Thursday, November 23, 2006

Stop the Traffik

Everyone should take note of my banner at the bottom of the page. It's for Stop the Traffik, an international organisation dedicated to stamping out the problem of people trafficking. People don't seem to realise that this is a problem, but it is - people are still being taken from their homes, whether through force or through coercion, and being forced to work in other countries. The most common thing is for women to be sold into prostitution, but this isn't the whole story - men can be sold to work as illegal labour, for example, or children into organised begging.

Let me tell you a story. There was once a young Moldovan girl who dreamed of living in the West. It would be fantastic, there was enough work for everyone and the standard of living was something she could only imagine. With her boyfriend of six months, she planned and planned and finally the boyfriend managed to get visas for them to work in Holland. She was so excited - finally all her dreams were coming true, she was going to make a better life for herself. Her parents were happy too, although her mother was cautious enough to give her daughter a leaflet on people trafficking. She didn't expect it to happen, she explained, but it was better to be safe. Needless to say, the girl got angry, accused her mother of not trusting her, why couldn't she just accept that she was finally out of this life?

The girl and her boyfriend took the train to Amsterdam from Moldova. She was so excited, looking around her in amazement, planning what she was going to do. He seemed quiet, but she just thought he was nervous. After all, they had left everything they knew behind them.

When they arrived in Amsterdam they were met on the platform by a man who knew the boyfriend. The two wandered off a short distance to chat, while the girl was taking in the atmosphere. She was finally here! And they already had a friend to show them around, show them what to do etc. After a short while the other man came over to her, introducing himself and saying that he'd get her settled in to the flat he'd organised. She asked after her boyfriend - he's following later, she was told, he has a few things to do. That was fine, she thought, she could start getting this flat in order for them. She followed the man.

They arrived at the flat and he opened the door. It wasn't until he pushed her inside that she realised something was wrong. "You've just been sold to me," he hissed. "You're going to work as a prostitute, and any money you earn is mine."

She'd been sold by her "boyfriend".

Fortunately, she managed to escape after six months. Others aren't so lucky.

This is why I want EVERYONE to take just two minutes and go to and sign the declaration there. This problem NEEDS to stop - estimates tell us that in our modern and equal world there are more people in slavery than there were when it was legal.

I've never cared about something as much as I care about this. Please help.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

I dscovered the way to get me out of bed is to have the fire alarm go off at 8.30... I was dozing and I heard it go off in the next staircase, so I got up because I'd been told we were having drills this week, and then sure enough it started on this staircase too. Made me go to breakfast though! But then I wasn't hungry for lunch, so worked through it. I don't like having meals three hours apart, it's far too soon!

Also FF is still underlining everything I write. This is annoying me.

Did my French presentation (on Quebecois)today - people seemed vaguely interested, so that was good. Wasn't the best presentation ever, but that's ok. There's a French evening tonight up at St Aidan's college, so I think I'll head up there - otherwise I might have to face the subtle wrath of a snubbed lectrice :) (she reminded us in the lesson, so there really is no excuse, and I know a few people that are going anyway).

Now it's time to get on with the work, just picked up summative (ie it counts) essay questions so I need to start reading for that. It just never stops!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


I went to see fireworks last night, up at the county hall in Durham. So good! I was impressed. On the way back we went for a detour through the park (there were three of us, and one is a cage-fighter - well, Mixed Martial Arts, but it's the same thing really - who's going into the army, so we felt safe enough) and stopped at the viewpoint over Durham. Oh my gods, Durham is pretty. I feel so lucky to have come back from my year abroad to live in such a pretty place. I got some pics of the cathedral and castle all lit up, since I had a stone wall to lean on smile lack of tripod means that a 1second shutter speed comes out all blurry otherwise!

Clicking will make the photos bigger, just thought these were easier to see!

Spot the train!

My hips were too big for the slide, how depressing is that?!

Our sparklers had died and we all pulled faces like kids.

This was me writing my name with the moon - quite a talent, I thought!

"I am..."

I love these - they're just too good, especially if you know Canadians or have a bit of experience with them. The random joual (Canadian French, usually involving cursing - colisse, tabernac, ostie...) in the second one is actually not too exaggerated, which is quite scary.

Now that those are out of the way, suppose I'd better say something about me. I'm egocentric, you see, and that's why I assume most people read this blog to find out more about me. I'm in for a horrible surprise one day, I feel!

I'm much less stressed than I have been, although for no good reason. I was ill, but now I'm better and inclined to blame my panic on getting sick. I still need to get a job, but am less worried (as long as I get some hours in the wall in Warrington). I have a lot of work to do, and am as procrastinatory as ever. That may not be a word. I'm annoyed that someone threw something (I think a banana) at my window for "fun" and that it's still there.I think this sounds like an Alcoholics Anonymous confession. I'm going to actually do some work now (once I've caught up on emails and stuff, of course).

Saturday, November 04, 2006

I'm alive!

I'm up and about again, after being confined to bed for the past three days with a nasty fever. Ages since I've had one of those, wasn't really fun to find out what I'd been missing... whatever

Now I'm just coughing a lot, and complaining a lot too smile which I think is allowed, but you can tell me to shut up and get over it. Also my knees don't belong to me any more. It's an... interesting experience, shall we say!

So from tomorrow it's back to the work and the finding of the money, because it's all been on hold. Ah well.

Oooh and I got a box o' stuff from my boy, which was nice smile including skype headsets and things so we can actually talk. We seem to be bad at that at the moment - time difference is affecting us more than usual, and we're busy with other things. Effort will need to be made! It's not like I'll be doing anything this weekend except going to fireworks... yay Guy Fawkes' Night and burning things and setting off fireworks because of that idiot!

Then I got another box, which turned out to be a bottle of absinth he got sent here in case his got seized by customs in the US. I feel like a PO box. Well, he knows I won't drink it except under duress, so it's perfectly safe!

Apart from that, people are now singing college songs in the bar. Oh yes. Well, it's better than yesterday when the rugby and rowing "initiations" were underway - by 8.15pm they'd had a quarter of a bottle of gin and 6 pints each, and by the time I came down from my friend's room (not near the bar, therefore a place of sanctuary) at about 8.45pm the security guys and captains of societies were sluicing off the steps at the bottom of the staircase I live on... it reeked of puke and since I wasn't feeling great to begin with, made me feel really sketchy as well...

Ah the perils of living in college.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Halloween party

There was a Halloween party last night. I was going to go as a goth (heh) but then my friend had kitty ears and a collar, so I ended up going as a goth cat. It was quite awesome!

My hair isn't actually black, although it looks like it - it's a deep, velvety purple that doesn't come out well under yellowish lights : ) I was bored of the last one, it had faded muchly:

So I changed it, with many comments including "But your hair's not exciting any more!" to which my answer was "But... it's purple, how is that not exciting?!" People.

In other news, am feeling the pinch today. Got my bank statement the other day to discover that my student loan didn't cover my accommodation (uni provided accommodation), let alone my books that came to £90 for ONE MODULE... Drank coke last night (25p for half a pint), and I've been trawling the Job Shop for part time stuff. The thing is, I don't want a job - I want to concentrate on my degree because I'm close enough to failing at least the Russian part of it. I'm working hard and it's all just sliding out of reach.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Wednesday 25th October

Because I'm unimaginative and that's the best title I could come up with.

I ache from climbing again, which is nice. Spent a lot of time bouldering, which I don't usually enjoy as much as routing, but today I seemed to be getting on with it. Heh, it's like I want to go in for BUSA or something! <shifty glances>

Also, I found this news story about the US "exiling" someone to Canada - are they even allowed to do that? I mean, it's not their country so how do they get to exile him there while telling him he must report to his parole officer in the States?

