestions for future interviews, the Deputy Head of the school actually said, 'You were great. Do everything the same next time and I guarantee you'll get the job'. Nice. Oh, but he did mention that I might be just a little too Canadian for the job: he thought that perhaps because I didn't grow up here, my understanding of the school system wasn't as good as some. Right, because someone can teach here for two years and totally miss learning how the system works.

My disappointment has turned to anger at this point; I was told that I was the runner-up candidate and that they were really hard-pressed to choose between me and another lady. Well, to be honest, that's not really a consolation because with all the time and effort I've put in at the school (going regularly above and beyond what I need to do) if it really was that close, I think I deserved it. It sounds childish, I know, but the more I think about it, the more angry I get.

I was dreading going back to work afterward. The interview was a whole-day thing, where we candidates were an obvious presence in the school, so pretty much all the staff knew I had applied for the position. Those who knew I didn't get it, predictably, made sad faces at me and explained how sorry they were for me over and over again. Those who didn't know asked awkward questions were I had to fight back tears while calmly explaining that two other candidates were chosen rather than me. I made it through the first two days though, so I think the worst is over.

What's Next: I've already applied for a English/Media job with the competition. My current school backs directly on to two other secondary schools (don't ask me why) - one of which is considered to be a top school in England. I'm not sure of the whole Media end of things, because though I have some teaching experience there, it's certainly not my specialisation, but I intend to put feelers out before attending the interview, if I'm even invited. I'm definitely not going through that whole thing again if I don't have a fighting chance! Begrudgingly, I'm back in the rat-race.

Wish me luck!


Thursday, February 19, 2009

I'm sure I'm going to regret it

I just pressed 'send' on a very nasty letter to my university.

Despite having been told during interview that I could, potentially, finish the programme early, they now have the nerve to tell me that if I take a job that starts even a half-term before the end of this school year, I'll have to extend my GTP training until NEXT Christmas.

Yeah, because I'm going to turn down a 60% pay increase (plus pay through the summer) and a permanent job for you assholes. Right.


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Reno

Riccardo's parents are here and we're renovating in a big way! As usual, we bit off more than we could chew, and as usual, one disaster lead to another. But we are making good progress.

What are we doing? Well, we've removed all the wallpaper and Styrofoam ceiling tiles - lemme tell ya, that was a b*tch! We took off the crown moldings, which we found to be made of plaster, rather than wood, so they took chunks of our wall off with them. Lots of re-plastering the wall needed to fix that one! The walls and ceiling are in such bad shape, we have to re-paper them, with ceiling paper (not too bad looking, actually) and backing paper on the walls, which we will later paint.
We've ordered new light fixtures (all matching!) and door handles too!
Next week, we're stopping the reno halfway through to have new insulation and a new boiler (central heating and hot water) system installed. It's desperately necessary. And it'll only cost us about $10,000. Ahhhh!
Amidst all this, some other household items have gone kaput: our electric shower is dead and needs replacing. Hopefully that will only cost a hundred or so pounds. We also need a new back door, as a leaky pipe caused it to mold and now it's falling apart. And it looks like we need a new bathroom suite (or a toilet at the very least) because our current toilet has a broken seal and drips condensation all over the floor. The old suite is dated anyway. Thankfully we can work around these problems for the next few weeks/months because it can't all get fixed now.
Ah, home-ownership. What a delight!
~ Be warned, Rebecca and Kimberly (both of whom are currently in the process of committing themselves to this nightmare)!


    • At 10:48 PM, Blogger Tressa said…

      Oh my god, that looks like it would be hellish! I am sure it will be beautiful when you guys are through though and it is great that you have some help! Can't wait to see the finished product. Miss you and love you!

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Bowler Time

Last weekend we met up with friends from Riccardo's work, including Donna, Mat, John and little Isabel, for some bowling. Good times!


New Bed

FINALLY, we've got a real bed in our master bedroom, which means a very comfortable spare bed in the second bedroom!

This bed would not have been my first choice, but it's decent and it was CHEAP. YAY!


Sunday, February 08, 2009

Tales of a Rubbish Bin

I was on the phone with my BFF the other day. She lives back in Canada with her soon-to-be hubbie. Can you believe that twice in our hour-long convo she had the nerve to tell me that I was adopting a British accent? Lies, I tell you. Lies.

