crystal's capers

one girl's international adventures

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

What a Relief!

In follow-up to my whinging about my MA module, I can confirm that the worry is over: I have passed! This is a huge relief since my Qualified Teacher Status and everything hinged upon this pass. I spent 2 weeks re-vamping my paper according to a totally different criteria and received a very predictable 'C'. Yeah, I am disappointed about the mark, but realistically, they were hardly going to raise a once-failed paper by 3 letter grades.

And because I'm such a glutton for punishment, I've already enquired about enrolling for the next MA module - with this I will gain my Post-Graduate Certificate in Education, which (hopefully) will make my qualification that much more transferrable to Canada! Fingers crossed.

Otherwise, not much to report. My holidays are winding down. Out of 6 weeks, I've had about 5 days of relaxation, including our Cornwall trip, but I'm not really the sit-around-and-do-nothing type.

Riccardo's parents visited last weekend. It's been at least 4 months since I've seen them, so it was great to catch-up. We took them to the fabulous Warwick Castle - got to see the joust and the Trebuchet fire a flaming boulder! We also went to our new favourite Tapas restaurant. Yummy! We were all hoping to follow-up this visit with a German-version in mid-Sept., since Riccardo has to go to Frankfurt for work. Unfortunately flights are about 100 GBP, and it doesn't seem reasonable to spend that much on my flight when not only have we just seen them, but it would only allow me about 24 hours with the family. No dice.

Riccardo may also get to return to Brazil this Sept. So jealous!

Did I mention that Kimberly and Corey have officially booked their tickets to come visit us in October? Very excited! My family, however, have not been quite so organised, and are now considering alternate time frames for their own visit. Hopefully it doesn't fall through entirely.

Finally, a shout-out to Parker and Scott who get married in Missoula, Montana this Saturday. Wish we could be there, guys! Have an excellent time, soak up the memories and share them for the rest of your lives together! We love you!


    • At 8:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

      Congratulations Crystal!!!!! I still have 2 years...haha. Glad you had a good summer and have gotten some rest. I miss you terribly!
      Love, Tressa

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Camera Woes

You may have noticed that my recently posted pics are shite. Grainy, murky, colourless. That was the best of them. Check this one out:

Yep, my camera is officially dying. It's been on its last legs for months. I guess it's time to retire the old thing. I should be grateful, I suppose: it's nearly 6 years old (which these days, is ANCIENT for technical gadgets) and has been with me throughout my travels. I do not exaggerate when I estimate that this camera has helped me capture over 100,000 moments. Probably a lot more than that.

Well, Christmas is coming...
(Ahem, 10mp+, 2.5inch+ LCD, 4x+ optical zoom, preferably with a snug little case - oh, and I'd rather not have a Canon - mine always had a delay between click and shot, annoying for on-the-move pics). hehehe!

Can I just whinge for a minute about Blogger? It's so glitchy and annoying. They should really try to learn something from glitch-free and fabulous web gadgets (that are free), such as - they're amazing.


Webers' First Anniversary

For our first anniversary, Riccardo and I travelled down south to the county of Cornwall. Cornwall is highly reveared for its country setting and beautiful beaches, and attracts the who's-who of Brits. We stayed at a beautiful B&B in Veryan Green, about 5 minutes drive to the ocean.

We visited the Eden Project, a collection of biomes and gardens contructed along 'green' guidelines. We also visited the St. Austell brewery for a tour and beer tasting - definitely got some 'souveniers' from there!

On our actual anniversary, Sunday 16th, we had a traditional Sunday luncheon at the Nare Hotel, on the coast. We were served 5 courses, including some lovely seafood, while we enjoyed the picturesque view.

Admittedly, we had to eavesdrop on the table next to us: an elderly couple (of about 180 years!) and their grandson and his girlfriend. The grandson couldn't stop talking about Oxford life, as he apparently attends the prestigious uni, and at one point informed his grandparents, 'I've decided I should like to meet William.' Obviously The William. We could barely contain our laughter when the grandparents informed their grandson that he'd best not bother because William has changed so much, these days he can't even remember his roots.


On our final day, we visited St. Mawes Castle, which was more of a coastal stronghold, really. I love those audio tours!

As our way home took us through Bristol, and I knew a part of this city is known as, 'Hambrook', I insis
ted we stop there for lunch. We found the pub I had located online - the only attraction in this little hamlet, but unfortunately missed out on lunch because they stopped serving food at 2:00.

Still, it was nice to stop in.

