Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Another walk in the park

Today the sun was shining and had I had time to kill what to do... ...Retiro park!!

So off I go, armed with water, sandwiches, poi and juggling balls (and a Spanish phrase book), I arrive at the park and loads of people seem to have had the same idea the park is busy the sun is gorgeous and my tan is coming along far quicker than my Spanish.

After an hour of walking around taking in the sites - one of which is the only statue devoted to the devil! I sit down on the green reading my book watching the world go by - after working 4 weeks straight its a nice change of pace.

Of course I quickly get bored and start practising my poi and I now have learnt to juggle three balls after about an hours practise - I drop the balls often still but I have the hang of what needs to be done and I'm getting there.


create your own slideshow

Sunday, May 27, 2007

iZombie

The other day a friend and I were talking about flashmobbing and today I found this story and thought it only right to share! Andy keep em peeled they may be in a town near you!!!

A horde of decaying zombies invaded San Francisco's downtown Apple store on Friday evening, hunting for brains, terrifying the customers, and gnawing on iMacs. It was difficult to judge the exact number of zombies that shuffled through the city's shopping district, losing limbs, blood, and unmentionable body parts along the way, but probably at least 150 converged on Union Square.

Then they decided to visit nearby businesses, including the Apple store, Nordstrom, the Disney store, and the Westfield Mall.The event was titled "SF Zombie Mob 2007," and it was organized by the gruesome-minded folks at eatbrains.com. It's akin to a flash mob, though because the participants trek around the city after gathering, the Zombie Mob was closer in concept to the Critical Mass bicycle ride, which coincidentally was happening at the same time along the same street.

In truth, it was a pretty polite affair: only passers-by who volunteered to become zombie-fied were, and no arrests took place.It may be worth noting that the Westfield Mall and Disney security tried to bar the zombies from entering, but Apple store security did not.
In fact, salespeople were jostling one another for a position where they could take the best photo of the zombies (or themselves with the zombies, or their brains being eaten by the zombies).

see the photos for yourself
http://www.mccullagh.org/theme/zombie-flash-mob-2007.html

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Freeloading

Well, this week I'm back in Gredos not because I'm in charge of another program, but because I cant afford to be in Madrid without money, so I'm freeloading and helping out Rob (also picking up more invaluable tips).

The program is going really well, and yet again many friends were made as the week progressed. I was fortunate enough to see a very good friend come totally out of himself and grow into a star! Matt was on my first program and I managed to be with him through all three of his consecutive programs, it was a pleasure to know him and share the experience - I wish you all the best in the future and really hope our paths cross again; Dark Knight!

There was karaoke on Tuesday night after the Quemada; there was a small after party (so I hear, cough cough). I'm actually trying to learn to sing so a great opportunity for me to rock, the big party was on Thursday night which wrapped up early for me at least - then the folowing morning hit with mess in one of the rooms - what do you do!?!?

The weather wasn't on our side though last week and we had to make the best of it, which I'm glad to say we did. We tried out some new ideas for sketches and activities and Rob performed some sketches which he has now retired as he likes to keep things fresh (as do i).

We had quite a few "veterans" (people who had done the program before), on this program so it was good to keep it fresh for them, but after spending SO much time with them and getting to know them personally it does make it hard when they leave.

As usual the hardest part is the goodbyes - knowing we may never see these people again; and not so hairy Rob is camping in the wilderness so who knows what will become of him!?!?

If the weather holds out; which it wont & if the bears dont get him; and they might & if he survives the snakes; which I doubt: we may see him at some point, if not his legend will live on in Gredos Mountains!

Back in Madrid - I made a big error not booking a hostel, so unable to get anywhere to stay as everywhere was fully booked, after checking 12 places finally got one! I wont make that mistake again, he says.

We had one last crazy night in Madrid - met "RANDOM GUY" which we dubbed him for the night, had a real giggle and managed to get home, which was a bonus!