(I understand that exile is usually out of the country, except when you're Russia, but really that's just ridiculous!)

That's all, I'm supposed to be writing things up before I go to bed, although I can't actually hold a pen very well - always the sign of a good climbing session - so it might just be bedtime. Huzzah, it's before midnight!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Monday 23 October

I've just been climbing and I ache :) it's a really satisfying feeling.

I was also out climbing on Saturday (after a night out, fortunately I wasn't too drunk!) which was amazing! Didn't do anything too hard, just getting the feel for being back on the rock. I want to get my SPA (Single Pitch Award) training done this year, so I need to get some practice at leading... I'm just not that strong at the moment and it's annoying me.

I got a phone call from my friend at home yesterday - he wants me to come back from uni because he doesn't have a climbing partner... It'll be good to see him when I go home at Christmas.

Also at Christmas I get to see Rob, which is exciting beyond belief! He hasn't been to the UK for Christmas yet, but since I spent last Christmas in Canada with his family it's his turn to come over :)

I've just spent a good minute or so being entranced by the emoticons and their googly-eyed-ness. That probably means it's time to get a hot chocolate and read some "Wolf Brother". I really like it, and now my friend lent me the second one so I can get a bit further in the story too :)

I'm sorry this doesn't make sense. Maybe next time.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


There are more, but Blogger is playing up. I'll try again tomorrow.

Candlelit procession

Last night was the candlelit procession from Prebends Bridge up to Durham Cathedral. It's a lot of fun, mostly because you get to have candles (I'm never actually going to grow out of the joy of holding fire) and it's also very pretty, a whole load of people walking around in the dark with candles.

Once you get into the cathedral, all the lights are turned off and so you see it just by candlelight - quite a change from the usual brightness! It's a very spiritual moment, and you can see why people have been coming to that site for over a thousand years (the cathedral is 1010 years old, and before that was a wooden Saxon church - I was listening to the spiel we were given!). Then they talk for a bit about the cathedral, religion and the university, and then lights come on and you can wander round the cathedral for a bit. I've been there just a few times before, so I wasn't too bothered about that until I realised that everyone was taking photos, which is usually forbidden, so I decided I'd join in. Here are the fruits of my illicit endeavours!

Saturday, October 14, 2006

It's Friday and I can breathe again!

The essays are done, dusted and handed in. This means I can start to live again! Feels like I've been in a bit of a black hole this week, it'll be nice to breathe a little bit. Obviously I still have work to do, term has started... but the languages dept here being what it is, so far it's been just a little chaotic! My favourite is that my friend isn't registered for Spanish, despite having done Spanish for the previous three years and having told them at pre-registration in June she wanted to do Spanish this year, and having told them again when we formally registered last week... when will they learn?

Tonight was a celebratory night of watching Disney DVDs (Hercules and Aladdin) while drinking wine and eating Ben&Jerry's. We fourth years know how to party!

Also a question - I'm trying to learn how to use Dreamweaver to make a website for the college art society, but the tutorial is just confusing me. Anybody got any hints/tips etc?

Friday, October 13, 2006

I love reading lists

I've just spent £90 on books. All compulsory ones, and none in the library... well done Durham!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


Helen just brought me cake to help maintain my sanity... I love this girl. It has a smiley face on it. That is my favourite part.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Jon Stewart's 9/11 speech

For those of you who don't know Jon Stewart, he's a satirist who hosts a programme called "The Daily Show" (broadcast in the US, Canada and now on More4 in the UK). He's also my hero, and seeing this speech is incredibly emotional as it shows a side to him that isn't shown on the programme, the side that loves his country despite all his ridiculing of the administration. Seeing Jon Stewart cry is like kicking a puppy. (I'm apparently having an emotional day).

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Back in Durham

It's all a little strange. I'm living right opposite the bar, which is kind of noisy at the moment what with all the freshers being excitable 18 year olds... I do feel kind of like a granny, being a fourth year and therefore having to work while they play.

Lectures start on Monday. I can't believe that with a centralised timetabling system I didn't get any clashes... that's too good to be true so I'm fully expecting it all to go wrong :) I have so much faith in our department!

I should keep this blog updated more now I have internet, I really didn't like doing it on dialup because it's so slow and didn't really want to work for me.

Not much to say about uni yet, it's good to see people though. I hadn't seen Sophie and Helen for two years, so it's quite interesting to catch up with them. And the most exciting news of the day is that I have finally written one of my essays, woot! Just another 2000 words in Russian to go ... it's my own fault and I expect no sympathy (although if you want to give me some anyway I won't say no :) ).

Oh, and another, rather random thing is that I now have a problem with Thunderbird. Here are the details...

The history:
I had Gmail working on Thunderbird a couple of years ago, but got rid of Thunderbird (and therefore the Gmail POP access) for a variety of reasons. Now I'm using Thunderbird again (version and have set it up to download Gmail messages using POP. I've followed the
instructions on the help centre site .

The problem:
I can't download or send email, as the server times out. The other account I use through TBird (a uni account) works fine.

I have:
  • changed my servers to googlemail rather than gmail
  • checked all the settings (including making sure that gmail is using its own servers rather than my university's)
  • since I'm on a network, changed the "direct access to internet" to the automatic proxy configuration URL given by the university
  • checked that TBird is authorised by ZoneAlarm to access the web and act as a server
  • unlocked my account using the CAPTCHA form
  • made sure that the settings in gmail are correct (I hadn't changed them from when I had TBird two years ago
Any ideas? I'm stuck, and the forums weren't helping this time .

That's all for now, I'll write more as interesting things happen.

Friday, September 01, 2006

I made it!

I got home all safe and stuff, which is good. Although there was a woman next to me who ordered a brandy right at the start of the flight, which she then didn't drink till the end, so I had 7 hours smelling brandy... Not so good when you're not feeling too well to begin with! whatever.

Monday was a bank holiday, so Mum was off work, which meant she came and met me (for which I'm very grateful) with all my bags. Then she kept me awake all afternoon visiting, so that I slept very well on Monday night!

Haven't actually done much since I've been home. I've caught up with the family, obviously, and today I went to Trafford with a Rachel to get another Rach a birthday present... but that's it. Need to send off my student loan form so they'll give me money. Important.

Currently I'm sitting in my Mum's office while she's faffing around sorting out databases etc (she brought the wrong one home to work on) so I thought I'd take advantage of it to use internet that isn't dialup (I'm sure Mum appreciates it too, saves on her phone bill!) Have just replied to an email from college asking me how long I want my room for - my answer was "As long as possible so you don't keep making me shift all my stuff!". Well, more or less. It was slightly politer, but that's the basic sentiment.

Monday, August 28, 2006


I'm leaving in a couple of hours :( it's all very sad.

Coffee is thicker than water...

(='.'=) This is Bunny. Copy and paste Bunny into your
(")_(") signature to help him gain world domination.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

End of summer?

Already? I say that's not fair, not had the time to do half of the things I was going to.

But we are going to see the Foo Fighters do an acoustic gig tonight, so that's good :)

Still jealous of my sister though, who will be at Leeds festival now (although half the lineup was at Lollapalooza - which doesn't get any easier to type with repetition - so I'm sure I'll survive).

I'm actually quite excited to be coming home. Much as I love being here with Rob (which is very much) 51 weeks away is a long time and there's been changes at home that I'm sure will feel very strange. My great-grandad won't be around any more, and I'll miss the conversation of "You'll set something on fire with that hair, you will!" to which my response was "Well, at least you can see it. It's a public service for you, this hair is!"

Also there will be a new dog at my nan's house to get to know. I've missed dogs this year. The cat that my Russian hosts had just wasn't the same.

