crystal's capers

one girl's international adventures

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Summer Bummer

Pretty disappointed that I'm not going to be able to get back to Canada to see my niece (and friends and family and decent weather and parents' new house on lake) this summer. Hopefully it won't pour rain here the whole time. And on the plus side, my lack of visit may mean a hop-of-the-pond by some select family members. ???

Swine flu has hit my school. Calming down insane year 9s has taken literally half a lesson. It's really not a big deal, illness-wise. Not even as bad as a normal flu - just easier to get. I was actually involved in the sending home of the school's first two confirmed cases. When they showed up at my lesson they looked like crap. Now members of my yr 9 class are dropping like flies. Apparently when there are 5 confirmed cases in one school, the school districts are advised by the Health Organisation to shut down. There are already 9 schools in Birmingham shut down. There is also talk that if we do close, since it's so close to summer, there's no point re-opening until the new school year. I guess teachers will still have to come in, though. No flu-like symptoms for me, yet. Wait and see, I suppose.

Somehow I've been suckered into chaperoning a bible retreat next week. So weird. I kinda had to expect this sort of thing to crop up, working at a Catholic school and all. My friend, Fran, is organisating the retreat from Tuesday to Friday next week and was desperate enough to beg. Apparently the big problem is that about half of the 30 yr 10 kids signed up to go are a collection of the worst yr 10 kids in the school. Bitchy girls, mainly. So basically, no one wanted to go because of this. Plus, it's long nights making sure boys and girls don't fraternize, without any extra pay. Why did I agree? Um, can't really think of the reason right now. Anyhow, I'm going on Tuesday morning, with the coach, and returning on Wednesday evening. So just one night. Apparently the staff at the retreat house do all the entertaining, so all we have to do is hang around. And, since it's in Stratford-upon-Avon, we can wander around during the day in the town or sit in the pub. Good times.

Okay, probably not good times. But I'll let you know next week.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Before & After

I've copied this slideshow from when we first moved in to give you a taste of the retro-awesome that our interior formerly styled. We've since toned things down a little. Though, there is some longing left in me for the velvet textured wallpaper of old. This is the new:

So what's the next project, you ask? Well, we've just painted and reorganised our storage room, including adding some fab new Ikea shelves, so that's sorted. Now it's on to either tiling the bathroom floor or getting rid of the ghastly canary yellow in the kitchen...


    • At 9:19 PM, Anonymous Ashley said…

      The house looks fab!! I love love love your couch, or sofa or whatever you call it over there!

    • At 6:23 AM, Blogger Jody (White) and Juan Leon said…

      The house is sure coming together. Your living room no longer looks like an upscale karaoke box (which is what I actually thought it was when you showed the pictures of you and your friends singing karaoke.).

      Any you are definitely right about the kitchen. I normally like butter cream yellow, but it it looks weird with the counter tops.

      Keep up all the amazing work. It's really starting to show.

    • At 3:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

      very ikea!

    • At 6:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

      nice pad!

    • At 7:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

      Sooooooooooooooo cooooooool!!!
      Hey guys it's very bright and warm...
      Kisses from Italy

    • At 5:30 AM, Blogger Christopher Barzak said…

      Your place looks great, Crystal!

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Sunday, June 21, 2009

Finished, or nearly

I can't believe it's been over a month since I blogged last. So negligent. Ah, that's life.

And what have we been up to this month? Well, finishing things off, really. Things are finally coming together.

We buckled down and got our renovation done. This is the one we started in mid-Feb. and so we figured it was about time. It took a full weekend to get all the little bits-and-bobs done. But it's looking great, and if I ever get around to it, I will post before-and-after pictures.

We've also been working on the garden. A while ago we had rented a chainsaw to mow down the way-overgrown bushes in the back. We spent the whole weekend then breaking up every twig by hand to fit into the green recycling bags we have to use. It took forever and we barely made a dent in the pile. Well, we then left the enormous pile of brush where the huge bush had previously lived and got sidetracked for several weeks. This weekend we've decided to deal with that mountain. It took us both about 5 hours yesterday, and 27 recycle bags later, the mountain is gone. The stupid bush we cut down had already sprouted about 50 4-ft-high shoots from the stump we left. I think this is going to mean war!

Today we are planning on tackling our way-overgrown hedges. Hedges are all the rage here in England. Their copiousness requires an electric trimmer, which is quite fun. Unfortunately it's the raking up and bagging of leaves that is less-than-exciting. We've bribed ourselves, however, and if we finish this job this afternoon, we get to venture into town for the Birmingham International Food Fair.

The Food Fair is in its first year here, and it sounds pretty cool. Loads of international vendors selling on-the-spot eats, or things to pack up and take away. Plus seating areas with live music and such. It's meant to be the sister event to the German Christmas Market which is a fabulous way to spend a frosty evening.

Hmmm... what else? We've spontaneously decided to have the fascias and guttering done on our house. This was something that was flagged up as semi-urgent on our homebuyers' survey when we bought the place. It looks great, but I'm still a little urked that the 3000 pounds spent means no summer holidays. :(

Which means, I'll be spending most of my 6-week holiday this summer wandering around the house... anyone interested in taking up this time as an opportunity to visit, the timing is good. **hint, hint**

I officially finished my teaching programme. Though I haven't received the mark back for my Master's module and I don't get my actually teaching certificate until September (probably), I have passed the course (it's pass/fail) and am overjoyed to be finished with the stupid thing! Woo-hoo! I would still like to work toward the MA, but my programme coordinators are so disorganised that they can't tell me what the next move is just yet. Ugh.

Riccardo is mostly well. Still a little bored at work, without many events to plan. He is off to Poland this week, and will extend his layover in Frankfurt a few days in order to visit with his family. A little bit jealous about that. It should be an interesting visit for him because it coincides with the visit of Rob, my parents-in-law's Tanzanian semi-foster boy (of 25 yrs). They've brought him to Germany for 5 weeks; should be an amazing trip for him! Riccardo will also get to see his sister, who is flying up from Italy for the weekend. Lucky guy!

My youngest sister, Kelsey, has moved to Vancouver. I'm so happy for her because she's absolutely adoring living there. She's working as a trainee Respiratory Therapist at Vancouver General Hospital. She's really liking her job, which is great too. I'm still appaulled, however, that the university makes them complete a year-long, unpaid practicum for this damn course. Not only that, but they still have to pay tuition! All the while, working 12-hour shifts for free! Only in Canada would they get away with that kind of bullshit. The Canadian government turns a blind eye to the rest of globe, who make moves to AVOID student debt. Assholes.

It looks like my parents might be moving. They've accepted an offer on their house, and have had an offer accepted on another house. The funny thing is, the people who want to buy their house are the same people to whom my parents have made an offer. It'll be a good ole house-swap, if it all goes through. Though, there are a few kinks to iron out still. Anyway, the potential new house is much smaller (finally! - haha!) and in Savona. At first I wasn't too keen on my parents moving to Savona, but as it turns out, the new house is directly on the lake, next to a mooring and boat launch and boarding a town park, complete with beach volleyball courts. Sounds like a fine vacation spot to me. It's a fixer-up, but anyone who knows my parents know that's their style anyway. So, fingers crossed.

Anyhow, that's all the gossip from this end. xx


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