Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Pros and Cons

I need advice.

Jeremy and I are facing a decision that we have been trying to sort out for a few weeks now. Neither of us has been able to come to any conclusion and we have to make some major choices soon.

So I thought it was time to share this with the teeny (but much loved) group of people who read my blog. Since I admire you all so much, I am asking, no wait - begging, for somebody who is not going to be directly effected by this choice to step in and be a voice of reason.

As I've posted before, Jeremy won his appeal and has been granted his working holiday visa. The catch is that he has to return to Canada AGAIN in order to receive it. So we face a dilemma: does he fly back, get his visa, and return here again where we will live and work until the end of next summer? Or does he wait a bit, fly back to Canada, move in with our friend George (who's like family and just got a two-bedroom condo in London, Ontario) and live and work there while waiting for me to move back this summer?

So that's the choices. Live here for another year and a half or just until July.

And here is my Pros and Cons list (feel free to comment with any others that I might have missed):

Pros: Staying in London for 18 More Months
* we would get a chance to travel (since we'd both be working and could finally afford it)
* we'd be able to earn our keep in British pounds so every extra pound saved is worth $2.40 Canadian
* I'm guaranteed to be working often (possibly with the school I'm at now)
* Jeremy might actually get to work in HIS field
* Pub Nights
* Cheap beer
* tons of things to see and do
* we live beside one of the most beautiful parks in the country
* Don't need a car because public transportation (usually) is fantastic
* I'll be able to finally imitate a British accent properly

Cons to Staying for 18 More Months
* This city is ridiculously expensive and we might not actually save any money at all
* Homesickness, missing holidays, birthdays, and my nephews growing up
* The flats here are SO small
* Missing out on potential jobs in Canada because I'm here
* commuting for an hour every day sucks
* having to deal with annoying tourists
* No hockey for AGES
* No BBQ, no Wendy's, no dill pickles, no Jalapeno Cheedar Doritos, no East Side Marios or Casey's, no extra huge servings at restaurants that means a yummy lunch the next day
* the only places I'd be able to go swimming are at least 2 hrs by (train or plane) away

Pros to Moving Back to Canada (to London, Ontario) in July
* We'd have a place to stay pretty much rent-free for several months
* That place comes equipped with en-suite laundry, a pool, a hot tub, and a sauna
* We'd be back home with friends and family
* I wouldn't be homesick anymore
* Being in a place that doesn't involve battling 7 million other people to get to work every day
* it's GREEN in Canada and I'm just a drive away from our cottage
* We'd get to have all of the yummy foods that we miss
* I'd get to use all the stuff stored under Jeremy's grandparent's place (like my kitchen stuff and the BBQ)
* SPACE!!! Humanely-sized apartments, wide open spaces, lots of trees and fields, and of course, the lakes - reason enough to want to come home.

Cons to Moving Back in July
* I might not have a teaching job to return to (and it's really hard to get one in Canada)
* No car of my own
* possibly myself and Jeremy having to work at call centers again
* Not getting to travel

I know I've repeated myself a dozen times but I really don't feel like going through and editing this post - every time I read these lists I get more confused.

So there it is - let me know what you think.

Thanks in advance.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

What happens when you mix 1 inch of snow with 7 million Londoners??

total chaos...

I could go on for a long time about how funny it is to watch people react to snow when they're not used to it, how there were hundreds of accidents, train lines were closed down, and the commute to work was made even more difficult and lengthy than normal.

But I won't.

Instead, I'll focus on the adorable reaction that the children had to the snow, carrying armloads of it around with them as they made their way to school. How their faces lit up at the thought of building a snowman. How excited they were when they finally made it into the classroom this morning.

I'll think about my own reaction to walking up the stairs to the street and seeing a blanket of white covering the cars and bushes. Since we weren't really expecting snow, it was a shock that left me standing in the street (much like one of the children mentioned above) staring wide-eyed as I pulled out my phone to take a picture.

