Major Adventures

Just a bloke's records of how his life unfolds.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

The French Are Crazy - I had forgotten how CrAzY!

A week in France: the perfect get away from London. Travel, dog in hand and hop in one Renault Twingo, direction - Central France. Of course, not having functioning windscreen wipers can dampen the spirits of adventures, however, the prospect of having Renault in France fixing them and replacing the broken window and mirror for a fraction of the cost is a driving force.

French Situation One:
Arriving safely from London some 10 hours after leaving Streatham at 7am, I took El Gringo - the guacamole green Twingo to Pithiviers Renault, where I bought it. Leaving the keys and explaining things that needed to be done, at one desk. Then we were instructed to go to another desk to check in the car, we were then directed to line up at the next desk (part of the same bench, but different person) to discuss costing and parts. Then, to be sent to the 'parts' man to buy the parts need for the car. From arrival to departure, just to check in the car and do the work for these French people, 35 minutes.

French Situation Two: The Police
Having just picked my car up, some 1 day, 7 hours later, I was driving to Orléans to visit the gorgeous Sarah, please note I am now 1 day late to Sarah's. A big police van pulls out in front of me, with just enough space and timing, anyone else did it you would tutt and flash your lights at them. There was a tractor lawn mowing heavy machinery clipping the sides of the roads as they do in the country, but on double white lines (i.e. no overtaking), the Police? (Consequently me too) Overtake the machinery on the double lines at a speed 15kms above the limit. I did manage to get into Orléans faster thanks to their speeding and my tailing them. CRAZY.

French Situation Three: Shop Assistants
There is this magic invisible wall between you and any shop assistant in France. I think, in fact, it is a one way mirror, you can see them, but they only see their own reflection. This ignoring of customers until they are ready; have finished the conversation with their colleagues or their designated 'break time' is finished is so typically French. At Renault, the lady on reception was opening talking about us to her colleague as if we were not even there, and then chose to acknowledge us.
At the supermarket last night, the check out lady said Hi to us as we were processing the groceries and bagging them up, and then started a conversation with the customer behind, pointed to the amount on the till, still in conversation. Sarah and I assumed she was finished with us and we didn’t want to disturb her conversation (how rude to do so) so we walked out. As we were leaving she said in a very brash, annoyed tone, Bonsoir Monsieur-dame. How peculiar are the French?

French Situation Four: Government Road Workers.
Driving through Pithiviers on the way to Orléans, I was stopped at a zone of tree lopping on the main road from Pithiviers. Finally I was allowed to pass only to discover 4 men eating their afternoon tea and sipping coffee from their thermos. No work being done, no shame in having the traffic being controlled over their tea break.
This country is CRAZY.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Edinburgh - Strange Tourist

Saturday, May 19, 2007

McBotanic Gardens - Edinburgh

Friday, May 18, 2007

McInterview ... Friday in Scotland

4 am and the alarm awakens the slightly over tired Jordi from his slumber after retiring at 1h30am. Trying to wake up and make sense of the world, I ventured shower bound, towelled off, dressed and then wearily drove to Gatwick to drop my car at the car park at 5h13 to then check in for a 6h30 flight to Edinburgh ... Easyjet £90 return for the weekend ... not a bad deal.Sitting on the plane waiting for take off, this more than camp trolly dolly, was doing the safety demonstration in the most entertaining way I have ever witnessed. I tried to listen carefully to hear whether or not there was any disco music playing but alas, no not even a hint of the sound of music or Paula Abdoul. He danced and pranced his way through the safety procedures.
Arriving at 7h40 in Edinburgh, I ventured to the car hire desk where I had booked a car for the weekend; £71.00 including taxes, only to be told that I didn't have a reservation, the salesperson suggesting that I may not have finalised the booking section of the web page. BUGGER ... what was worse was that there were no other cars to hire, all had been rented. I went from counter to counter to finally book a car for £151.00 only over double the price! Grrrrr.
A beautiful drive down the ever so picturesque A7 takes you from Edinburgh down and through the town of Hawick where I was interviewing for the post of Principal Teacher of Home Economics in a lovely school with some great staff ... I did not succeed in attaining this post as there was an internal applicant for the post, but it was a great motivating fact to see Scotland. The school is set in wonderful building from the 18th century with classrooms so generous in size and light ... if only schools could be built in this fashion this day and age.
A lovely drive back to Edinburgh to pick up Ezio who had decided that spending his birthday in Edinburgh was an interesting concept. Dinner was sensational in a great steak and seafood restaurant, Mussel and Steak, in the Grassmarkets area, where we feasted on fresh Scottish seafood platters, drank poor Scottish lager and feasted on a trio of desserts which had 4 selections... go figure. We were served by a Brisbane gal who took a real shine to serving us. Friday's opinion of Scotland ... what a place! Edinburgh is sensationally beautiful even though the winds were 10000kms an hour and rain pelted down like sprayed bullets.
When in Edinburgh Jordi chooses to stay at The Hariott Park B&B with B&B host: Wilma. (don't tell Harry though) £70 per night on bus numbers 21,23 and 14 from central Edinburgh and free parking opposite B&B.
Post script: Sorry to Steph for not catching up for a drink ... next time, I promise!

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Sunday, May 13, 2007

Film: Goodbye Bafana

What a hugely moving film with superb acting, albeit annoying South African accents, but you can't win them all. Joseph Fiennes plays a prison guard, Mr. Gregory, who was entrusted with Mandela throughout his near on 30 years of incarceration. He was first appointed because he could speak the same language as Mandela.
Its a very powerful movie as the story is unfolded by Mr. Gregory and his accounts with Mandela and the evolution leading to the new South Africa.

My rating? * * * * *

Thanks to Wikipaedia...

