Thursday, March 29, 2007

Drum role please...

Well after getting back and having my appetite whet for the second time, I actively pursued the possibility of working in Spain, and guess what!?
I got a job!

I'm now a teacher and MC in Spain! So I'm sure I'll see some of you again.

I cant tell you how excited I am to get started and move away from the smokey hole that is London, to the clean fresh air of Spain. You do realize of course that Tarte Manzana (apple pie) will now start appearing on the menu, lol ;)

Well I'm due to fly out next week and run my own programs in May onwards - so until then my friends be safe and I look forward to meeting not only yourselves but discovering more interesting people from all sides of the water, and putting my abilities to the test to entertain and amuse you all.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Back in Sunny England

Just thought I'd add a quick post, just so you know that I'm still alive as well! Well, that's sort of a half truth, cos I've actually lost my voice, and am suffering from my bi-annual chest infection - (i know, i know Mum, i must look after myself better!)....

Anyway, needless to say, our week in Spain was again a wonderful experience - the previous few posts may have been written by Dade, but they echo my thoughts on the week as well and I'm sure you will all see from our photos what a great time we had. For me it was a very different experience to my first Vaughantown trip to Gredos in December - for a start Greg got me performing in not just one, but 4 different roles! including a follow up to my December debut as Woody Allen's suicidal potential date by giving a repeat performance (but don't be jealous Andy, I turned this guy down as well!). We met a great bunch of people, a more varied lot I'd say this time, on both the Anglos and Spaniard side, but we again made contacts I am sure we will be in touch with again in the near future - Thank you all for sharing this week with us.

We made it back to England, to discover it is actually warmer here than it was in Spain - gutted! And the world here had somehow managed to continue ticking without us. Now its back to the daily grind, though my reintroduction has been delayed somewhat by my lack of voice and chesty cough! Dade's back to work today, and I'll be back into it all tomorrow as well...

I guess we have to earn money for our next adventure somehow....

Monday, March 26, 2007

Back on the road again

We got the coach to Burgos, after some time waiting and people watching; always good fun.

The trip was long and we were accompanied by snow every step of the way although each time it seemed to be getting deeper, from a frost covered floor to about a foot in Burgos!

However, what a place not sleepy at all, bustling with life and history.
I imagine at Christmas it would be quite beautiful as it has a Christmassy feel to it.

We spent alot of time walking talking and sight seeing, there really is a lot to do in Burgos. However when it came to eating kebabs won, they appear to be as typical a Spanish dish as they are everywhere.

We travelled back to Valladolid via train spent our final evening, seeing what we may have missed, got caught up in some mass protest and finished the night in a typical English way – beer and kebab!

Early start next morning for the coach to the airport, which almost seemed like they had built more of it in the week as the departures lounge seemed bigger, when asked at the airport if I had anything to declare – “sure, I will return”

If I had to say which was 'better' I couldn’t each had its own merits.
Gredos had no village near, but nice surroundings and facilities. Carrion had the village but no facilities really, but made up for this in history and superb surroundings.

The people can not be compared, I went last time with an open heart and mind and connected in ways I didn’t think possible in one week. This time even though I tried to do the same you can’t help having expectations and comparisons.

I think both venues are beautiful and the program works because of what the program does not where its based, sure it’s nice to have the facilities and surroundings, but that doesn’t help with the purpose of the week.

Once I returned I sent off for the information to become a teacher on the program, as I believe in what it achieves and how it achieves it, so hopefully my Spanish friends we will indeed meet again and I shall continue to make the world a smaller place as I explore it further.

For those of you who werent on our journey here are some behind the scenes snapshots
Spain - Valladolid & Burgos

Day 6

The last day seems to come so fast and suddenly you saying your goodbyes to everyone, trying to hold back any tears – I must say that even though I got on well with everyone I didn’t feel the same connections I had on the previous experience, that said I was still sad none the less to see them leave.

We all gathered together in the court yard, for a group photo to remember our time together.