Halfway up the street, I realized that I would have time to dash into Kensington Gardens to see what it looked like.

Not having a decent camera this morning would have made me sad if it hadn't been so beautiful. After finally tearing myself away from the park (since I was going to be late if I didn't get moving), I bumped into a guy taking pictures as well. We exchanged lively greetings (something that never happens in the streets here - people are too busy pretending nobody else is around them) and discussed how cool it was that it snowed here.

Being Canadian, I'm used to complaining about snow. It's funny how moving away has made me nostalgic for all of the good things that winter can bring...

The view from my classroom window this morning

the schoolyard

Here's my favourite picture. It's of a group of my students watching the other children come into the schoolyard, carrying loads of snow and jumping around with excitment. They all wanted to go back outside (and I wish I could have let them) but since somebody had to be the grown-up, they had to settle for looking out the windows.

I hope I remember how happy this made me when I'm back in Canada scraping ice off of a windshield in -20 degree temperatures.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


People in London sure love their newspapers. Especially this moron who almost poked 4 people in the eye with his elbows as he held his newspaper fully open on the very busy train today (so busy that most people could barely read their papers after folding them in half). I guess his concession to the other travelers was holding the paper high above their heads - so we were also treated to the lovely smell of his armpits. I'd like to say that the picture is misleading and he wasn't that close to me when I took it, but unfortunately the memory of being brushed on the top of the head by both his arm and his newspaper remains very fresh in my mind.

It's amazing how some people can completely ignore the world around them...

Monday, January 22, 2007

Is it Monday already?!

It's 6:30am and I should be feeling awake and refreshed after a relaxing weekend. Instead my eyes are begging me for "5 more minutes" of being closed.

I had a fantastic, very busy, weekend. Did not accomplish some of the things I wanted to do, like vaccuum the flat or get some letters written to send to Canada. I forgot to call my grandmother even after writing myself a note. And Jeremy pretty much took care of tidying up our place and doing dishes (Thanks honey!).


An incredibly hectic day at school, during which I realized just how essential my Teacher's Assistants really are (not that I didn't appreciate them before, but it's even more so now that they're not in the room all the time). We've got new programs running at school where the children are taken out of class for brief periods of time to work in small groups on literacy or math skills. While I fully support this program, it takes away the benefit of having another adult in the classroom and I have to plan lessons around groups of kids not being there. When you teach a class of 30 children, you get quite a wide range of ability. Some of my kids are still struggling to read and write, while others are working a year ahead.
While I am able to handle this and all of the things that come up when you're juggling such a large group of active little ones, I and the other teachers have been totally spoiled by having TA's in the room with us. See, they do the photocopying, they help keep an eye on the class, and they work with one table of children so we can focus on another group. One day they might work with the lowest ability group (this is most often the case), so I'm able to really challenge my highest ability children and ensure that the ones in the middle are achieving their learning objectives.
Okay, lots of teacher talk, I know.
Without the extra adult, I find it very hard to meet the varying needs of such a large class. I feel frustrated that I'm not able to sit down at one table and make sure that each group of children really understands what they're doing.
Hopefully this week things will get easier...

You Can Find Me in the The Pub

One of my favourite British traditions is the Friday pub nights that every single person in the city seems to attend. Doesn't matter if you're a banker or a teacher or a roadworker - when 5pm comes around, everybody's crammed into their favourite cozy pub, drinking pints and sharing stories about their week.
Jeremy and I usually like to have quiet Friday nights in, usually because we're tired from the week and just want some down-time. But when I was invited to go for a few drinks with some teachers from the school, I found myself agreeing right away. As tired as I was, the idea of pub food (had alfredo pasta with chicken, garlic bread and salad) and drinking (mainly rum & cokes), was greatly appealing.
We headed to a fantastic place about a 5 minute drive from the school and spent several hours drinking and talking. And laughing. A lot.
I had a great time and look forward to our next night out - it's so nice to finally spend time with coworkers again (something I took for granted while living in Canada) and actually making some more friends in this huge city.