And of course I have all my friends to see and catch up with. People have graduated, people have also travelled this year, people have got jobs and are out in the real world... lots has changed and I'm out of date! Although not as much as I would have been had Facebook not taken over everyone's life... it's good for some things!

Anyway, got to get on with stuff - I'm doing the washing so I can pack (I hate packing dirty stuff, it just makes everything that wasn't dirty need a wash). And of course, go to see the Foos!

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Oh. My. God.

I'm so excited about this you cannot understand.


Except now I need to find someone with Sky One... volunteers?

Coffee is thicker than water...

(='.'=) This is Bunny. Copy and paste Bunny into your
(")_(") signature to help him gain world domination.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

I haven't forgotten about this blog thing, but the last couple of weeks have been insanely busy. And I only have 11 days left here, which is complete bull.

I intend to write up my own version of events, but meanwhile, here's Rob's memories of Lollapalooza weekend...



So Lolla this past weekend eh? Wow...

This will be just a mini update... I'll try to do more tonight before I collapse but.... well I've promised similar things before :)

Stupid work kept me from getting there until 5:30 but I did make it in time for Iron & Wine which was good.
The rest of the evening was basically just wandering & sitting & drinking Bud ( ... )
We caught some of The Raconteurs, Violent Femmes, VHS or BETA and Death Cab for Cutie
Oh yeah we also went to the Blackalicious after show at the House of Blues.... Omega Watts and 1773 were lots of fun, and Lyrics Born was fricking amazing, but unfortunately Blackalicious was pretty much a disappointment.

Another start to the day a bit later than we wanted but by 2:30 we were back in the think of things (after stopping for some sushi for lunch/breakfast.... MMMMMmmmm)
Saturday was by far the highlight day starting with Coheed and Cambria (pretty fun), then Wolfmother (not bad.. but not great), we caught a couple of songs from Calexico before Sonic Youth, then the big surprise of the weekend, The Dresden Dolls, wow! are they ever a lot of fun!!!! I want a "coin operated boy" too! Flaming Lips were damn good too, but we stayed back so we had a good spot for Thievery Corporation. Who rocked. Then rounded out the day with some mad dancing to Manu Chao. We met up with some friends down from Canada for the festival and offered them a place to crash (they slept in their van on friday night)... However I was the only one who actually slept...

everyone else stayed up drinking until about 6:30 (after waking me up and dragging me out to watch the sunrise.. bastards...) So I was of course the only one ready to go at a decent time. Sara was feeling pretty off tho... so while the rest of the posse headed out at about 2, we stuck around home & she slept while I watched TV (X games & Cartoons! woot!) and read computer magazines... we finally managed to haul ourselves up and out in time to catch a cab down to the park just in time for the final few chords of Broken Social Scene before the big guns came out... apparently something like 70,000 people where there for the Red Hot Chilli Peppers... Wow that was a hell of a show. Then home again for a last ditch attempt to get rested for this morning...

and despite my best efforts (aka decent amount of sleep both nights) I still feel rough this morning.... this "working stiff/cubicle monkey" life while hanging out with people on vacation really sucks...

So there you have it :)

All the photos are here. If you click on the "More info" link at the side of each photo (underneath where it tells you the number of the photo and the folder name) it will tell you the file name, which has the name of the band etc in it. I'm trying to work out how to get it to show the file name as a caption, but I've only just got this picasaweb thing so I'm still learning...

Thursday, August 03, 2006

So now I have the site meter in two places. I'll sort it out later (the one at the bottom of the page has to go, silly place to put it!)

[EDIT: did it, fiddled around with html and everything, I feel so technical :) ]

It's so hot...

...even the birds are panting.

I didn't know they did that, but they definitely do. Rob and I tend to sit in one of the Art Institute's gardens for lunch, along with the sparrows (who are now so used to us that they're getting cheeky, especially the one with no tail who will come very very close so she can eat the bread in peace because none of the others are brave enough). There are a whole gang of this year's youngsters, along with their long-suffering dad who is still pestered to feed them, so at first we thought they just had their mouths open to make dad feed them, but no - on closer inspection their little chests were heaving in the same way that dogs' chests do when they're panting. Poor little things (also very cute, in a funny sort of way. I've become quite attached to them).

Just to let you know how hot, it was 94F at 9pm on Monday as we were coming home from seeing Camera Obscura, and it was noticeably cooler than earlier in the day. Eek.

I really hope it's cooler this weekend, because it's Lollapalooza weekend. Festivals in the sun are undoubtedly better than festivals in the rain, but festivals with heatstroke are probably quite unpleasant. Fingers crossed.

Anyways, here are some more photos. It wouldn't let me post any more yesterday for some reason known only unto itself - the little "upload photo" window kept coming up blank, which is really not useful.
The first three are of one of the Art Institute's gardens. One day there was a woman in there with a statue (above) that she would put somewhere and take photos from the other side of the garden, much to the confusion (and delight) of tourists who often posed with it for photos of their own.

This one is of me in the condo. Rob was playing with the camera and the "Pick a colour" function (which has some other name but I don't remember what). It's quite fun isn't it?

Then we have the black and white thing, which is also good.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


Decided it was time for photos of Chicago, so here are some. The above and below photos are of Michigan avenue on Independence Day, when it was closed due to the fireworks. Look at all the people trying to go home!

The skyline from out by the Planetarium

Mum in a nice Italian restaurant just off the swanky Rush St

My hair glows!

Look! This was taken the day it was done (or the day after, not sure) with a UV light. Fun, eh?
It's Special Effects Atomic Pink and Fishbowl.
These were taken in the daylight a couple of days later. The Fishbowl is already fading there, and now (about a week later) it's gone completely. My hair hates blue, which is unfortunate because I rather like it. Ah well, such is life.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

It's been a while again

But I don't really have time. Essays have finally become a priority (almost) so time is being spent researching those and doing all the other stuff that's become a norm, like meeting Rob for lunch (which takes 2 hours by the time I've got there and back) etc etc etc.

Went to see Cirque du Soleil's "Corteo" show on Saturday. It was amazing! Those people are crazy bendy, and strong, and just generally frightening. The premise of the show is that it's a clown's funeral which his ghost (I suppose) is presiding over, and the Cirque comes out to pay their respects in the ways they know best. So we had "kids" on trampoline beds, including one guy who kept bouncing on his back and then running up the headboard and coming to a dead stop balanced on the top of it (how is that even possible?). There were people behaving like cartwheels, in the middle of big metal rings - they looked like pennies spinning, but under more control. There were acrobats on chandeliers, acrobats on podium-type things throwing smaller acrobats to each other, acrobats on tightropes at 45 degree angles, acrobats on tethers that he kept holding in his mouth while she (not as small as the ones that were being thrown around) clung to him in improbable ways... a human marionette, a tiny (Russian) woman who was suspended beneath balloons (like a cartoon, but true), a crystal glass orchestra with the ringmaster whistling (better than it sounds), a man that ran up and down a ladder (not fixed to anything of course) and then did a handstand at the top of it, a scene with two people having an acrobatics fight over a see-saw (reminded me of "West Side Story" but more aerial)... All kinds of stuff. It was spectacular, which I think is the point, and made me feel entirely inadequate, but never mind.

There's a lot of shows in Chicago in the summer! I hadn't realised before because we've been based out in Naperville (which is a pain to get to) or have been up in Canada for the majority of the time I've been around. This Thursday we're going to see Muse, then on Friday Camera Obscura. Talvin Singh is playing at some point, Blackalicious (who I only know from the ridiculous song "Alphabet Aerobics", in which he uses as many words beginning with one letter as he can in two or three lines before moving on to the next), Tricky, a Foo Fighters acoustic gig... I'm sure there were some others but I don't think we have tickets for them yet. Oh and Lollapalooza adds about another hundred bands to that (obviously we won't see them all, but still). All in all, a fun summer!

