April 30, 2004

Rome

… be back in a couple of days…

filles at 12:54 pm

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April 29, 2004

more links

I’ve been meaning to add some new links to my blog roll (on your right). A couple more blogs that I frequent…

filles at 7:16 pm

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new neighbours

There is a fine line between being a friendly neighbour and a neighbour from hell. I am about to step out onto that tightrope. After 11.5 months here in Glasgow (yes! it’s been that long!) we are getting neighbours in our building. Officially they are next door. But in reality, they are located in our building, only their front door entrance is via next door, and their back door entrance is through our building. Yep, imagine the mess their going to have with the utilities companies!!!

Anyway. These 2 buildings were bought by a property developer a couple of years back, who gutted them and tarted them up with cheap interiors. What they also did, and for the life of me I can’t fathom why, is they moved all the front doors so that they entranced through No: 1. The only apartment that uses the front door for No: 2 is us on the top floor.

It’s nice for us, we come in through a grand entrance, then up 3 flights of winding elegant staircase to the top floor, and there under a skylight is our apartments front door. Half of our furniture is out in the hallway. We have chairs (to rest in on your way up) plants, shoes, bikes, paintings and recyling all at various levels.

Officially no-one uses our hallway nor entrance. In reality, the keys for the main front doors are the same, and the folk in No: 1 have to come in via No: 2 to get to the back courtyard and the bins. All except our new neighbours, who have an exit from their apartment in the basement, to our hallway leading to the back courtyard/parking bin area.

And so today was the big moving in day. We’ve known about it for some time. It started with small things. Minor repairs were getting fixed all of a sudden. Things started getting cleaned up. Flowers were put in the hall. A small courtyard was made in the front of the building. Plants went onto the front railings.. I cornerd the guy from the property developers one afternoon, and found out that they were selling one of the apartments downstairs. I talked my way into the apartment for a sticky beak. Strange shape, half basement, half 1st level – actually a 3 story apartment. 3 bedrooms but a decidedly odd arrangement. The price they were asking was crazy, I said to Michelle “there is no way they’ll sell that!” Then the following week, a furniture truck arrived. 12 hours later, I managed to talk to one of the removalists and found out that it was a hire company. They were hired to decorate and furnish the apartment as a part of the sales pitch. £20,000 later, I got to stick my nose in the front door, and wow! what a difference. I would have bought it myself! Imagine spending that kind of money on renting furniture and decorations just to sell the place?

Anyway, 1 week later the apartment was sold. They didn’t even have enough time to put up a for sale sign. The first sign that went up was “sold”. The furniture hire company came by 3 weeks later and took all the decorations and furniture away. Money well spent I’d say. It’s amazing what people will tell you when you ask… I knew who bought it, and for how much only hours after the paperwork was signed. (I should have been a detective)

And then today another truck, this time with regular things like ironing boards, washing baskets you know the type of stuff, not fancy hired furniture, but trusty necessities arrived.

Now I want to make a good impression. I’ve been told that the new owners were a “young couple” and so were hoping that they were going to be cool enough to share their sunny front courtyard with us – just a few plants, deckchairs you know – all our outdoor furniture from the terrace in Montreal needs somewhere to go…

So in an effort to appear friendly not freaky, casual not crazy – I stopped by our local organic grocers this afternoon and picked up some handmade chocolates as a gift for our new neighbours. Now I didn’t think it through clearly, as I ended up with some lovely chocolates, in a regular plastic bag, tied up with a knot at the top – definitely not Martha Stewart style, but nonetheless, a small “welcome to the neighbourhood” gift.

Suffice to say I think the gift was appreciated. Our new neighbours will be arriving on the weekend. I met the mother who was quite lovely. She was just doing some initial installations and cleaning and gracefully accepted my gift and welcome, and assured me that her daughter will be pleased to meet me next week on our return from Rome.

I left there feeling quite happy. Considering I was a bit grubby, and the presentation of my gift left something to be desired, I think the outcome was still quite positive. Now I just need to make sure the next time I put on a clean shirt and mention our outdoor furniture is teak – maybe that will help?

All this while Michelle was in Birmingham today
… and you thought I didn’t have anything to do….

SO YOU CAN SEE:
Now this picture was taken before the fixing up of the property. That’s our big arched doorway. We have the three centre windows on the top floor. Our new neighbours have the street level + the first level with those rectangular windows… we have no idea who lives directly underneath us.

filles at 4:41 pm

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April 28, 2004

movies, photos and birthdays

A perfect start to another lovely day in Glasgow. Fruit salad with yogurt and maple syrup for breakfast with Michelle in the sun at our dining table – followed by a session at the gym, while Michelle left to play the course at Gleneagles. She was very excited. For those of you not really into golf, Gleneagles is one of the “good” ones!