Well all the photos will be uploaded as usual for you to see what im up to and what ive been upto. Next week very busy sorting out, banks, NIE and somewhere to finally call home I have a week to sort it all - wish me luck; im gonna need it!

click to see PHOTOS - may the force be with you!!!!

BTW: when applying for a room I found this line in the ad - property with a view of the moon through window!! now that's amazing salesmanship - sea view is one thing but a moon view!! Just think what we could do to property prices with sun and moon views!!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Live Life

The sun is shining today.
They were mowing the grass on the Green this morning and there was that definite smell of ‘summer’ in the air…
That (and having just chatted to Dade) has put me in a great mood!
I'm not holding out hopes that it’ll last too long (the weather that is!), but I am enjoying it for today….

I have had a hectic week since my last post…
Tuesday night I worked at the restaurant.
Wednesday night I caught up with David, a friend I worked with at Sky in NZ, who was over in London for 3 days (he’s doing a 7 week tour of Europe = intensely jealous!), I also had a farewell party for someone from work, so we went along to that, then we had a quick late dinner (to soak up the alcohol!) and then went and visited a mate of his at Sky here.
Thursday night I had a much needed night in, trying to organise my life.
Friday night I worked at the restaurant again.
Saturday and Sunday I worked day shifts at the restaurant. The bonus was this weekend, I had both nights off! YAY!
Ellen braved the public transport system and ventured into London and we had a good catch up over wine and dinner on Saturday night.
Last night I tried to have an early night, even went to bed about 8.30! But got so engrossed in the book I was reading I ended up still awake at 2am!!

Hey ho!! … its all go but those of you who know me personally, know I like to be busy!!

I’ve got a few things planned this week, including attending a music video filming as part of the onscreen audience but will leave you in suspense about it all so you have something to read about later!

Until then, always remember… “When making your choices in life, do not neglect to live.”

Friday, May 18, 2007

A master?

Well the time has finally arrived to earn my wings. Having been on two programs with both Masters and watched them work, it was time to put my money were my mouth is and prove I was worthy.

As usual it was an early start (did I ever mention I hate mornings?) however even earlier as we had further to travel as we set off for San Zoila - It was a long day, preparing scripts and activities for the group - this all goes on behind the scenes then I try to make it look as smooth as possible, lol.

I took the chance to get to know the group a little, it was a rather nice mix of ages and personalities which helped settle my nerves. I finished my final touches to scripts etc, and then encouraged people to participate in them - well when I say encouraged (I had a role that only THEY could do), which got them to perform; result! This was a great group that seemed up for whatever was asked of them and I was happy about that.

On Monday night we had a few sketches, a relaxation technique by Janelle (a very sweet Aussie) some magic from myself and Simon (another Aussie; far too talented for my liking, lol) rocked into the night on his guitar.

Tuesday was hectic with three sketch's and props to organise as well as me having to at least attempt to outdo Simon (that Aussie guy I mentioned), with even more impressive magic! Tuesday seemed a strange day with only a smattering of applause; not sure if they didn't get the sketches or what?

Wednesday was far better - maybe the ear was opening up now for the Spaniards because they seemed to get most everything this time. There was an AWESOME improv sketch, a mind gym exercise and Simon (the Aussie; said through gritted teeth) had yet again managed to upstage me with his singing and playing skills the night before - so I conceded and decided to teach him and the audience a trick! Well when I say that a trick took place and they had no idea how - but Simon was the Magi in this instance so earnt the credit, which he deserved as he perfectly ad libbed his way through the act.

Thursday nice easy day, trip to town all was going well; TOO WELL!!!! After spending a good three hours putting together a play list for the party to please as many people as possible, I plugged in my hard drive only to hear it POP!! The electrics blew my hard drive - no party!!!
So faced with the dilemma what to do I put the options to the group and like the true group they had become they rallied together using Ipod's to ensure the party went as well as it could be; and it was good! It was also good to see the spirit of the group come together like that.

Friday - tearful goodbyes and photos galore as we all head back to our lives, I do hope this time people will keep in touch, but it is hard for all concerned. Either way it has once again been a pleasure meeting and getting to know a group of total strangers with one objective learning English.