Then slowly one by one they drifted off back to their lives and families until only Carrie and I were left, at which point we picked up our bags and headed off for the final few days of our ‘vacation’ .

Here are just some of the highlights for you to enjoy

Spain - Vaughan Town Mar 07

Day 5

Carrie and I had a long discussion over what my options were and what I wanted to do, she agreed that it was up to me to pursue the possibility, so I did; I await the outcome.

We watched the Spaniards today as they brushed up their grammar and presenting skills as they needed to do a presentation to the group about any topic they saw fit.

It was great to see the confidence shine in them and too see just how far the had come since day 1, some Spaniards didn’t believe this to be the case for themselves, but could see it in the others. Each person (Anglos & Spaniards) had taken on a great journey and I’m please I could accompany them and glad they were there with me.

Dinner time – my last chance to get apple pie! – I begged and pleaded in Spanish with the waiteress but alas no pie; just a final flan, I stomped my feet like a big kid! When I told her I didn’t like it she replied (in Spanish) “I don’t like ketchup!!” I think she thought I was American! We all just laughed.

Later that evening we had a party – and I learnt that yet again I couldn’t dance, I really should learn! So I took the opportunity to snap away at the dancers and my alcohol inebriated friends, which was funny, Phil can really move!

Day 4

Mid week seems odd as you start to feel drained and forget who you spoke to about what, so I brought out my conversation cards, these were something I made 5 years back for some other work I did for team building exercises – the questions are very random and cover most every topic you can imagine.
The Spaniards enjoyed these on the 1 to 1’s as it was quite diverse and engaging for them.

A few telephone sessions this time in a 1 to 1 situation with a scenario; renting a property. Generally the calls last around 20 minutes, then you discuss what took place and any issues you were aware of.

A walk into the village and around the grounds again but not for too long as it was getting quite cold out.

I also noticed that Spaniards have taken several words and over use them – “in this moment” rather than right now, or “for example” they have examples for most everything, to try to make it clear what they are saying, rather just saying it, and “more or less” and “impossible” of course most everything is possible if you simply try. My all time favourite is the adaption of “Okee Dokee” into the language, it just cracks me up.

All was going well until... was announced there was the opportunity for work as a teacher; I felt my body tingle as on the last program this was what I hoped for, now was a possibility, I needed time to think.

At dinner I asked nicely for apple pie, told "tomorrow" – knowing full well it wouldn’t be! Strangely again the topic was swearing and the emphasis on the words, why is it with any language that’s the first thing you want to learn!?

That night we did the 'Quemada' ritual which involves reading an incantation (all in good fun, nothing esoteric) and burning a large vat of alcohol which ingredients are placed into, the alcohol was not a strong as last time but still very enjoyable.

Day 3

Started too early for me, not only that but it had been snowing!

Breakfast was an easy conversation to break you into the first session, then more 1 to 1’s and another conference call.
We went for a walk around the village, a nice quaint place with little life but nice surroundings, a chance for a few photo opportunities.

We spent the afternoon preparing for the main show that night. I was surprised to see from 45 minutes of nothingness, everything coming together in the last 15 minutes - a whole scenario was formulated. The scene had been set – A MURDER MYSTERY!

We parted for lunch and siesta and upon our return the Spaniards had thrown themselves into their respective roles and surprised us with characters and alibis!!
We then put the pieces of the puzzle together to produce (in my opinion) the best performance of the week.

I played one of the organisers Greg and did my best to imitate his accent and mannerisms, he was the victim (so I was dead for a lot of the performance; but when I was alive boy did you know it). We had 3 Spaniards who each plotted to kill Greg in various different ways and two Anglo police one a bumbling copper the other smarter, and a narrator to set the scene and give up to the minute reports. I must say it was quite a performance and lasted around 25 minutes in the end, with ad libs – and my dead corpse chuckling away as I listened to all that was happening around me.