Goodbye Bafana is a 2007 drama film about the relationship between Nelson Mandela and James Gregory, one of his prison guards, based on the allegedly fraudulent book Goodbye Bafana: Nelson Mandela, My Prisoner, My Friend by James Gregory.

James Gregory is accused of lying and violating Mandela's privacy. Mandela's longtime friend, the late Anthony Sampson, claimed in his book that Gregory rarely spoke to Mandela, but censored the letters sent to him and used this information to fabricate a close relationship with Mandela. He also claims that other warders suspected Gregory of spying for the government and that Mandela considered suing Gregory.

Lisa's New Blond Boyfriend

They said that it would never happen, Lisa, the cat loving travelling researching teacher ... here is proof that Harry has made his way into Lisa's heart.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

When the Twingos met nose to nose

Off on a routine surf around PC World in Croydon when I parked opposite El Gringo's cousin. She is here in England and registered here, so apparently it can be done and will have to be done if I decide to stay in England for the long term and not buy another car over here.
What's weird about this? Twingos are very popular on the continent, particularly in France, however, until this year, they have not been sold in the UK as they are right hand drive only. As of September this year, they are releasing the new model Twingo.

The Hound of the Baskervilles

Can you get any more value for a tenner here in the wonderland they call London? Lisa arrived this morning in London as one of her many stops on her round the world ticket
We decided that a visit to London's West End would be a great little excursion after her mammoth 4 hour nanna nap to recover from her non sleep flight from the US.
A good old trusting favourite, came up trumps offering a nights worth of entertainment for a tenner (£10). What a show, what acting, what a comedy. These 3 guys were fantastic in the delivery of this Sherlock Holmes classic. If you are in London, then try to get along to see this night of sheer entertainment.

An ancient family curse, a desolate moor, a spectral hound and a deranged killer on the loose. The Hound of the Baskervilles is the most celebrated Sherlock Holmes story of all, a masterpiece of mystery and suspense.

And it's scary... Really, really scary. Tremble at the hellish howl of the Hell Hound, wonder at the twisty-turny plot and be amazed by Holmes' finest powers of deduction in this reinvigorating, terrifying and foggy new adaptation.

Over the past ten years, the award-winning company Peepolykus has received accolades from all over the world for its hilarious collision of verbal surprise and visual ingenuity. The actors take to the moors for this fast paced and thrilling production, in the hope that they will make it out of Grimpen Mire alive.

Cast includes: Javier Marzan, John Nicholson and Jason Thorpe.

  • Written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Directed by Orla O'Loughlin

Critics' choice

Packed with physical inventiveness...The gags...Come thick and fast.


Theatre doesn't come much sillier than...This wonderfully barking spoof.

Daily Telegraph

Britain's barmiest comedy trio...If they weren't so funny they'd be locked up.

Time Out

Friday, May 11, 2007

Harry's Settled In London

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Work in Progress (aka Recherche du Travail)

As most of you would be aware my introduction to my current school in SE London was far from complimentary by the inmates of the establishment, nor by fellow staff either. As a consequence, I applied for several jobs before leaving for Australia (seems such a distant memory now). There were 3 positions of responsibilities that I have applied for and low and behold, I have been successful in gaining an interview with all 3 schools:

These are in the order of being selected for interview.

School 1: Scotland
This is a Principal Teaching position in Food Technology / Catering / Home Economics. Career wise it is perfect for promotions and working my way back up to a position I was in, in Australia. It comes with a nice £10,000 pay rise from what I am currently earning in London. Being in a smaller country town means that life / rent should be cheaper that in London too, theoretically, I could buy a place to live.

School 2: Reigate, Surrey.
This is a House Master position working in a boarding college for kids who are mainly sponsored. Its an improving school and offers kids a good background for future endeavours and careers. As its a live in position, it would lend itself quite nicely to saving some money to buy that apartment in Paris I spied on the net yesterday. It has a nice sense of community about the school, I think there would be a handful of students who would provide themselves to being a handful, but if I can survive Kennels I can survive anything, right? Pay rise? A little but no rent for accommodation equates to close to £6,000 gained a year. A big deciding factor will be IF I can have Harry in the accommodation with me. Of course, no Harry = not continuing with application.

**update 23h26 - I have been shortlisted - 3 candidates for the role**

School 3: Blackheath, London.
This is a Subject co-ordinator position, for Food and Nutrition. The school, in fact, an Academy is located in the very nice, posh suburb of Blackheath, I believe however, that the clientele won't be the residents of the suburb but will be collected from the surrounding areas which have less than desirable pupils as so many inner London schools to have. However, its a brand new school, with a fairly seemingly dynamic leadership. It's a Catholic school and is being built and run around the Catholic faith and belief structure. This is a pay rise of about £5,000.

The process requires interviews, all next week; Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, I will be kept quite busy. I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Life is a Cabaret

After years of singing this song I thought it wise to finally see the show, especially after finding tickets at a rediculous price of £17,50. So the Italian Stalion and I headed off to the rather relaxing 3pm show of Cabaret. It was a good production, I found parts a little tacky in places, which for me is a little suprising seeing I like tacky. Some parts very funny, the story line, as per any Nazi/war, totally depressing. A good, strong cast delivered a quality performance.
An after show Italian dinner was rather a nice end to the evening, a good walk on a mild evening along the thames, south bank then a reasonably early entrance to hug the Harrymeister.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Birthday Thank You

Thanks to everyone for their warm wishes, phone calls, cards, presents and emails. I had a very busy day at work, starting at 645am through to about 4pm. A lovely dinner and evening was enjoyed with fine company and fine fine finger licking good food. Back to reality today, marking coursework.
Have a great May Day... public holiday for the European Union, except Britain, how typical.
Ciao ciao.