That's about it for now, I'm sure I was going to write more but I just don't remember what. Ooh apart from the fact that my hair glows under UV light, which is very cool. I'll post a pic as soon as I find my camera cable, which I've mislaid – very upsetting. It'll turn up though.

Coffee is thicker than water...

(='.'=) This is Bunny. Copy and paste Bunny into your
(")_(") signature to help him gain world domination.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

I really need to update this more often

But I don't really have time. Essays have finally become a priority (almost) so time is being spent researching those and doing all the other stuff that's become a norm, like meeting Rob for lunch (which takes 2 hours by the time I've got there and back) etc etc etc.

Went to see Cirque du Soleil's "Corteo" show on Saturday. It was amazing! Those people are crazy bendy, and strong, and just generally frightening. The premise of the show is that it's a clown's funeral which his ghost (I suppose) is presiding over, and the Cirque comes out to pay their respects in the ways they know best. So we had "kids" on trampoline beds, including one guy who kept bouncing on his back and then running up the headboard and coming to a dead stop balanced on the top of it (how is that even possible?). There were people behaving like cartwheels, in the middle of big metal rings - they looked like pennies spinning, but under more control. There were acrobats on chandeliers, acrobats on podium-type things throwing smaller acrobats to each other, acrobats on tightropes at 45 degree angles, acrobats on tethers that he kept holding in his mouth while she (not as small as the ones that were being thrown around) clung to him in improbable ways... a human marionette, a tiny (Russian) woman who was suspended beneath balloons (like a cartoon, but true), a crystal glass orchestra with the ringmaster whistling (better than it sounds), a man that ran up and down a ladder (not fixed to anything of course) and then did a handstand at the top of it, a scene with two people having an acrobatics fight over a see-saw (reminded me of "West Side Story" but more aerial)... All kinds of stuff. It was spectacular, which I think is the point, and made me feel entirely inadequate, but never mind.

There's a lot of shows in Chicago in the summer! I hadn't realised before because we've been based out in Naperville (which is a pain to get to) or have been up in Canada for the majority of the time I've been around. This Thursday we're going to see Muse, then on Friday Camera Obscura. Talvin Singh is playing at some point, Blackalicious (who I only know from the ridiculous song "Alphabet Aerobics", in which he uses as many words beginning with one letter as he can in two or three lines before moving on to the next), Tricky, a Foo Fighters acoustic gig... I'm sure there were some others but I don't think we have tickets for them yet. Oh and Lollapalooza adds about another hundred bands to that (obviously we won't see them all, but still). All in all, a fun summer!

That's about it for now, I'm sure I was going to write more but I just don't remember what. Ooh apart from the fact that my hair glows under UV light, which is very cool. I'll post a pic as soon as I find my camera cable, which I've mislaid – very upsetting. It'll turn up though.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Utter nonsense

But quite funny. From the "Bad Jokes" pages of Wikipedia:

Phillippe Phloppe

Phillippe Phloppe (1215-1302) was the French inventor of the backless sandal.

Phloppe was born in the small French hamlet of Chue, in the region of Piedmont in Southern France nestled under the pyrenees. His father was a cobbler. Having served his apprenticeship, he moved to Sleeveiesse, where Napoleon is said to have kept his armies. His father had often compained that sandals with rear support, of the style that the Roman Army had conquered most of Europe on cost too much labour to construct particularly for the most important market of British holidaymakers who turned up in the region and discovered that their more traditional forms footwear acquired the odour of some of the local cheeses, and thus required cheap additional modes of transport.

Phloppe designed a version of the sandal without a back support, that was strong and sturdy, if a little difficult to run in, but did make an annoying tip-tap noise. One advantage of the lack of back support was that they could easily be removed for swimming. Phloppe's sandal was an immediate success, propelling him to fame and fortune. The sandal was further developed with the addition of a thong.

Fans of this type of footwear are said to include Formula One driver Michael Schumacher.

They seem to be the Devil.

This is what Rob found out when he got the invite email thingy and decided he didn't like it. I decided I'd pass it on so no-one else gets suckered into it (not that you would cos you're all too clever, but still...)

Friday, July 14, 2006

Still busy

And don't have the internet, so posting becomes more of an issue.
Currently I'm sitting in Rob's office waiting for him to finish work so we can go and get some food (I locked myself out of the flat, which wasn't very clever, but ok when it was warm and I could sit in the park... it's now almost 9 and I'm hungry!)
I don't actually know where my days are going. They all just seem to pass really fast and it's already the 13th of July... <sigh> silly time.
Anyways, I'm mostly just rambling because I decided I should update my blog since I'm in an office full of computers anyway (I'm using Jim's, so that's ok. He won't mind. Or even know, unless Rob tells him.)
Um. Independance Day stuff was fun, lots of people, lots of fireworks, lots of sitting in the office and drinking (it looks out toward the lake, which is where the fireworks were happening, and being on the 8th floor we got a really good view). Oh and eating sandwiches for the next week that had been bought by the company - they were expecting about 40 people and only 15 turned up, so we had lots and lots and lots of food and drink left over. Fun.
Also, watched the world cup final at Lee's house (he's from Bury, therefore very interested - as are most people in this company, with it being an international firm. Everyone seems to realise there's a world outside the US. I think some of them may even have passports. Don't tell the government.) That was also fun and involved more alcohol. There was a "wine and cheese battle" between France and Italy, since they were in the finals... it all made sense at the time.
Anyway, I appear to be spending more time thinking about what I'd like to eat that what I'm writing (I could probably be arrested for my above comments) so I'm going to stop writing and concentrate on getting Rob out of here. We should have the interweb (which I'm going to call the internet from now on) soon, so I keep getting told, so then I can type away to my heart's content and you'll all be bored of reading it.
Till then...
(oh and do you like my "Earth Status" tag? I thought it was good to know that the Earth is not destroyed. Of course, I don't think I'll be able to check if the Armageddon happens, but...)

Coffee is thicker than water...

(='.'=) This is Bunny. Copy and paste bunny into your
(")_(") signature to help him gain world domination.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006


Still not had chance to sit and write up all the stuff that I've been up to.

I will just say that moving into a flat a block away from the gay village on Pride weekend is fun, although not particularly efficient.

Coffee is thicker than water...

(='.'=) This is Bunny. Copy and paste bunny into your
(")_(") signature to help him gain world domination.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Happy Birthday Dad!

Yes, happy birthday to my Dad. As always, far too close to Father's Day :)

Coffee is thicker than water...

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


Here's a summary of what I've been up to in the past couple of weeks:


  • Moving from Montreal to Chicago, on a Greyhound via Toronto, Buffalo and Cleveland
  • Meeting my Mum at the airport (first time I've been standing on that side of the doors!)
  • Being a tourist in Chicago with Mum for a few days
  • Driving (or more accurately, being driven) up to Kenora and spending a few days out at the Lake of the Woods, showing Mum round camp and catching up with people there and generally enjoying the lake-ness of it all
  • Driving across to Regina to meet up with the Tullochs, going to a concert that Ian's school was doing, driving round Regina in the rain (it's where Rob grew up and I'd never been there)
  • More driving up to Naicam for the wedding of James (Rob's cousin) and Kelly (which was so much fun, even though we were camping in the rain and Mum got to stay in the hotel in the next town – the town was full of wedding party people and there were no more rooms)
  • Leaving bright and early the following morning and driving south for 14 hours one day and then 9 the next
  • Having dinner at Naperville when we got there, then heading back into the centre of Chicago for the night
  • Packing Rob off to work the next day and going shopping with Mum before taking her back to the airport exhausted
  • Trying to have a quiet couple of days cleaning and tidying before James and Kelly came to use the condo for their honeymoon – this was thwarted by video games and then Rob being recruited for softball
  • Meeting James and Kelly and then going out for beer and pizza, and then walking round Chicago at 1am looking at all the fancy cars
  • Shopping at the outlet village on Saturday, then having a barbecue out in Naperville
  • Going to the track that John (Rob's dad) is a member of and getting driven round it very fast, then making the cars limp home with no brake pads left (that was more scary than the track!)
  • Playing in the Children's Garden in the Arboretum J
  • Realising that I've got so much to write it'll take me about three weeks to get it all done.