This was supposed to be a quiet afternoon and evening at home, but instead we were invited to a late dinner at our friend Aziz's place. He lives in Kensal Rise, about two blocks from where the tornado hit several weeks back (he slept through the whole storm apparently) and has one of those places that just feels comfortable to be in. His best friend Abdul is the chef at a fairly posh restaurant in the City and is almost always our cook. This time, he threw together meatballs in tomato sauce and basmati rice with saffron and all sorts of other spices in about 30 minutes, creating one of the best meals I've had in months. We drank wine and talked, visited with Aziz's daughter, and had a great time as usual.

I went to bed promising myself that Sunday would be a quiet day where I could catch up on laundry, take a walk in the park, and get some things done that I keep putting off.


My waking thoughts were happy memories of the night before and excitement at getting to spend some time in the park. It was a sunny morning and I jumped out of bed and into the shower so I could head down to Starbucks for a coffee to take along for the walk.

Then the phone rang...

It was Eve, inviting me to her friend Annella's place for the afternoon and an early dinner. Since Annella and her husband live in Wimbledon and I've always wanted to see that part of the city, I decided to accept the invite and leave the walk in the park until another time.

Me being a cheesy tourist (wanted the picture to show Jeremy's grandmother, who's a huge tennis fan)

We hopped on the train around 3pm and met Annella and Nick at a nearby pub, where they were just finishing a drink. Before heading to their place, they took us to a charity shop in Wimbledon Village where apparently a bunch of celebrities go (we didn't see any) - and that also has some pretty original items. Nick was telling us about a friend of his who bought an antique piece for 5 pounds that ended up being worth 2500. While we didn't find anything of that kind of value, all four of us got a little treat - Nick got a cashmere scarf, I got a silk scarf, Eve got a lovely bag, and Annella got a gorgeous angel water feature for their flat.

Their place is totally beautiful and in a complex with tons of gardens and rolling hilly spaces between the parking lots and buildings. The buildings are covered in ivy, which must be pretty incredible looking in the summertime.

We were greeted by a trio of cockatiels in the living room who were too skittish to come and sit on our shoulders but kept a very close watch on our dinners while we were eating. Most of our time was spent on their rooftop terrace, which Annella has covered with plants, shrubs and flowers. They have a pretty large chiminea (they called it a wood burner) that we sat in front of it for hours, cuddled under blankets under the stars. Annella totally spoiled us with heavy blankets, pillows to sit on, good wine, chocolate, coffee, and a hot water bottle once it got really cold.

Their very gorgeous bathroom with a nice big bathtub - I'm jealous
The spiral staircase leading from the living room to the terrace on the roof.

Drinking under the stars beside a roaring fire, pointing out constellations (I found O'rien, the one my dad always used to bring me outside to show me during winter nights when I was little), really made me nostalgic for home, so I started telling them all about my lake and what it was like to live there. It's funny that they think my life in Canada was so exotic. When I was growing up, I thought it was boring. Now I know just how lucky I was...

Annella decided that we needed more wood and rather than tearing up her old, broken chair (see above), she opted for tearing up an old wooden thing they kept in their bathroom. I guess a few bottles of wine can be blamed for their creative spark - we'd run out of wood and nobody wanted to go back inside... I guess the bathroom stepper (or whatever it was) made them happier in the wood burner than it ever did in their bathroom.

Yesterday was one of those golden days that I'll always treasure - one of those perfect Sundays, where nobody complains about work the next day (much) and everybody feels content and happy (and slightly drunk) and experiences that feeling that the rest of the world is a million miles away. They have a little piece of heaven down there in Wimbledon and I can't wait to go back for another visit.