All in all I was very pleased with the results of the program and very happy with what I had managed to achieve and learn - the group also thought so, as they gave me a standing ovation at the end of the ceremony (just to see me cry, dam them!!!)

As usual I have posted photos HERE

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Photos from Portugal



Enjoy!!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Psychological test

Whilst floating around the net I stumbled upon this beauty - very clever indeed. Still if you spot what happening.

How cool was that - did you spot the changes? I didn't get all of them either, just goes to show sometimes you simply don't pay attention.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Benefits of Going Alone…

Last night I went to the Mika concert at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire. I believe it was only his 4th gig and it was absolutely fantastic! He is such an energetic performer and really got the crowd going. Here are some (admittedly not very good) photos from the show.



Get Your Own!


Originally I was meant to be going with Dade and Adam – I had organised it as a surprise for Dade’s birthday, but that was all before he moved to Spain! And he couldn’t be back this weekend. So faced with the dilemma that none of my friends were really keen to go (I know, it being a Monday night didn’t help) I could either sell all 3 tickets or sell 2 of them, and use the third to go to it alone. I did get a few odd comments from friends about going to a concert on my own – but hey since none of them would come with me, what was a girl to do?? And it seemed a shame to not go, since I had been really looking forward to it…
Besides I can honestly say the two concerts I have now been to on my own have been the best concert experiences I have had! (Pearl Jam 1997 Mt Smart Stadium and now Mika 2007 Shepherd’s Bush Empire).

The biggest advantage of going alone is that you actually met more people, since why not talk to strangers – it definitely seems the better option when faced with that or talking to yourself! In fact I think I met more people last night than I have in ages, well since Vaughan Town probably…

Strangers 1, 2 & 3 - I sold my two spare tickets to a lovely couple I found via Gumtree – arranged to meet them in a bar before the concert. Whilst I was waiting for them, sitting alone in the bar, three charming guys asked if they could join me – we ended up chatting for ages with them winding me up about the potential psychoses and appear defects of the two strangers I was waiting to meet! They insisted on waiting with me, just to make sure… (I think they were just curious!)…

Strangers 4 & 5 - They were much assured when Maria and Andy showed up – they were lovely, and I warmed too them immediately. We even all stayed and chatted for a bit longer since the bar and the company were definitely preferable to the queuing outside for the concert.

Strangers 6 & 7 - Inside The Empire, we met 2 girls who had seen Bryan Adams 48 times – 9 times already this year! Talk about die hard fans!

Strangers 8 & 9 - Just as the concert began we met Sheila and Jerry who I ended up bogeying with for the whole concert!

Stranger 10 - And lastly there was the friendly Portuguese guy who I met waiting for the bus home, who then spent my entire bus journey telling me why we’d visited the wrong part of Portugal (should have visited the north apparently!) and filling me in on the delicacies of Portuguese cuisine.

So total count of strangers befriended last night comes in at: 10!
(12 if you count the tall couple we were trying to get in front off the whole night! Though I am not quite sure if we can consider them ‘befriended’ as they weren’t that willing to let us in front of them!)

I must have been wearing my relaxed and friendly face last night!
(By the way for those of you worrying about my personal safety and sanity, don’t worry! Only one pint of beer was consumed last night, so all acquaintances made were done so in a completely coherent and sober state on my part!)

All in all it was a FANTASTIC EVENING! And I am so glad I went and didn’t just sell all three tickets! Dade and Adam you missed out on a fantastic gig!

I will finish this post with a few of Mika’s lyrics to ponder over…

“I tried to live alone But lonely is so lonely, alone So human as I am I had to give up my defenses so I smiled and tried to mean it To make myself let go…” – In Any Other World


“Relax, take it easy For there is nothing that we can do. It’s clear we don’t understand it, but the last thing on my mind Is to leave you. I believe that we’re in this together. Don’t scream – there are so many roads left. Relax, take it easy For there is nothing that we can do...” - Relax

Monday, May 14, 2007

In search of a meaningful existence...

