December 30, 2005

sales, sales and more sales

We hit Selfridges yesterday morning. Three adults + 2 kids under 4. You’d think it would be a nightmare in the boxing day sales, but it seems if you get there early enough, anything is possible!

We played ‘hide & seek’ under racks of clothes, the beautiful leather couches became trampolines and the rows upon rows of pressed mens shirts were fun to run in and out of. The only little upset came when the alarm system was activated after a curious 3 year old decided that the leather coats needed to be liberated from the wires stringing them together. It was quite a success.

2 hours later, we were packed up back in the new Toyota Verso and heading off for Dim Sum in St Johns Wood, while Gabriel continued shopping sans enfants with the elusive goal of a Paul Smith suit on sale….

The whole experience was so good, we decided to do it again this morning. Michelle arrived from Montreal at 7.30am in Heathrow, she took the Paddington express and Milene & I were there to meet her. We high-tailed it back to Selfridges, prepared ourselves with a coffee and croissant in the food hall, then hit the sales, jeans, handbags, shoes, underwear. Another successfull morning…

Will we chance it again tomorrow?

filles at 3:45 pm

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December 29, 2005

London: day of art

Yesterday I spent the day visiting photography exhibitions in London in-between fighting my way through the crowds trying to find a ‘boxing day bargain’. I don’t know how successful they were but there were plenty of people swinging yellow Selfridges bags and white paper designer bags whilst bustling about all in a hurry. Me, I wandered about and found my way to the Millenium Bridge and admired the view of my favorite gallery in London. The Tate Modern. My plan was to see the exhibition of the Canadian photographer Jeff Wall and maybe catch a quick look at the Unilever series – Rachel Witeread whilst I was there. The Jeff Wall show was brilliant. It far exceeded my expectations and I was well pleased that I managed to get there before it ended…

Next I headed back into town to see the 60 finalists of the Schweppes Photographic Portrait Prize 2005 at the National Portrait Gallery. Out of over 5000 images there were four prizes awarded with 1st prize going to an aussie, Shara Henderson. There were some brilliant entries and I have to say it made me rethink my attitude to colour – it was a serious colour photo day. The few images I saw in black and white from both the Schweppes exhibition and the Jeff Wall exhibition were not particularly impressive alongside the colour counterparts. Perhaps it was my mood, perhaps it was the images themselves but there you go…. colour looked exceptionally good.

There was one exception however, also at the National Portrait Gallery there was an exhibition of Cornel Lucas, mainly of images he took whilst working as a portraitist for the British film studios in the 40s and 50s. Images of the likes of Lauren Bacall, Dirk Bogarde and Brigitte Bardot – all iconic in status, and all fantastic in black and white.

It was a great day. I thoroughly enjoyed myself, it was cold out but toasty in the galleries and I was allowed to wander about in a world of my own, all on my own.

filles at 3:20 pm

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December 28, 2005

Happy Birthday Lucas

You’re probably skiing right now, but since dad’s phone is turned off I can’t contact you to sing you happy birthday (which is probably a good thing given my singing voice is not particularly good!).

I hope you’re having all the fun a big 7 year old should be having on their seventh birthday. Lots of cake and party food. I love you. Your big sister, Elissa….

filles at 11:36 pm

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It’s cold in Glasgow

I hope you all had a lovely christmas. We had a great day here in London. The days have all run into one, christmas eve we went to Gabriels mums house for an early dinner and some pressies before the childrens service at the local church. That was brilliant. Full of screaming kids and off-tune adults singing their hearts out or humming as the case may be if you didn’t know the words (which judging by the output was most of us…) Christmas day was a big day for presents from Santa. With two children aged 2 and 3 ‘le pere noel’ is still a big deal around here. It was great fun, paper everywhere, plastic toys everywhere, boxes turned over everywhere and not an instruction sheet to be found anywhere….

Milene has been cooking for days. We had roast goose, with it’s legs having been confit’ed the day before, roast veges, jerusalem artichoke soup and an amazing chocolate and meringue italian gateau – not in that order of course!