So that was my weekend. I didn't get any marking done, or any housework. I didn't write my letters or emails home and my phone barely touched my ear. I didn't stress about money (since we hardly spent any) and we spent no time talking about Jeremy needing to go back to Canada again. Instead, I got to make new friends, become closer to people who are already friends, and experience some pretty great things that can only happen when you're in good company (and possibly in one of the greatest cities in the world).

Until next time... Happy Monday everybody

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The London Commuter's Creed


Becoming a London commuter is like being part of a special club. Like any big city, the rush to and from work comes with a code of behaviour that everybody learns to follow:

I will always appear to be in a hurry. Even if I'm 30 minutes ahead of schedule.

I will never, ever make eye contact with another person on a train or bus. And if necessary, I will hide behind a newspaper so I can pretend I'm traveling alone.

I will stand as close as possible to the doors of the trains in the Underground, so people can just barely get by me - that way I can get on first.

I will roll my eyes at people who sneeze or cough during cold season (even if I've got a cold myself).

On Friday afternoons, I will produce cold cans of Foster or Stella from inside my bag to drink in front of (and possibly spill on) other people.

If I'm a teenager, I will make sure to be as loud as possible, making sure to include "F" this and "F" with every sentence so my friends and the other people traveling know how cool (and loud) I am.

If I'm not sure where I'm going, I'll ask for help even though there are signs on every wall providing maps and directions.

If I'm a tourist, I'll repeat "moind the gap" and the name of every single train stop with a terrible British accent. *

I will listen to my iPod as loudly as possible. So everybody can enjoy my music too.

If I'm pregnant, elderly, or using crutches, I will stand in front of people sitting down and give them the evil eye until they give me their seat. **

I will dress in layers to accomodate the extreme temperature differences between the cold of outside and the sauna-like heat of the Underground.

If I'm eating, I'll be sure to leave my trash (including uneaten food) on the trains because people will clean the train at the end of the line.

When there are delays in the Underground, I'll curse and swear under my breath, but when the person beside me makes a comment, I pretend I can't hear them.

Given the opportunity, I will run up the "down" stairs, race around people queuing up, go the wrong way through the Tube stations (and will not care if people going in the right direction have to dodge around me), and squeeze onto an already full elevator because I'm in such a hurry.

I will complain about the people who take up more than one seat, but if I get the chance, will doe exactly the same thing (my bag is a lot happier in the chair beside me).

I will drink, smoke, and swear on the night buses.***

I will talk on my mobile for as long as possible, and will compose text messages when the network is not available in the Underground.

I will get through the commute each day by reading newspapers, drinking bottles of water, talking on my mobile, and being thankful for not having to drive through the streets of one of the world's busiest cities.

I will complain every day about how awful the transportation in this city is, but when traveling in a different place, will brag about how much better everything is in London.

* I must admit to doing this myself for the first couple of weeks.
** I'm not saying they shouldn't have the seats, but it's hilarious to watch them glare at people as soon as they walk onto the buses or trains.
*** This is even funnier to watch - people either don't care and will go as far as rolling then smoking a joint on the bus, or they'll be very paranoid (but still wanting to impress their moron friends) so they'll try to hide the billowing smoke coming from under their hands.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

The News

Yesterday, I alluded to finally finding out some things about Jeremy's visa situation.

A few days ago, he recieved a call from the department in charge of issuing working holiday visas - the people who potentially could have taken until March 7th to give us a response.

The good news?

He won his appeal and will be issued the long-sought-after visa.

Unfortunately, that's not all...

The bad news is that he has to go back to Canada to recieve it. Apparently he shouldn't have even been allowed back into the UK while his visa was under appeal. I find that hilarious because nobody from the visa department told him this even when he specifically said that he'd be returning to England on December 20th. Not one person in the three weeks of waiting (when he called them every day) told him that he would not be allowed to recieve his visa from here. To top this off, nobody at the border said a word to him either. No questions asked - welcome back to England.

If we had been given any indication that he would have to return to Canada to get this, he would have stayed home and I would have gone home for Christmas. And saved hundreds of dollars that we don't have.