I’m just back from the cinema where i saw “The Other side of the Bed“. It’s a spanish comedy come musical – a little bizarre but enjoyable enough in a very light comedic way. I’m not sure that it deserves all the awards it has garnered at Spanish festivals though, but there you go, what do I know?. The actors are more like models and the singing is not so good, but it does give it a kind of realish quality about it. Sort of. Anyone else seen it? What did you think??

Tonight i’m off to my photography course. I’m speeding towards the finish of this course, and still without 4 *good* photos to hand in. I have plenty of shots to choose from but none of them are any better than ok. I never imagined black and white photography was as difficult as this. I thought that it was just as simple to take pretty pictures in b & w as it is with a digital or regular 35mm colour film. But it’s not. It’s a whole new medium. One that I’m struggling with. C’est la vie. I have a couple of nice portraits of Steph, Michelle and Moselle (Milene’s little girl) which I am trying to improve on – I’ll scan them when I’m done and you can see for yourselves.

I’ll leave you today with a picture of my favorite fountain in Paris. It’s just next to the Pompideau Centre in Beaubourg. 15 years ago I used to take a book to read by it, just as I did this year. Some things never change do they!

P.S. Bonne Fete Mme. Richard, je vous souhaite une annee merveilleuse!

filles at 4:00 pm

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April 27, 2004

Summer time

So. We’ve just had our spring. We’ve now gone back to grey. It wasn’t bad, three beautiful sunny days in a row. I just managed to get all the windows clean – so we could see those grey clouds more clearly! Well Montreal, I think we’ve reached the crossover point. Pretty much from here on – for the next 5 months, you should be getting the warmer temperatures…. enjoy it.

The days are definitely longer though. Sunrise is currently at 5.42am and sunset at 8.48pm – and that’s changing daily to reach a peak on June 18-21 of 4.31am – 10.06pm. It’s just as well because at the winter solstice time it doesn’t get light untill 8.45am and then dark again at 3.45pm…. which really makes for a short day!

If you want to check sunrise/sunset times in Montreal (or elsewhere) here is the link…

So there you have it. Enjoy your day!

filles at 8:00 am

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April 25, 2004

86% of the world still to see!

This is where I’ve visited around the world…

Although it is a total of 31 countries, sadly that only represents 14% of the world.

We are working very hard to improve on this!

create your own visited country map
or write about it on the open travel guide

filles at 6:27 pm

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April 24, 2004

Sunshine

22 degrees in Glasgow today! BEAUTIFUL!

I just had a great day. I started with a good walk through Kelvingrove park, a stop at Tribeca Cafe for a latte and croissant for breakfast before meeting a friend at the farmers markets in Partick….

The farmers market was buzzing this morning, the sun was out, and the world was out buying organic tomatos and beef olives (angus steak stuffed with pork mince – tastes much better than it sounds!) and smoked salmon quiches…

It was just beautiful!

Such a fabulous morning was followed by lunch in a new restaurant on the corner of Byers Rd, “the Baby Grand” where I had a great bloody mary and corn fritters with chorizo and mango salsa.. YUMMY!

Because it was sunny and 20 degrees – we stopped for a beer out on a terrace of the local. Sitting outside in the sun, drinking beer, in April! Sometimes I miss Montreal, but today, Glasgow was the place to be!

It was almost BBQ weather. But instead, I was cooked a roast pork dinner, complete with parsnips, baked potatos and gravy. Not only was it excellent, thank you Sandra, there’s nothing better than being cooked for!

What a wonderful day…

and tomorrow in addition to the weather forecast being another sunny 23 degrees, Michelle comes home!

Things just seem to be getting better and better!

filles at 11:59 pm

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April 23, 2004

who’s working now?

So I did it. I got myself a little sideline job!

Now don’t get too excited. Its only a part-time job. In fact a very very part-time job. So part time, I’ve had it for 2 weeks, and I’ve worked twice…

but what wonderous work!

I am currently being paid to go to see new releases at the cinema and check running times and trailers on before the main feature. Now it’s not rocket science, but hey, I get to see free movies, and get paid for it. Now how can I complain?

So tonight, my assignment was to see KILL BILL 2. Trailer check done, I sat back to enjoy the movie. It was good, not brilliant, but good – although I find that Tarantino films tend to grow on you as you think about them the week following the viewing. So I’ll let you know if my review changes to a “brilliant” next week!

IN OTHER NEWS….

I tore a tendon yesterday doing lunges! They have to be the worst exercises ever, I barely ever do them, cause I hate them so much – which probably explains why i hurt myself – and so today i’ve been limping about feeling sorry for myself.

Michelle is in Montreal on a whirlwind visit for business. Too short to do any serious damage I’m afraid, she’ll be back here Sunday morning!

Have a nice weekend!

filles at 11:04 pm

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April 22, 2004

Quote

I received this quote today amongst some other gems:

“A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour”.