So as you can see, been a bit busy! I'll spend time this week writing it all up, probably in sections so I don't get too bored and neither do you.


Also want to say Happy Father's Day to my Dad – there's a card, but it's not even posted yet… I'm a bad daughter.

Coffee is thicker than water...

Saturday, May 27, 2006


I've managed to pay my phone bill (in the third bank I tried... why do they close at 3? this is not a reasonable time for things to close).
Have not managed to cancel my phone, despite walking up to the shop with phone in box with everything, the bill to pay and the bills that were wrong. The stores don't take payments unless they're credit card and they don't deal with cancellations, meaniing I will still have my phone. What is wrong with this company? They've given me a $150 phone and I can't give it back to them? weird. So I came to the decision that procrastinating is good - I can keep my phone till I have finished with Canada altogether (after the wedding and stuff) and then cancel it, since I need to do that over the phone and pay the cancellation charge with my credit card anyway.

Still need to call the bank so I can see how much money I don't have (and be able to pay off my credit card bill when necessary, which was probably about 3 months ago). I hate companies.

My hands have decided to randomly generate black smudges on them whnever I do anything. This strikes me as odd. Must be bird flu/SARS (remember that?)/mad cow disease or something.

Anyway, I'm clearly going insane so I'll stop typing now and drink my coffee.

Coffee is thicker than water...

Friday, May 26, 2006

I also bought another suitcase a few days ago in order to get my massively expanded amount of stuff down to Chicago. I'm blaming (most of) it on Rob, since every time he came to visit he'd bring one of those business-type cases which contained more stuff for me (DVDs, books and the like) than stuff that he was going to use... but since he never took any of the stuff home, I now have all my stuff from Russia, stuff that I've bought here, and a whole schwackload of extra stuff. Ah well, I must say I appreciated having lots of reading material and stuff to watch.

Coffee is thicker than water...

I'm going to miss Quebecois

despite it's ridiculousness... for people who don't know what I'm talking about, there's this site (passed on to me by Lisa) which demonstrates the linguistic differences through the medium of Batman... funny! (Even if you don't understand French, just listen - they're supposed to be the same language, but you'd never know).

Coffee is thicker than water...

Monday, May 22, 2006

I think I forgot to mention...

that Rob and I have an apartment to live in over the summer :)

Rob's just put some photos up on his blog so you can see the area and stuff (and so can I, since I haven't actually been there yet)... we don't move in till the 24th June so Mum doesn't get to see it, but still. I get to be a housewife this summer, yay?

And in other news, I just found out (from watching a CBC show about the princes and the Prince's Trust) that Prince Charles likes Leonard Cohen. Who'd've guessed?

Coffee is thicker than water...

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Most especially for my Mum, so she can spot me in the airport... but also cos I'm proud of it :)

Only two weeks left!

Well 12 days actually. Where has my time gone?

It took me about an hour and a half to buy a coach ticket to Chicago yesterday. An hour and a half. I had to go from one counter to another, wait for an office to open, go back to hte first counter, and finally just refuse to move until people told me what I wanted to be told. That was an effective tactic, I think I'll use it again in future.

Anyway, I eventually managed to buy a ticket to Chicago via Toronto and Detroit. It'll take about 18hours, but that's better than the 24 - 36 they originally threatened me with.

And that's all I have for now, except that "V for Vendetta" is a much better film than the title implies. It's all very Orwellian (I like that adjective) and has some serious psychological themes, which is a refreshing change for a film based on a comic. Wow I made it sound really heavy. Oops.

Coffee is thicker than water...

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Ah travelling

it's complicated...

I want to buy a Greyhound ticket to go from Montreal to Chicago. This should be simple. I go to, and fill in all the things, and it tells me that if my travel plans involve the US I should go to the American site. So I do, and fill in all the forms again, and then I get to the billing page. Which wants US credit cards only. Ok, I think to myself, I can get Rob to buy it for me (hehehe)... and then I notice the shipping thing. It wants a US shipping address, and won't take any other kind. For a journey starting in Montreal, on a site I was told to go to by the Canadian version. I'm confused. Maybe I'll just have to be old-fashioned and physically buy my ticket <gasp>!

I went to the Biodome today, which was fun. There are different areas based on different climates in the Americas, starting in a rainforest and ending up in the Arctic and Antartic (yeah opposite sides of the globe but same kinda coldness). Lots of birds and fish and bats and the odd capybara :) which are fun, and puffins which wanted to swim on their backs which is just ridiculous but really funny to watch (they just kinda flip back the right way up despite all their best efforts) and penguins, which were the stars of the show after everyone saw "March of the Penguins" at Christmas :) . Lots of fun, even with bunches of kids around... I managed to time it so that I was between groups, and when I found something I wanted to watch for longer than the kids behind me (ie everything, but most particularly the beavers) I just let them pass... at the end I watched a falconry display, which made me want to be a falconer like they always do (how do you get involved in that kind of job anyway?).

And that's that for now, quick update. Oh and my photos worked last time, yay for that.

Coffee is thicker than water...

Friday, May 12, 2006

Just a quick one

Cos I've been doing stuff and the library is going to close soon.

I've been quite adventurous the past few days, getting up early and going to places like a good tourist. On Tuesday I went up the mountain twice (once because it was really early and nowhere was open, and then again after paying my tuition and buying the new Chili Peppers CD because I enjoyed it the first time) and took photos. And when I went home I collapsed on the bed and slept, because that was the most exercise I've done in ages and I'm pathetic... then today I went to the Jardin Botanique, which was really pretty with more flowers that when I was last there (for the butterflies) and yet still free because it's not tourist season yet :) this made me happy when I was expecting to pay to get in. I took a lot of photos there too, but my camera didn't seem to want to give them to me... some of them are also various strange colours, as if the ink was running out or something (except there's no ink in digital cameras, so I think it's just dying a death). I fought and won, but I don't know whether I will next time...

As for posting photos, I'll give it a shot on here but if anyone is on FaceBook and would like to see them, I'm in the Durham network (you may need to sign up for the site to see them, so don't worry if you don't want to).

Have also persuaded my mum to come to Canada when she's over visiting me in Chicago :) Rob's cousin James is getting married, so there's a wedding to go to! (Amazing how many people keep assuming it's my wedding - Mindy, you weren't the first). So that'll be fun.

Anyways, going to try and post some pics now, wish me luck with this temperamental thing...

Coffee is thicker than water...

Saturday, May 06, 2006

This is a great website. There's lots of hidden things too, so it kept me entertained for a lot longer than it should have!

Coffee is thicker than water...

Harry Potter again

So while browsing FaceBook, which is the scourge of every student this year (seriously I think the entire university is a member) I happened to join the "F**k this, I wanna go to Hogwarts" group... which led me to the Dumbledore is not dead website. I thought I'd been thinking about these damn books too much, but I've got nothing on these guys.

Coffee is thicker than water...