I had worked up a good rant about all of this, but to be honest, I'd just be repeating this:

What a stupid, stupid situation.

Plus, I'm not that angry anymore. Oh, I'm sure I'll get pissed off when he has to fork over more money for a plane ticket so he can mail his passport and boarding pass (to prove he's in the country) and get it stamped and sent back to him, but for right now all I'm going to focus on is the fact that after the next couple of months we'll both be working and making money. So our travels can begin, we'll be able to go grocery shopping without counting every single pound we spend, and I can pay off some of my debts.

This time, he'll probably only be gone for 3 weeks, and will be able to bring some things from home that we needed but didn't want to haul over here if we weren't going to stay.

Part of me is a little disappointed that we're not moving back home this summer, but I know that this opportunity will not come again. So we'll save money to visit home (maybe this summer) and start planning our trips around this beautiful part of the world.

So hopefully by the time my birthday rolls around in March, all of this will be behind us...

Saturday, January 13, 2007

My new Addiction


Not having a television was supposed to help me escape from watching too much TV.

Unfortunately for my self-control (and promises to read some classic books and get a little bit of culture while I'm living here), there are places on the internet that have lured me with their promises of "Updated!" seasons of Friends, Seinfeld, That 70's Show, Desperate Housewives, The Drew Carey Show, ...and now I'm sounding like a total TV addict.

In my defense, I started watching all of these old shows while Jeremy was in Canada waiting for his visa (as a totally off-topic comment - there have been major updates to this situation that I cannot disclose at this time. More on that another day). The flat was just too quiet when I would get home from work, so the sounds of my favourite television shows were the perfect way to make things feel less lonely.

Having worked my way through several seasons of 90's sitcoms, I decided to try watching both the American and British versions of The Office. After a taste-test of both pilots and first episodes, I decided that the US version was more to my liking and have managed to marathon my way through all three seasons in just over a week.

Also in my defense, these episodes are only 20 minutes long and the show is damn good so I don't think there's anything wrong with watching 9 episodes in a row.

I'm hooked on the characters and storylines of this show just like I was with Friends when it first came out. The writing is fantastic, the show is perfectly cast, and if I wasn't a sensible 27-year-old, I'd totally have a crush on Jim, the loveable smartass character who plays pranks on his obnoxious colleague that remind me of when I worked in an office in London, Ontario.

Oh hell, maybe I do have a little crush.

Don't tell Jeremy though. *

Once again in my defense, Jim's character is a lot like Jeremy in many ways. So instead of being embarrased at having a crush on a TV character, I can just tell myself that it's really just an extension of my crush on my boyfriend.

Anyway, I had to write about this because the storylines reminded me so much of what my life was like when I first moved away from home. So many things that have been written into the plot of this show that actually happen in offices all over: Office romances, weird bosses, jealousy and competition between co-workers, gossip, lame office parties, nights when everybody gets drunk and somebody does something stupid that everybody talks about until the next night out, and of course, the hilarious ways that some people mess with other people's heads.

There is always The Kiss-Ass - an employee who will be really nice to your face, but has the knife he or she will use to stab you in the back sharpened and kept in a little corner of their desk. Just in case they need to get it quickly. These people are usually the ones who get pranked and often don't even know it.

The office I worked in was part of a "telephone support company for major computer and tech device manufacturers around the world".

A Call Center.

With over 1,000 employees, most of them just out of high school or trying to get relevant work experiences to put on their resumes (which they send out to other companies during breaks), things get really interesting.

Titles like "Temporary Team Manager" and "Associate Trainer" allow the company to give people more work and responsibility without paying them more. Yet everybody fights over these positions because they really believe it gives them more Power. In reality, they have no more authority with these new jobs, but they do get more stress and have to work longer hours. Without more pay.

There are three types of people who work at the Call Center:
1. The "I'm only here until I find something better" people: they come in for a year or less, and spend all of their time trying to convince fellow employees that they "won't be here for long". And they usually aren't.