Boxing day was spent with some close friends of the family and their kids. There were 8 adults and 5 children tearing about the house, playing football inside, fighting over balloons, chocolate cake, cars and music, and that was just the kids. The adults were sprinting through bottles of good red, courtesy of Gabriel and the most delicious shoulder of pork that had been cooking since 10pm the night before…. slow cooked with a brief spurt at the beginning and the end to ensure that the crackling was really crackling. It was amazing. Finished off with hand-made truffles (now that’s a story – chocolate up to my elbows) it was an amazing meal. All this started around 12.30 and by 8pm we were all ready for bed. That is, except the kids. Moselle and Jonathan must have eaten about 16 truffles between them and so were spinning about unable to sleep despite being desperately tired. I know, because Gabriel and I did the same, we all went to bed about 10pm but by 1am we were up, wide awake, reading, surfing, anything but sleeping.

So a great christmas had by all down here and from the early reports I’ve received from Michelle she also had a good time in Courcelles – plenty of snow, plenty of fun, plenty of family.

I’m off to a gallery today, I’m not sure which yet but I’ll keep you posted…

filles at 10:27 am

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December 27, 2005

happy times

still here, still eating christmas treats, still playing with kids, still having fun – i’ll try and post something this afternoon….

filles at 10:11 am

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December 22, 2005

aaahhhh

Heat. Hot water. I’m off for a shower, in my own bathroom….

filles at 11:53 am

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December 21, 2005

Parker Property we’re not happy…

This is now the 9th day out of the last 38 days we have had no heat or hot water, and I’m in a foul mood. What can we do? Our real estate agents send the plumbers (who I’m not convinced are much good), they claim they know what’s wrong (ie. “well if we changed this part last time, it has to be this one…”) and then they order it (at least so they say!). Nobody bothers to try and keep us informed. 5 days, and I’ve had to send 3 emails, and make 5 phone calls to have some idea if I have to sit in this ice-box waiting for a plumber to turn up or not. I’m desperate. The plumbers spin-off some unlikely story to the girls at the estate agents, who believe them then repeat the story to me when I call. The information made no sense, but since the girls were intimidated into believing it was ‘plumberspeak’, they didn’t clarify.

I have no idea what compensation we’re entitled to in this country but you can be sure I will working hard on finding out. This is unacceptable. What kind of service is this? No heat or hot water in winter. No offer of compensation, not even an ounce of sympathy, nobody has even shown any concern over what we’ve had to do to get by the last 5 days. Politeness, sensitivity and a bit of pro-active concern would go a long way in a situation like this.

As for how it is? I can tell you it’s very inconvenient not least uncomfortable. The house is freezing, we have two blow heaters trying to do the job (probably costing us an arm and leg in electricity charges). It takes many kettles full of hot water to wash any plates up in the sink. It takes 4 trips back and forth from the laundromat lugging plastic bags on foot to do some washing with water that isn’t freezing. It takes packing and organising trips to visit friends to use their showers. Imagine, waking up, then having to sort out your day before you’ve even washed your face, before trudging out somewhere else for your shower. Now all this is do-able for a couple of days before you freak out, but 5 DAYS. All this plus all the extra time it takes to do things. Everything takes so much longer, we have none of the convenience of the 21st century….

I know there are worse things in the world. I know there are people who are a lot worse off than us. But, as the Scottish are so fond of saying “fer f*&k sake man” we’ve been paying for an all mod-con flat in the West End of Glasgow, instead we’ve got ice-box without even the convenience of an internal bathroom!

I’m ropeable. If you have any suggestions, please don’t hesitate to write, we’re off in a couple of days and if the pipes freeze or any other such damage occurs while we’re away you can be sure I’ll be on the war-path…

filles at 12:43 pm

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December 19, 2005

Greek in Glasgow

It’s a new decision, no repeat visits to any restaurant in Glasgow (except maybe the Observatory, only ’cause it’s close, it’s good and it’s our local…). We have so many restaurants to try before we leave the city we can’t afford to do ‘repeats’!

With that in mind, and considering our apartment is like an ice-box, we’re off to Konaki tonight to sample the delights of Greece from afar. I’m going to try real hard and imagine that there is a crystal clear sea outside, with fine sand, and a couple of bars along the shorefront – not to mention some heat and sunshine. Some calamari and oven baked cod should do the trick…

filles at 6:14 pm

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December 18, 2005

chilly inside

We’re not very happy vegemites this weekend. No heat or hot water, AGAIN! Boiler problems.
No heater last night, but begged, borrowed and stole a couple for tonight….

filles at 11:24 pm

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December 16, 2005

old photos

I’ve been going through some old pictures today (the usual avoidance of whatever SHOULD be done) and it seems my mum has been doing the same….