Greg (the real one) was in tears of laughter at the end – as they all tried to work out the motive as to why anyone would want to harm him, my corpse arose once more to criticise the whole performance at which point the whole cast ‘killed’ me (as Greg).

We broke apart for dinner and everyone was busy chatting, the wine was flowing and for the first time English swear words were brought up!? Of all the things to want to learn, sure we all do it but I felt kinda strange ‘teaching’ the meaning of swear words.
We chatted about them for some time and then changed topics.

The pudding arrived... ...another BLOODY FLAN! There I swore!

I decided there and then to make it my goal to get an apple pie (tarte manzana) by the end of the week.

Day 2

More 1 to 1’s with random strangers explaining everything from grammar, idioms to chit chat. Now don’t get me wrong I learnt alot from the Spaniards too, but the point was they learn from Anglos.

The 1 to 1’s are kinda strange in so much as you have 1 hour to talk about anything and really you have to be able to get on as well as communicate, because one hour sure can drag if you don’t, luckily I got on well with most if not all (at least I think I did).

In the afternoon we had a conference call, this involves three Spaniards and one Anglo playing out a scenario over the phone (so as not to take cues from body language etc, apparently the Spaniards hate the phone!?) anyway this always ends up in some sort of hysteria; even though they are supposed to be serious.
I had to decide who had the best boss and the Spaniards took it in turns to convince me their boss was best (the king of the potatoes nearly won but it fell apart near the end for him), then onto lunch, this is always a hive of activity with chat and food and one magical ingredient: WINE!!!

Once that starts flowing there’s no telling what may happen. Slightly disappointed yet another flan pudding :(

By the evening we were preparing for stage shows and gala performances, there was a performance from The Odd Couple with Spaniards and Anglos alike taking on roles to amuse the audience (those of us not performing) then yours truly took the audience on a journey through their minds eye, as I performed a mass meditation with a smattering of NLP and hypnotherapy techniques to get them to believe in themselves and each other, finally another sketch with some improvisation work from three Spaniards teaching us how to pick up girls.

All in all was a great finish to what was a long day.

Day 1

Arrived to Richard giving his Oscar winning performance of stories that inspire and excite both the Anglos (that’s us) and the Spaniards (that’s them, you with me so far?).

After the chat we were given lunch and a welcome sight it was. We all sat at tables of four, each person sat checking out all those around; the room was full of around 30 strangers and a mix of English and broken English was being spoken.

After lunch was a 1 to 1 with Jose Maria – we walked outside to the town and chatted about this and that – he smiled intently, at which point I said he had no idea what I was talking about and he agreed saying I speak too fast! (its true, but the purpose is to be real English not a watered down version, so a slowed a little and made my choices of words more clear).

After the 1 to 1, I had another meeting where we explored the grounds of the Monastery, it is extremely old (well parts are, it appears to be slowly being rebuilt) a real nice place with a very peaceful atmosphere. Whilst sitting there drinking our cafe con leche (coffee) I start to hear the haunting chanting of monks!!!
The hotel plays the sound of the monks through a speaker system throughout the hotel; at first quite unnerving!

The main thing I love about these programs is you meet all sorts of wonderful people, from all walks of life; professionals, managers, chemists, photographers, authors and media professionals from all different countries; we had Kiwis, Americans, Aussies, Brits, Dutch & Spaniards.

With a mix such as this you always have something to talk about, as for myself, I decided this time I didn’t want to go as a ‘magician’ so left that side of me behind, and I applied other skills and abilities; to be revealed later.

Below are a few pictures from the last Vaughan Town we done in Gredos and the friends we made there. (including where I met Carrie)

Spain - Vaughan Town Dec 06

On the road to Santiago

A free week in sunny Spain, really!?!? Well sort of, Spain wasn’t that sunny in fact it snowed! and the week was a working vacation.
This was my second time on the Vaughan Town experience and it was as much fun as I remembered. Last time I went in December 2006 to Gredos (Avila) this time we opted for the new venue on the road to Santiago (Paulo Coelho wrote about this in The Alchemist; my favourite book) so it was nice to put a place to what I had read so much about.
If you don’t know the road to Santiago is a pilgrimage from the east to west of Spain, stopping at churches and cathedrals along the way – the route would generally take around two weeks to complete. Also refered to as Camino de Santiago

Back to the trip – we left cold wet London with smiles on our faces and flew into a small airport called Valladolid (it could have been anywhere?!) the airport was tiny and the customs was one guy with a stamp machine – I didn’t get one but Carrie did!