2. The Lifers: this group is broken down into two smaller groups. The first group are the ones who fight to get the "assistant to the..." and the "associate ..." jobs, while the second group are content to waste time in a dead-end job without making waves or really working hard at all. The people in the second group are much happier than those in the first, which is funny because the first group truly think that they are the luckier ones.

3. The People in Charge: very few people fit into this group - although many employees mistakenly think they're a part of the club. These people can spy on emails and web traffic, decide friday will be Funny Hat Day, and basically hide in their offices all day long so nobody sees them.

My experiences at the call center have become funnier as time goes by. I can laugh at the dumb things we used to stress over, and remember the strange office relationships that pretty much dissolved when I left the company to go to Teacher's College.

I never thought I'd want to relive those times again - but here I am, watching multiple episodes of The Office and remembering the good times that we all used to have back then with a smile. And a touch of wistfulness for things that only seemed to exist within those four walls.

* I realize that Jeremy's mom and other family members read this blog and hope that they know I'm not going to run away with a guy who works for a paper supply company in Scranton, PA. Even if he is cute and funny. Oh right. And a TV character.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

balmy January days

I can't believe how completely idiotic some people have become.

I know this isn't the nicest way to start a blog post, but I'm completely disgusted by an news item that appeared online today.

This morning, I read an article on about the warm temperatures that have been happening all over North America and Europe: People golfing in January, almost hitting black bears on the highways (because it's too warm for them to hibernate), ice shelfs breaking off in the Arctic circle, etc., are all signs of global warming, yet some people (ie. government officials in the USA) refuse to believe that global warming exists.

"it's climate change"

"we're in El Nino"

"look at Denver - huge snowstorms there, so it must mean that everything's okay!"

Yes, snow in Denver means that thousand year old ice shelves will suddenly freeze themselves back together, we'll see regular winter temperatures in Canada again, and that flowers will stop blooming in January. I have a friend who lives in Yellowknife, a place where the temperature would drop to -60 degrees celsius during January. When we talked over the holidays, she mentioned how much warmer it's been up there, with the coldest days being more like -30 degrees instead. When we were growing up in Northern Ontario, it was completely normal to get down to -30 during January. Now that's unheard of, and this year they don't have any snow, and there is hardly any ice on the lake that we used to snowmobiling on this time of year.

But there's no such thing as global warming.

The summers for the last two years have been ridiculously hot - the hottest on record, yet the governments keep saying that it's a "warming trend" that is part of some cycle. Britain had the hottest summer ever in 2006, and back home in Canada, my parents were still swimming in our lake at the end of September.

But there's no such thing as global warming.

"Is it really a broadly based area that's seeing particular change? The answer is yes," says Ted Scambos, a glaciologist with the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colo. "From Europe, the East Coast, north to the Arctic and across to Siberia, there's a very large swath of the Northern Hemisphere for the months of September, October and November that [were] exceedingly warm . . . "

So it's bad. Except for one thing. What you might call, at the moment, the Denver factor.

Denver got four feet of snow in December. The third big storm blew in Friday. Snowdrifts of 10 feet! An automobile-snuffing avalanche in a mountain pass west of town! In Denver, January is still January.

Dennis Feltgen, a National Weather Service meteorologist, says climate change isn't the culprit. It's El Niño. Warm water in the tropical Pacific, changed wind patterns, lots of balmy air blowing our way from the southern United States.

"We're in an El Niño, which has absolutely nothing to do with global warming," Feltgen says. "It keeps a lot of the cold air locked up in Canada, and makes the West Coast of the United States stormy, which we've seen, and makes the southern one-third of the country wetter than normal."

Anybody in Canada want to comment on all of the "cold air" that's been locked up in our country? Has any city in the Great White North (soon to be the Great Green North) experienced a regular winter so far this year?

So let's review.

