Another Weekend Comes and Goes
This weekend turned out to be a pretty good one.
Friday night was my first TimePlan social at a very cool pub in the downtown area. Tons of teachers and staff came out for a free drink and buffet and to socialize. I was really surprised at the number of people who came out - including the office manager and other higher-ups. The food was great, the bar had a fun, trendy atmosphere, and we met a whole lot of people from all around the world. Some of whose names I remember...
I drank a LOT of beer (it was super cheap and some was free) and then two "Snakebites", which are apparently a mix of beer, cider, and something else... those things packed quite a punch, to the delight of the Australian teacher who suggested I try one. I'll get him back next time...
We met a Canadian couple who actually lived in London, Ontario, had gone to Western University and lived within a few blocks of our last place there. It was so strange to be sitting in a bar here talking about places back home with people who knew what streets you lived on. We talked nostalgically about Tim Horton's coffee, hockey games, and living spaces that are bigger than a walk-in closet. They were telling us about a Canadian style bar that has all sorts of good beer and puts on a huge party every Canada Day. Apparently it's a good fix for Canadians who are feeling homesick. I can't wait to find out if they play hockey games.
Friday's events brought home the realization that I have signed on with an excellent company. Not just because they spring for a free drink & food for all of their teachers once a month, but also that their office is full of people who'd been originally hired on to be teachers. All of the employees I've met started off just like me. They divide their office people so each has a "team" of teachers (usually all from one country) so they can properly help us get accomodated and find work. It's amazing how much they remember about us - one of the office people actually asked Jeremy if he'd had any luck finding work yet. Amazing the difference that you see in people when their company actually worries about their well-being.
At the end of the night we found our way towards the night buses. Anybody who's been in London and ridden a night bus knows the kind of things that happen. We were told a story about people rolling then SMOKING joints on the top of a double decker night bus - apparently the whole top of the bus was full of smoke yet nobody did anything about it.
On our bus, a very drunk guy offered the bus driver 5 pounds to wait for his mates, who were slowly making their way up the road from a pretty long ways away. The bus moved on. We stayed on the bottom of the bus because the top sounded like a house party. Loud music, a little smoke, and lots of shouting and laughing. Nobody got off from the top of the bus the entire time we were on it.
Saturday involved sleeping in very late, relaxing around our flat; reading and playing video games. I've re-discovered Super Mario and all sorts of cheesy Nintendo games - a decent substitute when you have no internet access or TV in your place. I totally suck at MarioKart now, which is a disappointment because I used to kick butt at that game.
Today we went to Kensington Gardens with Eve and a couple of her work friends who are actually from Germany. The weather was incredible: very warm (28 degrees) and sunny with one of those nice light breezes. We sat on the grass and watched the zillions of birds and people wandering around enjoying the day. I took a lot of pictures (see my photoblog) again. This place is perfect for any photographer - you never run out of things to take pictures of.
We had some very interesting conversations about why some French Canadians want to seperate from Canada, places in Germany that are fun to visit, why Canadians love ice hockey as much as they do, the mystery of the game of cricket (that none of us understand, but everybody in Britian seems to love), and where we were on Sept 11, 2001. I love talking to people from other countries - it's always an eye opener to see how people from other places look at Canadians. They really do think we all love beer & hockey. Unfortunately I completely fit the stereotype so people don't always believe me when I tell them lots of people don't share these passions.
We found this great little market that sells hot food like curly fries, samosas, wings, chicken pieces, spring rolls, and all sorts of other good treats for a very small price. It's really close to our flat, so I can see us going there very often. Only 99p for a huge serving of curly fries. I'm really glad my job means I'm running all over the city and on my feet all day. We learned in the first week that the British love their "chips" - we're learning not to call them fries.
We're getting used to finding our way around this place without consulting a map all the time, have made a few aquaintances that will probably turn into friends, and are lucky enough to be in a gorgeous part of this amazing city.
Even though we haven't had any breaks yet from the bad news I've mentioned before, the optimist in me feels good tonight. I'm sitting outside in a beautiful night under a huge maple tree listening to internet radio and drinking a glass of cheap French wine.
Tonight it's okay that I don't know what tomorrow will bring.