Friday, May 05, 2006

It's May

Already. I'm not quite sure what to make of this.

My weekend in Toronto was fun, all sunny and good for weddings and stuff. Thursday was not too exciting to start off with, as Rob was technically working and I have had enough of wandering aimlessly around cities on my own, at least for a while. So I stayed with Rob and his freelancer Matthew, who was cool and had the best handlebar moustache I've ever seen. There was a lot of non-work talk (which was good for me, but not so good for productivity) and then computer batteries ran out because we were in a coffee shop with wireless access but no plug sockets... so we went back to the hotel and I read the best part of a book while Rob and Matthew worked. Then it was late and we were hungry, so we went to a place called C'est What? for bison burgers and beer :) I like bison, it's like beef but more so. And with 70-odd kinds of beer to choose from, we were happy. Eventually I decided that I wanted to play pool, and won three out of four games by default (yay other people fouling on the black) and then lost the other. I blame it on the drunkenness that occurs when you drink before eating for the first time in 11 hours. Others might say I'm just not a good pool player.

Friday began with a hangover, as might have been expected. Rob was better than me, he drank more water and was therefore up and about a good couple of hours before I was... by the time I was up it was time to go for lunch with Andrea, Rob's friend from university and the bride-to-be. We went for Thai, which was really good, and chatted about life and love and all that kind of thing. It was nice to finally meet her, since I was going to her wedding the day after! After lunch we wandered around a bit and watched some TV and generally chilled out before going for sushi at about 10pm. Then we watched "Howl's Moving Castle" which was awesome!

The next day we were up early(ish) and went for breakfast at a place that promised the best apple cake in the world. I don't think they were lying either, it was amazing and I'm so glad that place isn't in Montreal otherwise all my money would be spent there. Then we wandered around a bit more, just enjoying the sun and seeing some of Toronto before the wedding. The service was held in a hall about 15 min walk from the hotel, which was very pretty. Andrea looked beautiful, Carlos cried as he read his vows (they had the standard vows and they'd written their own too) which almost made me cry cos I'm soppy. It was a short service but nice, and afterwards we found another of Rob's friends from university called Chris, and made arrangements to get out to the reception with him and his girlfriend.

By this point we were both very hungry, apple cake being well and truly gone, so we went to the market for fish and chips. We're nothing if not classy, wandering around feeling very overdressed! Then we set off for a walk fairly aimlessly, taking in the CN tower (which we nearly went up, but the queue to buy tickets was long and we weren't feeling patient), Chinatown and other random parts of the city (what IS the Mars centre?). Four hours later we were collapsed in the hotel room ready to never move again, but then Chris was in a taxi and coming for us.

The trip out to Missisauga (which I think I've spelt correctly) was a bit of a hassle, since the main expressway was closed. Yes, that's right, the biggest city in Canada closes its main artery to and from the international airport for a weekend when the baseball team is playing. Clever. So traffic was chaos and it took us well over an hour to do a 20 minute drive. I thought I was going to die, since I was in the front and the driver kept changing lanes without really checking that it was safe to do so, resulting in several near misses. I was glad of the open bar at the reception!

The reception itself was much like any other, good food, lots to drink and a bad DJ. It was fun though, and that's all that matters.

Then it was Sunday, and time to be packing and leaving and stuff. It was also the only time I was glad that a flight was cancelled, as Air Canada calls Rob and tells him he's on a later flight giving us an extra couple of hours together, yay!

Now I'm looking for places to rent this summer in Chicago, so I can pass the details on to Rob and he can go check them out... we're a disastrously disorganised couple, I meant to start this weeks ago...

Coffee is thicker than water...

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Changing names and things

When were "they" going to tell us folks on our year abroad that the name of our university has been changed from the University of Durham to Durham University? And that they've changed the crest from to make it look like clipart? I'm angry about this. Here's the old and here's the new (top left), and if the old name and crest aren't on my graduation papers I'm not going to be happy, because I applied to the University of Durham and that's where I'm studying. So there.

Apart from that, I'm off to Toronto on Wednesday. That should be fun, since last time I was there it was only for a few hours before I got on a plane to come back home. This time it's for a wedding. No, not mine (at least not that I know of), a friend of Rob's. So exploring Toronto will be fun, and since the weather's being well behaved at the moment it should be a nice trip.

I can't think of the name Toronto without thinking of a song by the Arrogant Worms which starts off by trashing Toronto (or T-dot if you're cool), and then goes on to insult every town in Ontario, and then every province in Canada except Alberta, because "Albertaaaaa... doesn't suck. But Calgary doessss." It's a great song.

In other news, why won't Gmail Chat work in FireFox? It's there, I can see it, but it won't connect... I don't want to use IE, it sucks!
And that's quite enough of that for now. Wow everything I find today makes me angry apparently!
Coffee is thicker than water...

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Another try... if it works there should be a pic of me snowboarding...


So I can't send photos to my blog through email... and when I upload them properly I get two little squares. Hmm. If you click on the squares you do get the photos, but that's not how it was supposed to work!

Coffee is thicker than water...
Just a couple of photos, because it's been a while :)

Another week!

Wow time is fast.

Anyways, happy easter to everybody (and happy patriot's day to those in the US, although it does strike me as very strange that the Americans don't celebrate Easter Monday - the day when Jesus rose from the dead, the third day after Good Friday - but instead try to make people patriotic).

And also happy birthday to my Mum!

So let's see... Rob was here this weekend again, from Wednesday night. Technically he was working on Thursday, so I went to class and he met up with his freelancer and talked about stuff and ended up with a lot of trade magazines. In the afternoon we made shortbread and watched a film called Mirrormask, which is by Neil Gaiman and is very trippy. It's like a dream but you're awake...

Friday was Good Friday, so a day off from college. It was also a nice day, so we walked downtown in the sun and did some shopping. You'd think I'd know not to go shopping with Rob by now. We ended up with a lot of blooming tea, which becomes flowers when you put hot water on it and looks very pretty (and actually tastes good too), and a fantastic pair of hand-painted jeans which have a Japanese-style lady and butterflies on them. They're awesome and I'll post a pic when I have one.

I've discovered the library. Not that it was lost, but it has free wireless internet so I can do things like post photos cos I'm not on dialup!

Can you tell I've not had coffee yet, even though it's 6pm?

Anyway, back to the weekend. I don't remember much else of what we did, it was mostly just enjoying each other's company (aww) and lots of cooking. Sunday was good though, we were invited to Fraser's place for an Easter dinner which was awesome! Raff brought ham, Niki and Fraser provided yams, pasta salad and green beans and me and Rob made pie and brought ice cream. And Easter nests, the chocolate/cornflake creations that you make in primary school and think you've done some baking :) . I'd mentioned them to Fraser and he thought I was crazy, but they went down really well. Anything with chocolate is good.

After that meal (which left everyone stuffed and ready to sleep) we went down to the Cock and Bull to watch my roommates play in their band. Rob and I didn't stay very long - we'd been drinking since two in the afternoon so by midnight it was time to leave! We went home and redyed the blue on my hair instead. Yay.

Coffee is thicker than water...