On the side of "No Such Thing as Global Warming", we have:
* Crazy snowstorms in Denver
* El Nino

On the side of Global Warming, we have:
* highest recorded temperatures in North America and Europe
* polar ice caps breaking
* no snow at Christmas in areas where there used to be snow
* flowers blooming in January
* ski resorts in Europe are struggling to open
* warmer ocean temperatures
* plant and animal species facing extinction - including polar bears
* dozens more things listed on various websites

The scary part of this is that little countries like Britain are doing all they can to decrease carbon emissions and greenhouse gases, but places like the USA refuse to even acknowledge or discuss the problem:

When asked about the Arctic climate policy report, Claussen said the U.S. government does not want to see strong policy recommendations. "They prefer to stick with their own policies," she said, and she doesn't expect any major changes in the Bush administration's policies on global warming.
Source: news

I know it's an over-generalization to say "the USA" doesn't care about global warming, since there most definitely are people in their country who do care and are trying to help fight the problem. The difficulty with this situation is that the people who have the power to change things are refusing to put in the time and money to fix things.

If I could make a wish for the world, it would be that the world will still be here for our children and grandchildren and THEIR grandchildren and... well, you get the idea.

I'll also go to sleep tonight listening to the wind through the trees and being glad that even in a huge city like London, you can still find nature. Even if it might not be there forever...

Saturday, January 06, 2007

World Junior Hockey Champions 2007

Canada Beats Russia 4-2 and Wins the Gold Medal for the Third Straight Year

They pile together on the blue line, looking exhausted and shell-shocked, smiling, wiping away tears, and staring up the the crowds of cheering fans. Every team wants to be a part of The Picture. The one that happens at the end of every tournament; a tradition for the winning team that seems to be just as important as recieving the medals themselves. They stand as a group, arms around each other, as people cheer and take pictures. It's a moment that I'm sure each one of those players will never forget.

Every year I watch the World Junior Hockey Championship and spend hours watching the games and making predictions and arguing about what's going to happen next with my father. Since it comes right after Christmas (usually starts on Dec 26th), we usually get to watch the first few games together at my parent's house.

The reason I love this tournament so much is because these kids play with more heart and drive than most players in the NHL. For no money at all. Just the love of the game and to make their countries proud, they play against the best young players from all around the world. Some of the most incredible things I've seen in a lifetime of watching this sport have come from this annual competition.

Hundred of Canadians post comments on the CBC and TSN websites about how proud we are of our boys. Let me join in to say CONGRATULATIONS GUYS - WE'RE ALL SO PROUD OF YOU!!

The best part of the tournament comes when the clock runs down and our goalie throws his mask, gloves, and stick in the air and is joined by the team in the center of the ice to celebrate, while Canadians around the world smile and cheer and think once again that we are completely justified in calling hockey Our Game. This year TSN put a microphone on the team while our national anthem was playing, so we were treated to listening to a bunch of hockey players try to sing between whoops of joy.

I'll never get tired of hearing that song.

Living in England, I (obviously) don't get to hear our national anthem very often. In fact, the last time I heard O Canada was during our first week in Bayswater when, late one night, a group of very drunk french Canadian tourists were loudly singing it in the streets. So it was even sweeter this year to hear it at the end of the gold medal game.

It's funny how living in another country has made me even more proud to be a Canadian.

* pictures taken from articles on


Well it's been a very interesting year so far...

I have started and deleted 3 blog posts this week. As I mentioned in my New Year's post, things haven't changed now that 2007 has begun. Money is still a major headache, and things with Jeremy's visa are in the hands of The Tribunal (whoever they are) and could potentially take until MARCH 7TH - when they can still deny his appeal. So now we have to figure out where we're going to live, since I most definitely can't affort to continue paying for our current place.