She just sent me a handful of pics from the last christmas we spent in Aus, 2003…

Since then I’ve changed my spec’s and lost about 150 shades of skin colour so that I’m a nice vibrant blue-white colour at the moment. Soon to be remedied by a short stay in Kenya….

filles at 1:59 pm

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December 15, 2005

McLaren vs Renault

Now the car has gone KAPLUNK! She’s turned into a formula one racing car, with rev’s to rival the McLaren Mercedes team… (Sadly, only while at stoplights!)

filles at 2:04 pm

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December 13, 2005

Next?

Ever noticed when you’re running out of time, that everything seems to go wrong? Printer is playing up, I have one A3 sized print left to do and I can’t reload the ink cartridges. I’ll fiddle about and keep my fingers crossed that tomorrow the printer won’t be temperamental. Very technical approach I know….

I have a list of chores about an arm-length long, including some specials to pick up such as a capillary mat from a garden-centre (I’ve no idea where to find one of them!) for our plants, a whole host of DEET products from sheets to spray to roll-on to ward off the dreaded mosquito’s in Kenya – they always love me, an antihistamine just in case and some Advanced Acidophilus Plus for good tummy bacteria. I know there are millions of other things I was supposed to get, but I can’t seem to find my list anywhere!

The house looks like a tornado has passed through and despite all my best intentions there doesn’t seem to be much chance of me being ready with plenty of time to spare.

I’ll just get back to it then, will I?

filles at 5:03 pm

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December 12, 2005

The benefits of part-time employment

Had a boozy lovely lunch with Maddie at Stravaigin today on Gibson Street. Started with Harry Potter at the cinema, went to Borders for books and magazines, and ended with an amazing lunch and a bottle of nice Spanish red (what? it was cheaper than 3 glasses!)….

I hope Michelle isn’t ready for dinner ’till about 10pm tonight!

filles at 5:52 pm

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December 9, 2005

one small problem

You cannot imagine how pathetic the power supply companies are over here. In two years I must have spent literally hours and hours on the phone with them, sorting out stupid mistakes. That’s not just one company. That’s Scottish Gas and Scottish Power. We get both our gas and electricity from the one provider in an attempt to leverage our discounts. When we moved in, we transferred the apartment from Scottish Power (who the previous tenant used) to Scottish Gas based on nothing but cost. After 12 months we transferred back to Scottish Power because the headaches were just not worth the discount. Each transfer involves hours of telephone calls, hours of listening to crappy music and hours of frustration speaking to incompetent customer service agents.

Today I received a bill in the mail addressed to a Mr S McKechnie at our address, saying ‘Welcome to your new Scottish Power combined Gas & Electricity Account’. I called Michelle and asked if she had changed her name. Next, I called Scottish Power and after being on hold for close to 9 minutes, was greeted with “Good afternoon Ms Filles, I understand you have just moved, would you like to set up a new account?”.

And so the frustration starts again. For no apparent reason, Scottish Power, despite receiving money from us last Monday, have agreed to cancel our account and pretend someone else is living here. If it wasn’t for the fact that everything takes forever to sort out and the knowledge that eventually, regardless of when they work out their error, they’ll hunt us down to fix the problem, I probably should have just let Mr S McKechnie pay our bill until we move next year.

They should be thankful that I’ve caught the error early and they’ll get two accounts instead of one, but no, no thanks, no kindness, no fast efficient service. Just a whole load of questions and no answers…

It was a nice day. It was peaceful. It was. Thanks to Scottish Power I’m off to the pub for a bite of lunch and a pint. Michelle has a Christmas party this afternoon at the bowling lanes followed by a local Chinese dinner. Tomorrow nights Christmas do is a Wine & Cheese night on the south side – I know which one I’ve chosen to attend! Besides, telly is good on a Friday night – and I’m on Taggart tonight!

filles at 3:08 pm

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December 8, 2005

Red Road Flats

I’m working tonight, 9pm till 1am on a short feature film shot in, around and about the Red Road Flats in Glasgow, I think it’s to be called ‘Red Road’. In 1969 when they were first opened they were the tallest in Europe at 31 storeys high, but their notoriety is now not even remotely positive. I’ve been told to wear my oldest, daggiest, dirtiest clothes – and wrap up warm. This should be interesting….

I’ve found some info on the Red Road flats and housing in Glasgow in general here if you’re interested…

filles at 6:28 pm

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