In any case, I'll scratch the above 'Rubbish Bin' and determinedly refer to it as a GARBAGE CAN. As if it's of any importance.

Yet, Riccardo and I have spent the last year or more keeping our eyes peeled for the perfect one. We wanted stainless steel and were pretty picky about the measurements. See, we have this little cubby between where our preformed, wonky kitchen cupboards were willynilly thrown on and where the wall begins; Riccardo had talked about building a wine rack in there, but has never got around to it. Plus, we don't really have another space suitable for a GARBAGE CAN that wouldn't be kind of right in the middle of the kitchen. So yesterday, when we were shopping for paint for the RENOVATION, we found it! Just 24 quid and a perfect fit! Ah, marital bliss.

Right, the reno. I'm actually getting really excited. I'll have to go around here and take loads of 'before' pictures - though I've already posted pictures of the current living conditions back when we first moved in. Riccardo finally trusted me to choose the colours. He admitted to not knowing much about decor (after I bullied him into paint choices when we painted our apartment back in Germany - a huge fight that time!). I've decided on 'Almost Sage' with white trim and doors for the foyer, stairway and landing and 'Cookie Dough' (Mmmm) on the bottom with beige on the top and for the trim and chairrail in the living room and dining room. I chose brown because we already have a oak-and-neutral colour scheme with our furniture. I'm thinking some chocolate brown curtains and accents and perhaps a nice fluffy beige rug will finish it off nicely. I think we'll leave off painting the kitchen and the bedrooms for now; they're livable. We're already getting in over our heads with the renovation as is, I think.

According to the Sales Advisor at B&Q (another DIY store) we should avoid the cost and time of re-plastering our walls perfectly, and just put backing paper (thin, smooth wallpaper) on the walls and ceiling and then paint over that. Not sure about this. Apparently it's the way here.

We have a guy coming in on Wednesday evening to quote us on a new boiler (and fireplace?!). I'm rather nervous about that. I know that replacing the boiler is going to be a major expense, but cutting down our monthly gas payment from $200 to $60 would definitely make it worthwhile. We'll probably wait until spring for the install anyway, since boilers always go on sale when nobody really needs them.

We had a small leak out back. It was the overflow pipe from our hot water tank; it had developed a constant drip because a valve had broken inside the water tank. That cost us a nice $280 to fix. Plus now we'll have to have our (ancient) back door replaced because the leak sprayed the wood so much that it's started to mould. Nice.

Now, having just had the plumber in for that problem a week ago, our electric shower has gone. Stopped working altogether. No showers for us. Thankfully the hot water in the bath still works, so we can still bathe. Annoying though. And will probably be another ridiculous cost. Grrr.

I sometimes wonder if it isn't smarter just to put out the extra cash and buy new and forget about renos and resale profits and all that.

We've had a lovely weekend with our friends Donna and Mat. Last night we all met up with Riccardo's other work colleague, John, and his 3-year-old daughter, Isabelle for bowling. Isabelle was, predictably, the life of the party. SO cute! Then Donna and Mat came over to see honeymoon pictures and enjoy some drinks. Since we have a glorious new bed, they were quite comfortable sleeping over in our spare room, and we enjoyed a delicious breaky this morning before they raced off to Home Depot to buy our kitchen bistro set (they thought it would be fabulous in their kitchen, and I mentioned I'd seen it on sale when we were in buying reno supplies yesterday).

Did I mention that I enjoyed THREE snow days last week? Plus an INSET day (or Inservice, as we Canadians know them); this meant that I actually only taught 3 lessons last week. Crazy! Yet, I now have to scurry off and plan for next week - a busy one with the arrival of Riccardo's parents on Thursday!

Happy V-Day, if I don't blog at you all before then!


Thursday, February 05, 2009

Snow Days!

I've just discovered a reason to love living in England...


We've had a few snow falls over the last few days and the country has been in chaos. Who knew 5cm could wreak such havoc!?

So Riccardo and I are sat at home today, putting around in our leisure-wear, nestling by the fireplace and looking out our window at the world at a standstill, on a Thursday morning.


Picture is not mine.


    • At 10:03 PM, Blogger Tressa said…

      I had heard it snowed alot there! Haha, that is awesome. Wish we had snow days in Saskatchewan but then we wouldn't have to go to work or school 8 months out of the year;)

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