Well another weekend passed working at the restaurant – worked 4 shifts over three days, bringing my total of hours outside my main job to 26… got home to discover my housemates up in arms over some pettiness about not sharing milk and missing slices of bread and today it is raining in London… I am starting to wonder what I am still doing here?

This thought was reinforced even more when I received an email this morning from one of my aunties, who is living in Thailand. A retired home-ec teacher, she moved out there at the start of this year to teach invaluable quilting skills to some very poor villagers so they could support themselves and earn their own incomes. She’s been filling us in on her adventures with monthly updates, and her stories are not only making me jealous, and stirring up the travel bug in me again, but also making me feel like my job and life here are so meaningless at the moment, when there is so much more of the world still to see and so many people of the world I could really make a difference too…

It’s all making me think, what am I waiting for? Why bide my time here, albeit reluctantly, when I could act now and put some meaning and direction back into my life.

The easier and most honest answer is money, and the ability, or inability to earn it elsewhere. Shame really, that money does make the world go round. But I have been in worse positions before and there are definitely a lot more people in the world far worse off than I am… And sometimes you do really need to spend a bit to make a bit, and believe in yourself and take that leap of faith. I have a few thoughts in mind, routes to investigate, and leads to follow up…

So watch this space, as movement shortly is more than inevitable now…

Friday, May 11, 2007

Sunny Gredos

The weeks seem to fly by at the moment. I've just completed yet another week in sunny Gredos; the weather has been excellent, this time under the wing of Greg as MC and me as his support. However that is until next week (which is only 2 days away), when I will be flying solo in San Zoilo.

This week proved very useful in order to try out ideas and see how the group reacts to different situations and figureheads, I personally thought the group worked very well together. The mix was quite vast from youngsters through to the more mature ;)

Having said that all the groups gave plenty of themselves and each took a turn to shine whether in a 1to1 situation or at the party, in which alcohol always helps (I really MUST learn to dance; although its a great excuse to hold a chica whilst she moves, lol).
The games were very enjoyable and it was great to see so many of you enjoying them and yourselves. One reason I love this program is the fact it helps you loose some of your inhibitions and brings out the real YOU!

I got to perform the neurotic Allan Felix (Woody Allen) in a play and although I kept losing my accent I think I did a good job, Greg seemed happy enough. I also got to act out some sketches I had put together as well as working with the improvisation group - who did me more than proud, well done to you all for having the cojones (balls) to play your roles ;)
I also got to show off my magic skills, which I really enjoyed too.

Yet again another great group, I don't know how it happens each time but it does. I hope to see some if not most of you all again, but don't expect the same program as I aim to keep you on your toes. I only hope I can be as good as you all think I will be; thank you ALL for your encouragement and your participation.

As usual I have posted a collection of photos to remind you of our experience HERE

Monday, May 07, 2007

Back to the Rat Race...

My last sight of Dade was in semi darkness and muffled by sleeply eyes - it was 4.30am! after only 2 hours sleep - and off I headed to find out how easy it was to flag down a taxi in the middle of the night in Madrid...

Well easier than I though actually, and definetly easier than last time (back in December) aye Dade? :-) . I was in a taxi ny 4.34 and at the airport by 4.45... DAMN! Check-in didn't open till 5.30! So much for the 30min drive to the airport! Thanks Rob!! So instead of having another 45mins sleep next to Dade, I ended up sleeping on the airport floor next to strangers (as I wasn't the only one but boy was I pleased I didn't take up the suggestion to catch the last Metro out to the airport (at 1.30) and sleep there the night...) Anyway, checked in opened, I checked in and then tried to catch another couple of hours kip in the departure lounge, then on the flight... Got back to England with relative ease, no missing luggage this time, and even out into the terminal before my lift arrived. Managed to make it home in time to dump my bags, freshen up and then head to work at the restaurant at for midday....

