Thursday, January 19, 2006

Birthday Wishes

Just to say I hope my sister had a very good 18th yesterday, and isn't too hungover today... and good luck with your exams!

And a happy birthday to my nan tomorrow, sorry I can't be there but have fun anyway (I know it might be hard... :) )

Coffee is thicker than water...

Silly Montreal

It appears the weather everywhere in the world is crazy. We had snow, then it all froze to a nice glassy finish, and this morning as I was heading to the metro it was raining (and hasn't stopped) resulting in the pavements having that well-known adhesive surface of ice overlaid with water. I (and the rest of the people I saw out) walked on the road. Well, they should grit the pavements too!

So what, you may ask, was I doing out in the morning? It is a good question. I was on my way to talk to a very nice lady from the YMCA language school, to see about volunteering (and possibly getting paid... but visas are funny things). Here's what happened:

I went in, we had a chat, she said volunteering would be fine and she'd see about a reduction in the cost of a French class (obviously I'm not needed to teach French, cos that'd be silly). So I did the test de niveau and got 5 (out of 6, not bad when I haven't spoken French since June and kept trying to answer in Russian) and the lady who did my conversation part said I could join the evening class which has already started, but only a week ago. That's tomorrow night.
When I came home, I got a phone call saying that I could start the class tomorrow (just to make sure I knew) and that because I was volunteering I wouldn't have to pay the $115 foreign person registration fee and would also get 10% off the cost of the course. Not bad for an hour a week taking an oral class!

So that's good, I'll head off to class tomorrow night and realise I really shouldn't be there... :)

But at least it means progress is being made on the speaking of French in Montreal, a surprisingly difficult task in a city where you're greeted in shops by "Bonjour, can I help you ce matin?". Takes a bit of getting used to.
Coffee is thicker than water...

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Looks like I left Russia at the right time!

Found this on the BBC -

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Last Updated: Tuesday, 17 January 2006, 12:08 GMT
Arctic cold snap tests Russians
Workers clearing snow in Moscow
Moscow has not suffered such bitter cold for years
Schoolchildren are missing classes and boiler faults have left some households shivering as Arctic cold grips Russia.

It is the coldest January in Moscow for at least a decade and forecasters predict the temperature will plummet to minus 34C in the city this week.

Traffic police have been told they can wear felt boots to work, to go with their winter underwear and fur hats.

Meanwhile, a circus in Yaroslavl is reportedly giving its elephants vodka.

"We warm them up with alcohol," their trainer Andrei Kornilov was quoted as saying.

Help for homeless

The cold was blamed for boiler problems across Russia. One hospital in Ulan-Ude, eastern Siberia, was left without heating in minus 40C.

Moscow's homeless - estimated to number about 10,000 - are seeing some benefits from the cold, however, the Izvestia newspaper reports.

Russian winter swimmers near Moskva River
Chilled out: "Walrus" winter swimmers near the Moskva River
The police have been told to be kinder than usual towards them, and helpful signs at railway stations and markets tell them where they can get hot food and medical attention, Izvestia says.

Nevertheless, two people died of hypothermia in Moscow overnight and another 14 were taken to hospital, Interfax reported.

Extreme cold in the Sverdlovsk region of the Urals sparked several bus fires through short-circuits, the IA-Regnum news agency said.

It has also been blamed for several cash machine and electronic security door breakdowns in Yekaterinburg.

But the famous Russian "walrus" club, whose members love to plunge into icy water in mid-winter, remains undeterred.

"We'll go bathing even if it reaches minus 60, like they do in Yakutia," said the club's chairman Vladimir Grebenkin.

"Walrus bathing doesn't stop - the season started at the end of December and it will end as planned in March," he told Interfax.



Ukrainians fear winter chill
02 Jan 06 |  Europe
Country profile: Russia
03 Jan 06 |  Country profiles

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Coffee is thicker than water...

Friday, January 13, 2006


I'm finally in Montreal, which I finally got around to exploring today (we've been having issues with not having enough keys, but they arrived today so I disappeared off into town). I like the city, although I did end up a bit lost and in a sketchy part of town... but then I found the gay village and felt ok :)

I'm trying to get a job sorted out, but I can't remember how to write a cv in French... I have one on my computer but not the programme to open it with! Ah well it will be good practice. There's a few climbing walls around here so if the Language school thing doesn't work out I'm going to try to do something in one of those. I keep calling the woman from the YMCA, but keep getting her voicemail - maybe she changed her mind about me!

Ok well back to the searching of how to write in French...

Coffee is thicker than water...

Saturday, January 07, 2006


It's been a busy time!

Fernie was amazing, all Rocky Mountain-y and stuff. Not much snow, more rain (which I complained about - I mean I went all that way for snow and got rain! The cheek!).

Christmas felt a bit strange away from home, I felt like I'd missed it somehow! But I got to talk to all my family and stuff so that was good. The Tullochs are a friendly bunch too, so even though it was strange it was still good and I felt very welcome. Lots of Christmas pudding too, which is always good!

When we actually got some snow, Alison (Rob's brother's girlfriend) and I went for some snowboarding lessons - it was so much fun! Our instructor was a guy from Glasgow, which made me feel like I was at home... there was lots of falling over as you might expect, but it was easier than I thought it would be. Well, part of it was! I can heel-side quite well, because I'm facing down the slope and that's ok, but I can't toe-side very well - facing up the slope and going down effectively backwards is really strange! Anyway, we eventually got brave enough to go on a proper run and not the little hill we were learning on... I was working on going from heel to toe (I can do toe to heel) when I had a bit of a fall and sprained my wrist really painfully :(

So we came off the hill, unsurprisingly cos I don't like being in pain, and Rob's mum made us go to the hospital. Canadian hospitals are expensive for a Brit who is used to walking in and being treated for free! $400 as a standard fee and then another $50 for seeing a doctor... but the x-ray was free. It's not broken so that's good! I felt better than the guy who came in as I was leaving who had his arm all bandaged up and a dislocated shoulder... when the doctor asked him what he'd done, he just said "You tell me". Good answer.

Anyway, I now owe Rob $450 which I hope my insurance will pay up. I have enough paperwork to keep them busy for a while, so it should be ok. I still can't heel-to-toe either. Next time (I can just picture my mum shaking her head in despair!).

Other things I remember from Fernie are Peter learning how to dance like an Oompa-Loompa, which was hilarious, sitting in the hot tub with beer (mmmm) and the madness of the stockings (aka ski boots... yes, eeewww but they fit more in :) ) - Billy's stocking stuffer was a pack of cards which had George Bush's head superimposed on lots of different women's bodies (creepy), and Peter's was a Santa made from toilet roll, complete with hat. Genius!

New Year's was spent at a friend's house here in Winnipeg. Good party which lasted far too long!

Now we've only got another couple of days before I head off to Montreal, and Rob leaves for Chicago. That's going to be strange! But before that, we've got people to see and films to watch. We saw Narnia the other day, which I enjoyed, and today we're planning on going to Harry Potter because I still haven't seen it and that's bad.

Ok Rob's finally got moving so I think we're off shortly. Like I keep saying, more when I can!

Coffee is thicker than water...

Monday, January 02, 2006

Just a quick one to wish everybody a very Merry Christmas (belated I know) and a Happy New Year!

Currently at a party in Winnipeg with a sprained wrist from snowboarding... makes a good story though!

More when I have more time.

Sara xx