As a consolation prize, Riccardo offered to take me over the bridge from Bristol into Wales. It was my first time in Wales, and it was shortlived. We decided to find a country pub on our way toward home, but didn't realise how close we were to the boarded. We payed 5.40 GBP bridge toll, and ended up in Wales for about 7 minutes! I had a good laugh about this. Well, been there, done that!

It was a lovely vacation, overall: very restful. We definitely spoiled ourselv
es. Next time though, I think we'll pay the equivalent amount of money for a week-long all inclusive abroad somewhere (Tunisia, Turkey, Greece?)... England is just TOO expensive!


A Visit from Shortbus

At the end of July my Canadian gal, Jessica, came to visit us! We started our trip with a girly-trip to London where we saw, 'Dirty Dancing' in the West End - fab!

After our whirl-wind tour of London we headed back to the Midlands and visite
d Oxford...

And Stratford...
We did a quick walking-tour of Birmingham before I put Jess on the coach to meet her now FIANCE in Glasgow. HUGE thanks for coming, Shortie. And congratulations again on your engagement!


Wine & Cheese

Long overdue, here are a couple shots from our Wine & Cheese party, hosted in mid-July.

I thought everyone would bring one cheese each or per couple. They did not. Most people brought 4-5 cheeses each. We had a LOT of leftover cheese. Good thing it's my favourite food!

These pretty ladies are colleagues from my work: Kate (Engl), Liz (R.E.) and Lindsay (Engl).


Thursday, August 06, 2009

Ups and Downs

Well, I handed in my Masters paper last night. This is it: last chance to pass. Everyone, cross your fingers - and toes, too - just for safety. Thanks!

I also spent yesterday afternoon adding about 50% more lessons to one of the schemes of work I need to finish. It's good, I think. Lots of VAK and differentiation. So I can nearly check that box. Then on to the last scheme I have to finish, which will require only 3-4 additional lessons and some minor touch-ups. Finally, by the end of tomorrow, I have to finish planning my Autumn term of teaching for my Language college-level course. I teach the same course twice per week, so it's only planning enough for 2 hours per week. Plus, I've already planned 3 weeks worth... so the remainder shouldn't take more than the day, tomorrow, and then I'm on schedule to put my work away and not touch it for the rest of the summer holidays. Here's hoping!

Right, so predictably, just as I go and announce all my brilliant up-coming plans, everything goes into chaos once more. As it happens, our friends Kim and Corey were planning to visit us here in England during my October half-term break long before my family started making their plans. Though I tried to discourage my family from booking over our friends, it came down to a 'whoever confirms their itineraries first' sort of deal. My family were hours (days?) away from confirming this week... then I spoke to Kim. She told me that they are still thinking of coming, and so I tweaked plans with my family a little. As it is, by agreeing to meet them in Rome Riccardo and I were already going back on a decision to not travel any more this year (need to save up for a BIG move, after all), and originally, the only reason we were going to go was because Rebecca didn't really want to go to Rome (again), but Mom did. So we were going to meet Mom there so Rebecca didn't have to. Then my brother-in-law was able to get time off to come to Europe, and so he and Rebecca jumped onto the Rome trip because he's never been. So there were to be five of us going (plus baby), which would be fun, but for us the trip was no longer necessary. Plus, without us needing to go to Rome during my short half-term break, it'd leave more time to visit with my family (and our friends) here in England, because the whole Italy thing could be done and dusted before my holidays started...

Nothing is ever quite that easy.

As I said, Rebecca's been to Rome, and her motive for this Europe trip is to visit us. Mom, on the other hand, hasn't been to Europe before and seems to think this will be her 'on-and-only' chance, so she's been trying to cram as much sight-seeing in as possible - forgetting that Rebecca, and Riccardo and I for that matter, are more interested in visiting each other. So now it's looking like, due to differences in travel preferences, Rebecca and Mike are pulling out of the trip, too. Poor Mom. Gawd.

So now it's all up in the air. Whereas last week Riccardo and I were ready to book our Rome trip at the word, 'Go', we've now decided to postpone it until the new year. Whereas last week my family were minutes away from confirming their itineraries, now they may not come at all. Such disappointment.

And what's really annoying? Riccardo and I have lived here for 2.5 years, and will likely live here at least another year, but EVERYONE needs to come visit on the SAME bloody halfterm break!

Okay, that's me done venting. I still encourage visitors. It'd be a shame for everyone to give up on the highly coveted October visit, because it's looking now like we might be sitting here (both on holidays) for nothing. C'est la vie! Well, mine anyway.