It was going to be a long day - longer than I thought I discovered when I saw the rota at work and found out I was actually working till 10pm, not just 7pm as I had thought! Well no time like the present to dive straight back into the rat race is there? (And those that know me know I like to be busy, especially when I am trying not to think about what a wonderful week I had last week, and the fact that I don't know when I'll next get to spend even just a day with Dade...) (But Babes, you ARE worth it and you know if I could be there I would...)

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Missing in action

Okay so I've been gone for some time, did you miss me??

So what have you been up to I hear you cry... ...well I stood in a queue for 12 hours, that's right count them 12 HOURS. In order to get a National Insurance number boy Spain works slowly. So I finally managed to get to the front of the queue, only to be told I need to pay money to the bank to get my card, OK no problem (i thought) only it was, it was a holiday for the next three days in Spain and the banks were closed, the two days it will be open I was going to be in Portugal (though i didn't know that at the time!) and t
hen the next two weeks I have 2 camps back to back so yet another month without payment looms!?! Fingers crossed all will be well though...

However I did have Carrie fly all the way from London to join me in the queue - yeah I know how to treat a girl!
Caz says... I could say something soppy here, like 'Standing in a queue with you is nothing and better than being apart" but in fairness, it was just wet, cold and annoyed me that at the end of it I still wouldn't even be allowed a work visa! Though YES, it was great to see you, just not the way I had expected to spend our first 5 hours together after being apart for 3 weeks!

We stayed at a cheap hotel that night, and all was well. UNTIL a bloody riot broke out in Madrid at 3am. No idea what caused it but Spaniards were smashing up streets and all sorts, and the police were dressed in riot gear chasing them. It appeared on the news the following day but I still don't know the cause.

Next day Carrie surprised me with a trip to Portugal for my birthday; We arrived at the airport early - in fact we were the first to check in, then sat around chatting close to our gate (at least we thought) then we starting to make our way to the gate thinking it must be ready to board only to our surprise hear them announce LAST CALL for our flight; they were closing the gate!!! I did a dad run (Peter Kaye will explain), to the gate to see WE were the last two to board - the plane had 10 other people on it!
Caz says... How many times have you been at a boarding gate on time, and not been allowed to board for at LEAST 10-15 later? Well this would have been the ONE time!

So that dilemma over we relaxed and later (well actually at the same time, as they are an hour ahead) we arrived in Portugal. We arrived into Faro, and we were staying in Albufeira, which is only 40kms west, jumped on an 'express' bus thinking we'd be there in no time... Well the fact that driver managed to get us stuck in a car park for 20mins, only 2 mins after leaving the bus depot could have been an indication of how things were heading... We have no idea why, or how we ended up in the car park - had the bus driver never driven this route before? It took a passing lorry (YES! in the car park!) to lead him out before we were really on our way... An hour later we got to Albufeira and headed for our hotel which was apparently only a few hundred metres away from the bus station... ...RIGHT!!

After 2.5 hours and numerous rouch sketch maps drawn by locals, we found the hotel only to be told they had closed (reason unknown) and we had been upgraded to a different one - she drew another bad map explaining its 5 mins away and easy to find and so we headed off again, 1 hour later and after stopping in a bar for a beer out of desperation we found the next place - thanks to the english bar lady who can give directions and can draw a decent map!
Caz says... See, the english in the resort were good for something! :-) So much for easy!

So now tired and exhausted from the travels and having seen most of Albufeira, whilst lugging our luggage around, we crashed onto the beds. Chewy says.... It was at this point Dade was pleased that I insisted we only bring hand luggage!... It turns out our original hotel was only 50m from the bus station! - the OLD one! Hostelworld you need to update the details!


So Albuferia (in the Algarve) was to be home for the next few days, but from what we had already seen, we'd seen most of it! It was nice enough but I'm sorry to say not somewhere neither of us would be keen to go again.
Caz says... among other things it was a little too quiet, and not enough to do if you weren't content on just lazing on the beach - which we can both do, for a bit, but then we need more - like snorkeling, or climbing, or the like! (Admittedly as we did not have a car we could not explore further afield, nor was it peak season, but from what was made obvious lying on the beach was the thing to do here...)