Wednesday, April 12, 2006


It's been a while again. Sorry.
Let's see... the weekend before last Rob was here (yay) which was fun! We went to see butterflies at the Jardin Botanique, which was awesome even if it did involve lots of kids wandering around asking their parents "Ou sont les papillons?" in the greenhouse that was showing desert plants. Erm, not here. But it was a good display, and there was a very very cool caterpillar which was blue with orange spikes and was rapidly demolishing a rather large leaf. It was fascinating, at least for me as I had visions of "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" (best kids book ever) in my head... Rob wasn't quite as impressed after we'd stood and watched it for about twenty minutes. Silly ADD.
Today is my friend Danielle's birthday, so it's going to be another late one :) and this after I've promised to miss no more classes after a disastrous week last week where I simply couldn't motivate myself... so my plan is to celebrate in moderation. We all know how well that will go, especially since I always plan to be moderate on a Sunday night at the pub where my housemates play in a band... getting home at 3.30 very drunk and having to be in class five hours later is apparently my new definition of moderation. Hmm.
Anyways, it's time for me to go and "present" something that will lead to a conversation... my feeling is that anything has to be better than the conversation about anorexia and extreme dieting we just had.
More tomorrow (when Rob will arrive again too! Woot!)

Coffee is thicker than water...

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Ah the joys of bureaucracy

Which may or may not be spelt correctly. It's one of those words.
So it appears that my plans to study in the states are scuppered (good word that). Basically, after calling a big long list of colleges in Chicago yesterday (that was a fun way to spend my morning) I found out that the immigration people have a great system, whereby if I want a student visa I need to take a full degree-type course for three years or whatever. I can't study on a tourist visa except for "incidental study" whatever that might be (the lady I was talking to didn't know either, she'd had different answers from different immigration officials), and that only gives me three months anyway. What annoys me is that if I wasn't British and didn't have a visa waiver agreement with the US then I'd have to get a visa, which could be anything up to two years. But because Britain is a friendly country, I can't stay in the States for an extra 30 days. Make sense to you? Certainly doesn't to me.
Anyway, enough of that. I passed my exam with 94% and my course with 93%, so now I'm in level 8... wooo... and should really get back to my lesson. Just felt like ranting (again) about the crazy US immigration system.

Coffee is thicker than water...

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Another week

For a while I was getting better at this updating thing, apparently that's gone by the wayside...
Although truth be told, it's not been that exciting a week. It's the final week of my course (again, already - need to register for next month) so I just had an exam. It was ok, it was just an essay (yay for it not being pure hard grammar!) and I picked the topic about whether natural fur should be sold... oooh controversial! So we'll see how that goes.
I also really really need to call Columbia College in Chicago, to see if they'll let me enroll for the summer as a "student-at-large", a description which I find almost as funny as the "exceptionally talented alien" on the US immigration forms... basically it means a student who isn't aiming for a degree at that college, but I'm not sure what their position is on international students-at-large... or what forms I'd have to fill out. As a safeguard I have all the forms I can find downloaded on my little USB stick, so when I find out all I have to do is print and write...
Also, I find this really funny. And this, because it's how I feel every morning.
I apparently need coffee.
Anyways, Rob's here this weekend, woot! We're going to go and see butterflies at the Jardin Botanique, which will be fun. Yay butterflies! Be prepared for lots of pictures of things that may or may not be butterflies... After that there's a show at Main Hall (which is where my housemates played last week) with bluegrassy-type bands, including Luther Wright (who did a fantastically bizarre bluegrass version of Pink Floyd's The Wall with his band The Wrongs). Lisa has made me promise to go, so I'm dragging Rob along too :) boyfriends are good for that.
Good thing Gmail autosaves now, Internet Explorer (boo) decided to close on me. Grr.
I still have half an hour to type randomness at you. I could spend it doing something useful, of course, but where's the fun in that?
So do I buy coffee now or do I rely on the fact that we're probably going to the cafe in a bit, as we never do anything remotely resembling work after things so strenous as tests... ok that's not a fact, but still better that I spotted the typo that left "tests" as "testes". As long as I didn't do something like that in my exam, we'll be ok...
Coffee is thicker than water...

Thursday, March 23, 2006

It's been a week?

Really? Wow...
So I talked to the immigration lawyer, she said that basically the immigration people will just turn me down if I simply ask for an extension as they'll assume I'm just trying to work illegally. Silly American immigration, not everyone wants to live in the States! She suggested that I register for classes instead, so most of last week was sending off frantic emails to colleges in Chicago asking them about their summer courses... I'm thinking something completely unrelated to my degree would be nice, perhaps photography (then I can learn how to use Rob's fancy camera) or philosophy or comparative religions... something "fun". Still waiting for replies from most of them though. Boo.
St Patrick's Day weekend was a lot of fun, if a lot of the same place. We ended up in the Cock and Bull on Friday as it was the only place without queues to get in of about 2 blocks, and the guys were playing there on Saturday so we were there again... but it was good, the atmosphere was great and we made friends with the staff of the newly-opened kitchen (which is always important I feel). Saturday daytime involved lots of watching films and general chilling out, and Sunday we tried to catch the parade but pancakes came first so we missed it... we still caught the hordes of people enjoying being able to drink on the street though. Surprisingly it wasn't too bad, there was a festival kind of atmosphere rather than the "let's get drunk and cause trouble" that tends to happen in Britain.
But now I'm ill, and it sucks. The other girl in my class was ill last week, and now both me and the teacher are coughing away quite merrily... So I took two days off class, and am still the only one in today. Four hours of French when your head feels like cotton wool is challenging!
Anyways, back to it with a coffee I think. I've got an appointment with someone to see whether I can get more meds here (the ones Gulya bought me in Russia are running out) so I have to hang around here till 3... I'll no doubt write some more when I have nothing better to do. Don't you all feel loved? :P

Coffee is thicker than water...

Thursday, March 16, 2006

It was spring

But now it's snowing again. Hmm.
I had an exam this morning, it seemed fairly ok but then I don't have the marks yet :)
This afternoon involves calling the Tullochs' immigration lawyer to see what she reckons is the best plan for me to be able to spend four months in teh US and actually be allowed to do stuff like volunteer and take classes etc... it sounds like a lot of work! But in a good way, if it lets me spend time with my boy. Aww sweet.
And that's about it for now, last night I was revising and reading (as if I've almost finished the third Harry Potter in French! Means I need to go and buy the other three). Woo my life is exciting like that. Although it is St Patrick's Day on Friday, which is apparently a big thing here in Montreal, so that's going to be a party!

Coffee is thicker than water...

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

I'm reading far too much into this

But I've decided that Harry Potter himself is the last Horcrux in which Voldemort has stored part of his soul.
The more I think about it, the more it makes sense. I was reading the second book (in French, get me) and I got to thinking. If Voldemort gave some of his powers to Harry accidentally while trying to kill him (eg the ability to speak Parseltongue, the fact that he can feel when Voldemort is happy or angry etc) then does that not mean that a part of Voldemort resides in Harry? We already know (I think) that Horcruxes can be living things - there was the snake with a funny name that I can't remember. One of the conditions of making a Horcrux was that someone had to be killed, which in this case would be Harry's mother. It makes sense to me that if someone was to split their soul it would weaken them incredibly for a time afterwards, and everyone knows that Voldemort disappeared after he failed to kill Harry... so what if he made Harry a Horcrux, either on purpose or accidentally? It would be a great way to end the series of books if to eliminate Voldemort Harry had to die, and would stop any temptations Rowling might have to keep writing after the seven books are over.
Yes, like I said, I'm reading far too much into this but it came to me in a flash of inspiration. Let me know what you think, I'm off back to my French class and the joyous subjunctive!

Coffee is thicker than water...