Tuesday, August 04, 2009


This is (almost) a sigh of relief. Besides a whirl-wind visit from Jess, I've officially spent the first two weeks of my holidays working. And I'm beginning to feel the benefit. My goal is to get all my work done by this Friday, so that I can laze about for the last 4 weeks. And by 'laze about' I mean: do the long-overdue spring clean of the house, paint the many fences in our garden, sort through millions of photos and choose ones to print (finally), complete a gazillion other little errands and jobs... you know, laze about.

But, I did allow myself a small reward for finishing all my so-called 'necessary' work: private reading! Yay!! I have had to discipline myself with not delving into any distracting private reads (besides the Twilight series - love it!) over the past year because I tend to start a book and let it engross all my time... regardless of what else is going on. Happily, with freedom approaching, I've just ordered 4 news books on Amazon: 'The Time Traveller's Wife,' 'The Kite Runner' (read 'A Thousand Splendid Suns' by the same author and loved it; cried my eyes out the whole way through!), 'The Book Thief' and 'My Sister's Keeper'. Yeah, I like those girly wah-wah books. I also got the DVD of 'Life is Beautiful' because I love it and it was only 3 quid. Good times. Anyway, I'll let you know if there are any that I especially recommend.

Sooooo... that damn old MA paper. Still plugging away. I have SO much less confidence in this re-written version than I did in the last one. At least the last one made sense. Not good. Well, still some drafting and re-drafting to do, so hopefully it improves, cause right now it's a load of crap.

Some other interesting news: I'll really have time to enjoy my summer reads because in two weekends, Riccardo and I are going on our first-anniversary trip to Cornwall. Should be lovely! We found a beautiful B&B to stay in (funnily enough, our room looks similar to the African bomas we stayed in while on honeymoon!) and will visit the Eden Project, the coast and Exeter Castle. So excited!

The weekend after our anniversary, the in-laws are coming for a visit from Germany!! It's been a while since I've seen them, Italy at Easter, was it? But we're so excited to host them and plan to take them to Warwick Castle and maybe BBQ (if it ever stops raining). Very cool.

BTW, I'm really annoyed at all you people from Canada whinging about the heat... honestly, wanna trade for 3.5 solid weeks of rain? Gotta love the British summer. Where's my parka again?

Also, we're going to ROME!! Well, that's not confirmed just yet because we're waiting on MY FAMILY to confirm their travel plans because THEY'RE MEETING US THERE!! Yes, my family (Mom, Rebecca, Mike and little Kyra) is finally coming to visit... after just 2.5 years! How excited am I? So the plan is for them to tour around Italy for a few days, meet Riccardo and I in Rome for 3 days (we also want to visit Pompeii) and then fly back to England to see London and our home here in Brum. This looks to take place in October. We're still not entirely convinced it's going to happen though... still no actual paperwork, but our fingers are crossed.

Hmmm... any thing else to report? Well, only that Riccardo's 3.5-year-old laptop has kicked the bucket. We looked into getting him a new one, but that's being put off since for his gaming he needs one with a good graphics card, which means the damn thing will likely cost 600 quid ($1200) and we just don't have that kind of money. So in the meantime, Riccardo has appropriated my laptop, which thankfully for him and annoyingly for me, does support his game. The other reason to be thankful is that we have a techy friend who was able to save all the millions of pictures, music and documents on his hard drive for just 20 quid (would have cost around 100 GBP to have that done professionally). Phew!

Well that's it for now. More updates soon! xx


    • At 12:05 AM, Anonymous Ashley said…

      Ooh I love summer reading! Kite Runner is amazing, I also cried through most of it. And I just started the Time Travellers Wife.

    • At 1:50 AM, Blogger Jody (White) and Juan Leon said…

      Pompeii is good, but Herculaneum is smaller, less crowded and much better preserved. If you only have 1 day, I recommend Herculaneum over Pompeii.

      If you do go to Pompeii wear sneakers and be prepared to fall on your ass at least once. The streets are all original masonry via 79 AD, and over the 6 weeks I was in Pompeii I stumbled and fell at least once a day.

      Also, since you are on the Almalfi coast, I also recommend going to Sorrento. This charming little sea-side city is famous for its production of Limoncello and popular with German tourists.

      Lots of love,

    • At 8:22 AM, Blogger Crystal said…

      hahaha! Jody and Limoncello. Such good memories.

      Thanks for the travel tips! Think we'll have to use them in the new year, though. :(

      Ash, we can have our only little book club where we compare notes on our reads! Very exciting (and housewifey)! xx

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