We then travelled to the town and found a ‘pension’ which means hostel. A nice enough place with all you really need for one night, a bed! We briefly explored our surroundings to find some very unusual statues and buildings.

Anyway next morning we caught the train bright and early (too early if you ask me) we got to the station asked for directions and with no urgency the information lady waved to the platform opposite, so we ambled out to watch as our train left without us!
We then waited a further 2 hours before we were able to travel down to Palencia then onto Carrión de los Condes via coach, we arrived mid afternoon to a sleeping village (siesta time) and trekked our way to the monastery and so our week began...

Friday, March 16, 2007

Is it meant to hurt this much?

That is what I am pondering on this lovely sunny morning....

My main reason is because both Dade and I are feeling extremely stiff and achy today (admittedly Dade, far more than me!) because we went to a Muay Thai class on Tuesday night, and boy did they give us a good work out!

For those of you who don't know what Muay Thai is, it's Thai Boxing, or can also be known as The Art of the Eight Limbs, as the hands, shins, elbows and knees are all used as points of contact, as opposed to the tradition two (fists) in western boxing, or four (fists and feet) in most other martial arts.
Our participation was initiated by a discussion with Helen, a friend from work, over a work lunch (and free wine) the week before when she mentioned her and her husband were going to give it a go. So we set up a double date for Tuesday night and off we went. Unfortunately her husband was ill, so it was just Helen, Dade and I who rocked up to inflict pain voluntarily on ourselves!! It was great fun though, and Helen and I pretty much got 2-1 tuition (I'm not sure they are used to having girls turn up!) and Dade was able to have a good sparring session one on one with the other instructor. A little too good a session it seems now!
Afterwards we were both thinking, hey that was a great workout and we are going to ache a bit, since we haven't really done anything quite that energetic for a while, but waking up this morning....ouch! It took Dade twice as long to actually get dressed! (I'm off today so haven't had to move much yet!)... so I'm wondering IS IT REALLY MEANT TO HURT THIS MUCH?

And while I was lying in bed, trying not to move the muscles which hurt, and reading my book, thus avoiding getting up and having to move those muscles which hurt, I came across this idea;

We all have a personal calling, or a dream, but most people don't have the courage to confront it, as so many things in this society tell us it's impossible to achieve. This, coupled with feelings of guilt and fear and prejudice start to build up thus swamping our dream, so we actually have to actively work hard to remember that it’s still there. Those of us that do confront our dream and hold onto it tight, let another obstacle get in way of achieving it: Love.

"We know want we want to do, but are afraid of hurting those around us by abandoning everything in order to pursue their dream. We do not realise that love is a further impetus, not something will prevent us from going forward, and that those who genuinely wish us well want us to be happy and are prepared to accompany us on that journey"

Those that do accept that love can be the stimulus, then let another obstacle stand in the way, fear of hurt and defeat. They don’t want to fail, nor get hurt along the way…

(I'm reading the Alchemist by Paulo Coelho at the moment...)

So now I'm wondering, if everyone is so willing to forfeit joy and their dreams to avoid pain, are we just MAD to have willing inflicted pain upon ourselves by going to Muay Thai?

Although since we hurt this much now anyway, we might as well strive for our dreams, cos I’m sure nothing along that path could hurt this much!!!!!

Did I mention IT HURTS!

Random thoughts for a Thursday morning………. Right, now I’m off to get my hair cut, before some retail therapy and a hectic night at work!