… just imagine if we could all live by this!

filles at 10:34 pm

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thankyou NHS

…Now I know thats not something you will hear very often, but I have a compliment to make about the NHS.

You see, last September I received a referral from my NHS doctor here to see a Podiatrist regarding my instep. Six months later notification was sent to me giving me a date for an appointment in an additional 4 weeks That appointment was today.

A beautiful sunny day here in Glasgow, I started early with a visit to Govan Hospital (Southern General I think it’s called). Its a teaching hospital, so I was warned that my initial “discovery” appointment could take up to 4 hours, as students would be responsible for my case, but all decisions would have to be seconded by a fully qualified podiatrist. No problem. I took a book.

Turns out the student looking after me had just returned from a backpacking trip around Australia and so had plenty of things to talk to me about. My appointment went quickly – despite the fact that the qualified podiatrist was shared between 6 students. I was out of there in less than 90 minutes – with a new pair of orthotics, free, and a note that I am to send in should i require another pair, or if I have any post examination problems.

Amazing isn’t it. All done with a smile included. I walked out of there in a daze. Seven months to get the appointment (just think if it was urgent and I couldn’t walk or something!) but at the end of it all, success!

So thankyou to the staff at the Chiropody Dept. at Southern General. You did the NHS proud today!

…and I hope that will not be the last time I get to say that….

filles at 10:28 pm

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April 21, 2004

Glaswegian

So you thought you understood English? How about Glaswegian english????
download this

And for those of you that have ever thought you were olympic sporting material – have a go at the Ned Olympics. My favorite is Bolt – where you have to outrun the police to your getaway car, whilst jumping over drunken wino’s along the way….

We were introduced to this Scottish TV phenomenon by our friends at The Rug Rooms (29 Otago St, Glasgow – 0141 337 2845) – Thanks Eleanor & William for our lesson in Scottish popular culture. What a way to spend Good Friday!!

filles at 3:06 pm

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April 20, 2004

Rosier cheeks!

Well. Things are looking up. We think we have discovered an error in the template which should correct some of the problem. We haven’t worked out what we can do about the exchange rate yet, but will keep trying…

filles at 11:37 pm

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A Bit More than a Hiccup!

Michelle received her annual increase today. However, according to the template that is used to calculate her salary, we have been advised that instead of getting a small increase, we owe Thales money, and her monthly net salary will be reduced significantly – due to the poor Canadian dollar! Now personally, I found it very difficult to relate our cost of living with the value of the Cdn dollar.

It makes me want to scream.

It couldn’t have been worse timing – just as we are preparing for our influx of visitors during the summer, and worse, it’s come at the end of a tough month where Michelle has been working 7 days a week, traveling around the globe for her job – what do you think the chances are of Michelle continuing on this hell bent level of input? yep, very very slim….

So….

Tonight the only things rosy over here are my cheeks flushed with frustration!

I’ll let you know how we get on….

filles at 8:33 pm

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April 19, 2004

Fabrezan

We’re home. Michelle arrived yesterday, in the morning, from Orlando, and me in the evening from France. Both successful trips, both of us exhausted! I spent the week with my 5 year old brother Lucas, my dad and his wife, Suzie.

My biggest revelation was that I’m not very good with children. I tend to regress and act about 5 years old myself when I’m around them. Lucas and I had two really good days, the first and the last! the rest was a series of good “moments” spread out through the week.

The circus was in town, so we went as a family. Dad bought front row tickets, we were right up there, right up close! Close enough to be hit with tigers piss when he not so discreetly decided to relieve himself!

It’s the first time I’ve ever been to such a circus. It was magical. That was UNTIL I started feeling guilty for enjoying it. The poor animals, I kept hearing in my head, what a life for such wild and beautiful creatures. It was tough to sit back then and enjoy it. The mind can rationalise so many things, but I was struggling with this. In the end, I came up with this: The atmosphere was great, the kids were having a ball, the acrobats, clowns and entertainers were all thoroughly enjoyable. As our first real family outing, it was worth it!

We had several dinner parties to go to with various friends, all very enjoyable, a few new restaurants to try, again, very enjoyable – but the highlight of the week was the Music Festival/Competition being held in Fabrezan village church. Lucas was entered into a percussion group with some other children from the village between the ages of 4 and about 8… he was playing the tambourine. It lasted a whole 3 minutes, but it was brilliant! The group received a “Tres Bien” and so were asked to come back the following night to play in the finals! which they did… to the delight of the crowds!

It was a nice visit. Away from technology – no internet, no TV – only books, and family. And of course, in France. What more could I ask for?

filles at 5:34 pm

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Photos

Some family mug shots from my week in Fabrezan, France!


Dad & I


Suzie & Lucas


Lucas

filles at 5:04 pm

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