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Intensive French classes

The only problem I have with there being only two of us in the class is that when the other girl doesn't show up (like today) I have one on one French tuition for four hours. It's exhausting and I've only been here an hour and a half!
Luckily for the next hour or so we're watching some Quebecois comedy show (I'm not sure whether I'll understand it or not) and then it's the traditional cafe outing. Yay Fridays.
Later will be going to see my flatmates play at the Crescent St Pub. Now, this pub is right next door to Brutopia, which means that Danielle and myself (and possibly Lisa, when I get around to inviting her) will be going there first for raspberry blondes (which is a lager, not a kind of person) and then ginger beer. Oh yes.
Tomorrow I'm planning on shopping in cheap outlet type places. Six months with just the clothes I can fit in a suitcase means that I'm now rather bored of what I have (it's a hard life, isn't it?) so it's time for some retail therapy!
That's all for now. I do quite like being able to use a computer lab with high speed internet (although they don't have FireFox, which I think is a serious error and results in me having many many windows open at once) so I think I'll be more inclined to update more often. Hahaha you don't get to escape my ramblings (well yes, you do, but it's not nice to ignore me).

Coffee is thicker than water...

Friday, March 10, 2006


Which although it is a strange name for a post, is the name of the group I saw last night. They were awesome!
Let's start with the venue, the Lion d'Or. It's a stunning old dance hall kind of place, very classy. There were tables set up around the edges with tablecloths on them and stuff like that, like a proper cabaret style.
The first set was the guy (I think he's called Ben, but I'm not sure) with all his electronic stuff (ie laptop and many wires leading to various boxes of fun) providing the beats, and then another guy on a drum kit playing along... it was crazy madness, and absolutely brilliant. If you closed your eyes you couldn't really tell who was doing what, but it's quite something to watch a drummer actually playing the drums in drum'n'bass!
The second set was even more extraordinary, involving five or six violinists, two cellists and a soprano opera singer... once again it was the guy doing his electric thing, and conducting his mini-orchestra (yes I know there's a technical name but since I can't remember how many people were playing I can't say it was a septet or something). The result was... very "Rob" is the only way I can think of describing it at the moment! Kind of Delirium. I would never have thought that German opera could go well with electronica, but it worked.
Unfortunately we had to leave before the end, as it was time to catch the last metro... but if I get chance to see them again, I'll be there (possibly with bells on, as the saying goes).
Anyway, that was my night. Now I'm back in LaSalle learning French, with a shiny new student card (which has a really stupid photo... why am I not photogenic in any way shape or form?) and it's time for coffee. Mmmm coffee.
Coffee is thicker than water...

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

A mixed bag of stuff

I got a phone call from my mum the other day telling me that my great-grandad had died. I wish everyone at home the best and I want you all to know I'm thinking of you even though I'm far away. Keep me up to date with what's happening. Rest in peace Grandad, I'll miss you.

On a more positive note, I managed to find somewhere that wants to teach me French! This I feel quite proud of. I'm now attending College LaSalle 5 mornings a week from 8.30am to 12.30ish. That's early for me, but it makes me get up and do stuff - I can come home at 1ish and feel like I've done something (and feel superior to whoever's just getting up when I get home). So far the course is a little slow, but since there are only two of us in the class I think I can cope! The teacher is a Quebecer this time, so he's a little harder to understand, but he's fulfilling the Francophone stereotype (it's entirely my stereotype, but people keep reinforcing it) of being crazy. So that's fun. On Fridays we apparently spend the last hour of the class in a cafe, which as anyone who knows me will also know, is my favourite place for doing things like that. I did after all revise for my A-Levels in a pub.

Tomorrow we (Spencer, Danielle, possibly Lisa, and I) are off to see some kind of show that involves mixing drum'n'bass style beats with a classical quartet... I'm intrigued! There's a website which you can check out here which has some samples, which I haven't checked out because I'm on dialup but I'll let you know what it's like. Exciting stuff!

Also exciting is trying to get a visa for the US that will let me stay for longer than the 90 days I get on the visa waiver programme (which I'm spelling the English way cos I'm English. Go figure). So far I've managed to fill in a nice form with a barcode (oooh technical) that will apparently make it all easier and quicker, and I've booked an interview at the Montreal consulate/embassy place. Only thing is, the earliest available interview date is the 10th of April. That's a long time away! So now I wait, and try not to be impatient. But it is kind of bizarre that for a country with "secure borders and open doors" all I seem to be able to find are doors that are closed and reluctant to open for anything slightly beyond the norm.

Really I just like complaining about immigration people in general. I should wait until they've actually been mean before I complain too much though!

That's all for now. I should be getting a student card tomorrow that will let me use the computer labs at LaSalle, so I might even get around to posting some pictures soon...
Coffee is thicker than water...

Tuesday, February 28, 2006


So the course at the YMCA that I was going to register for at 8.30 this morning (after being out till 3.30 or so - that was silly) isn't actually running this session... or rather the courses are happening, just not for the level that I want... so now I'm researching other schools to learn French at. Suppose I should have found this out sooner, but still.

I will learn French somehow!

Last weekend's visit was very cool, although due to snow and wind and general weather Rob didn't get in till 4am. It's a good job he phoned in advance and gave Brian the chance to back out on doing the airport run! But all's well that ends well. We spent most of Saturday shopping (it's nice to have another pair of hands to carry groceries) and then went to watch the guys play at Brutopia, which was pretty awesome. They have good beer there. It's a microbrewery (apparently) which means they brew their own stuff. I recommend the raspberry blonde and the ginger beer (yes, proper ginger beer!). It was exciting... I wasn't sure if I liked it at first but, as the Kras crew will affirm, it takes eight tries before you like something and I like to think of myself as patient... :)

I went walking on the mountain the other day. It was very cool! I like having a big hill right in the middle of a city, c'est fun (as the Quebecois say). It was a gorgeous day too, unlike today which is cold... I suppose it is still February. Anyways, lots of people were out sledging and skating and cross-country skiing and just wandering around... there were also a lot of squirrels. I mean a LOT. And they're cheeky little things too - if you stand still for long enough they'll come and sniff at your shoes, trying to make out if you have any food. Or maybe whether you are any food, I'm not sure. It felt like the scene from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory... I was saved by the large group of over-excited school children behind me.

Other than that and the bed that Rob randomly decided I needed (and which I do appreciate, thanks hon) it's been a fairly uneventful week. Now I'm off to get someone to teach me French (you'd think it'd be easy in a bilingual city in a "bilingual" country...)

Coffee is thicker than water...

Saturday, February 18, 2006

I need to get better at updating this

But still, I am now. So better late than never eh?

Let's see... the peppers thing is still a mystery, Cozi said that she would do it but I've heard nothing since... I'm as excited as everybody else to know how that went!

It's almost the end of my French class already. I don't know quite how that happened, but still... we had a Valentine's party the other night, where everyone brought food and we just chatted in French about how we didn't like Valentine's day. I must just say that Maria and Claudia's tortillas and tinga (I think that's how it's spelt) was amazing and I want to be Mexican just so I can make food like that. When this class finishes, I'm thinking of taking a day course (ie one that happens at day rather than at night) so that I feel like I have some structure to my time here (and actually have to get out of bed!)

When I got home from that class, there were a dozen red roses waiting for me :) even though I dislike Valentine's day I appreciate flowers! Spencer didn't though, he came down with bad allergic reactions to the baby's breath (I think) that was in the vase too... ah well. I got flowers and it made me happy! (Thanks Rob)

I saw an awesome band on Wednesday, in this random vegan cafe place. It all felt very French at first, with the little upstairs room and the trio of drums, double bass and accordion/piano... these guys had a very Jeff Buckley kind of sound, Mindy you would have loved it! Then later more members of hte band turned up and it all got crazy... there were two performance poets, the original trio, and a guy who was beat-boxing like nothing I've ever heard before... I bought cds. I'm listening to them. They're good.

In other exciting news, Rob gets in tonight for a long weekend visit (it's some holiday in the US, so he can stay here till Monday night) :) . Brian has very kindly offered to do the airport run for us, because he's cool. I'm appreciative.

That's about all for now. I promise I'll update more next week.

Coffee is thicker than water...