The Wild Life

This week I have been mostly chilling and exploring the surrounding areas. Here is a few pictures I took of so wildlife and areas I found, using my new camera - Its a cool piece of kit.

Cool Slideshows

I also went to London Zoo coz I was bored all I can say is don't go until Summer, as you pay the same now for half a zoo as you would for Summer when all the animals are back! felt quite cheated to be honest - not as exciting as I would have hoped.
Anyway below are a few images of the animals I saw - I know it aint much but there wern't much there, did I mention that!?

Cool Slideshows

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Mash Ups

You know those days when you have little to do, well this is one of those, so I sat here surfing and came across some wonderfully well done edits of movie mash ups - not lets be honest whats better than one good movie? Two put togther!!
Below is a few of the amazing mash ups I found done by AMDS, and boy are they cool.







Monday, March 12, 2007

On your marks....

Hi folks,
whilst surfing came across this game, great way to waste time ;)

anyway thought you may wanna play - lets see who can get the highest score!
How far can you go? My personal score is 1302.0m
What's yours?

1st click to get ready, 2nd click to hit the cyclist!

Pacman anyone?

Also found an old school classic, just for fun ;)

enjoy !

Friday, March 09, 2007

Blue Man Group

The Blue Man Group, no its not counselling where sad lonely men go to share their problems its a west end show with three very talented performers. Last night Carrie surprised me with a meal a show, and wow what a show. If you've never seen the Blue Man Group your missing out. It was wonderful a show without a single word, but some of the best visual effects, even bring a cartoon to life.

They have some very good ways of putting messages over, and have done extremely well for themselves. If you ever get the chance check them out, if not check out the following clip to give you a taste of what your missing.

told ya they were good huh!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Dance baby dance

I found this and thought it was worth sharing, made me smile anyway. I was forced to sit through the whole movie by Adams mom (Helen) at Christmas, so I'm not complaining ;)

Nice edits though I thought. enjoy

I've been thinking recently that life & times ticking by and it feels I don't have much to show for it.
It's weird but when you move so often and you can pack everything up in 30 minutes into a few boxes its quite surprising what little you have for all your hard work and effort.
So I thought I should have some aims for my life and these are a few for me to focus on for now, as I achieve them I will happily share the story with you.
To write a book
To travel more of the
To live instead of feeling like im just
To s
To meet more people and make more
To start my own business and see it
To make a difference in the
To learn to
To be more
To be financially
To be a better
To learn a language fluently
To get into the Guinness Book of Records

Thought for the day:
if you cant solve a problem its because your playing by the rules

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

But what colour....

Well, its been ages since we’ve written much cos our broadband has been down – pretty much a whole month now – that’s caused a bit of unrest within the house as their was nothing wrong with the broadband we had in the first place, but hey ho, some just don’t seem to live and learn...

So, what have we been up to in the last week?

We went to have a look at a rock climbing wall close to my work that had been recommended by a few people... and we were really surprised by the size of it! IT’S HUGE! And it was packed. We aren’t allowed to climb on it without either doing a beginners course, or a refresher course to prove you know all the safety bits. Since we have both done a fair bit of climbing in the past the refresher course should be enough for both of us, but before they will let you book on it you have to prove that you can at least put on a harness and tie on correctly – they offered for us to do that bit there and then, but since Dade had met me in the bar at work first we didn’t really think either of us were quite up to the task!! :-p We will definitely be heading back at a later date.... once we have both remembered how to tie the correct knots!

Friday night I went to The Fratellis concert at the Carling Academy in Brixton. It was a birthday present from Ellen, so it was good to catch up with her and the concert was great! I’d forgotten how good live music makes you feel... who else is playing soon :-} ?

We haven’t been up to a lot else worth mentioning really as we have both been working weekends recently – Dade cos of his shift pattern, and me cos I’ve been waitressing at a local restaurant.

Oh and we both dyed our hair last night... but you will have to wait till we manage to get some pictures online to see which colours! In the mean time though, why don’t you try and guess....
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