It was full of Brits who had issues with food and fashion. You know the kind of people who back home would never dream of wearing those ghastly colours or socks & sandals together, but here it was okay. The kind of people who eat huge ice creams and claim they have a thyroid issue and THAT'S why their overweight. Speaking of puddings; as it was my birthday I asked for a Apple Pie, Carrie asked for a crepe - who got the better deal!?
Caz says... the crepe was sooooo good! Strawberries and chocolate sauce, and lashings of whipped cream! Apart from that crepe though, I was rather disappointed in the food, far from cheap offerings of fabulous seafood and more like medicore british half board food! And fries with EVERYTHING! I even had fries served to me at breakfast when i ordered an omelet!

Carrie got a great sun burn, pics coming (I hope)
Caz says... not on your life! - Yes mum, it was my typical first 'burn' of the year, and yes I did take sunscreen with me! It was the wind that deceived us to how hot the sun actually was...

She took me out for my Birthday to a nice Indian restaurant, where I tucked in 'Indian style'; eating with my fingers etc. Only to hear some older guy criticising every table around him and not even discreetly - almost like he thought we didn't understand English. I heard him ask his wife "are they English?" She replied "Yes" at which point he says "and he's eating with his hands, eerrrk". He also kept criticising another table - a guy with tattoos, to be honest I was SO close to speaking out, but didn't for fear it may ruin the night, so we him to his ignorance and enjoyed our own company.

Caz says... despite our negative comments on the place, we did have a great time, and it was very relaxing not to have to be anywhere or do anything at any particular time - plus we got to spend all that time together chilling...

So after 4 days relaxing in Portugal and sunning ourselves we headed back to Madrid - not without first having one last almost disaster - we booked a minibus to take us to the airport, he was 30 minutes late which only made things look like a repeat performance.
Caz says... we had thought paying the extra 4€ and saving us taking 3 buses and 2.5 hours was worth it! But in the end our Portuguese driver drove in true Portuguese style and didn't let us down and we arrived back with no complications, the flights to and from where very good (www.ryanair.com) and cheap ;) Caz says... you thought 1 penny seats were cheap, try 1 euro cent seats!

So we headed to Rob's to reclaim the rest of our cases and he kindly agreed to let us stay there as Carrie was flying back at a stupid hour the next morning and I had a program the next day.

Carrie and I headed out to the Tapas meet and greet (it's where all the volunteers for Vaughantown meet) you also get free food and drink ;) After meeting the Anglo's Carrie said we had to stop off somewhere she knew?? She knows no where? Thought I. Suddenly a plot was hatching!

Anyway I deduced it was Andy, then realised he was in the south of Spain? Chris? yes, she had met Chris once and we got on well, that must be it. O Boy was I in for a shock!
Caz says... I was just impressed I'd managed to keep it all a secret so long! Do you still hate Surprises Dade?

We turned up at the station, met by Chris, then Emma, walked into the bar and there was around 20+ people there i had meet through my time in Spain, teachers I worked with, Rob and his girlfriend, Spaniards from camps, trust me this was a military operation to get three groups of people who didn't know each other together at one place to celebrate my Birthday, I couldn't have managed it!!!
Caz says... I had wanted to get you all the way into the bar before you saw anyone, but Chris's directions of, its right near Alsonzo Martinez left out the bit about all the sides streets between the two!

I realised just how special Carrie is and what she was prepared to do, and I also felt shit because I had told her I didn't want to commit to anything because I didn't feel ready for a serious relationship with anyone and I knew that her being in London and I in Spain was very difficult for us both. I guess I need to look into just what I do want and what I'm prepared to offer, what I can say is it was the nicest surprise ever and totally unexpected and for that I thank her greatly and to all those who attended I thank you for making the effort and taking the time.

You sometimes don't realise the lives you touch and the difference you make but it's nice to know that sometimes you do get to see just how much people care.
Caz says... And you are worth caring about, HAPPY BIRTHDAY DADE!
 
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