This week, Romania and Bulgaria joined the European Union and there are already stories of immigrants from those places coming to the UK for jobs. What I don't understand is how all of these people are allowed to come here and get work, while a member of the BRITISH COMMONWEALTH is being treated with such utter disregard. Here we have a person who is able-bodied and willing to work, a part of a country that still considers the Queen to be our Queen, yet he has to beg for a chance to work here. If Britain is so concerned about immigrants coming into the country and taking jobs away, then shouldn't the people who are a part of them be allowed in first? I just don't understand this at all...

The worst part about all of this is that it puts us back into limbo for another two months, which totally kills me financially and means that Jeremy is trapped doing nothing again. Had somebody told him when he sent in his appeal that things could take this long, he wouldn't have come back here so soon, and could have found a job for a few months before returning. I'm completely disillusioned and disgusted with how this process runs and wish there was something that could be done to fix this. It's completely ridiculous that it only takes 10 business days to find out if your application for a visa has been accepted, and that an appeal takes 2 months. Makes no sense at all. None of the people he talked to when he was in Canada bothered to tell him about this - even when he said he was returning to England on December 20th and needed to know about his appeal as soon as possible.

As it stands now, there isn't even anybody he can call to discuss this. Nobody to help. Nobody who even gives a crap that people like ourselves are going through a horrible situation because their system doesn't work. It costs GBP 1.90 a minute just to talk to people about your visa application, and from what I keep hearing they are of no help, and basically give you the runaround as the charges to your phone company rise. Not one person has shown any caring or concern about our situation.

If it was possible, I'd just move home. While I'm enjoying living in London, I really don't want to keep dealing with all of this. But now all of my money is gone and once we find a less expensive place to live, it'll be all about saving money, trying to pay off some of my line of credit (and hopefully my parents), until I have enough to move back to Canada. Unless some miracle happens and The Tribunal decides to let him know soon, we're out of our cozy little home.

Okay, enough about that.

The rest of the week has been really busy for me. I was back to work on Wednesday, where the teachers at our school spent the day in meetings and organizing ourselves for the next term. Wednesday was about displays being put up or pulled down, lesson plans and weekly plans written, classrooms tidied up, resources put into cupboards, and chats over cups of tea about the things to accomplish before Easter. For me, it was also about where I would be teaching next week.

The teacher I've been replacing since mid-October was supposed to return on Monday. With her return, I would be working in the Nursery (with 3-4 year olds), which is the equivalent of Junior Kindergarten in Canada. I've been really nervous about this change, since it would be a move from classroom teaching to working with really little ones who have never gone to school before. I've spent several hours talking with the teachers who have worked in the Nursery (sounds so weird calling it that - the name makes me think of the baby rooms in hospitals), so I have an idea of what's expected of me. The Head teacher was going to send me to a 4-day course for Foundation Stage teachers but now he's not sure that there's any point. If the teacher I'm replacing doesn't return soon then I'll probably get to stay with this class until the end of the school year, and she'll work in the Nursery. This solution makes a lot of sense because she's been trained already to work with this age group, has done it before, and if she needs to leave the room or get something done during the day, there are other adults in the room as well so she can leave briefly if necessary. Apparently it's a lot more laid-back, which would also be good for her after such a longterm illness.

So we'll see what happens.

On a happier note, here part of the post I'd started writing about New Year's Eve in London:

January 1st, 2007

In London, Big Ben’s chimes were relayed by sound systems along the banks of the great, gray River Thames. Crowds flocked to the banks near the Houses of Parliament to watch a light show countdown projected onto the 443-foot London Eye Ferris wheel, followed by a 10-minute fireworks display “big enough and loud enough to be seen ... all over the capital,” Mayor Ken Livingstone said.

(See the rest of the article for the rest of the story.)

New Year's Eve in the streets of London was pretty much as we had expected: tons of people (mostly tourists) standing around drinking straight from various liquor and beer bottles, a few too drunk to stand / walk properly yet still managing to stay upright while loudly singing. Smoke and alcohol fumes filled the air along with the excitement that we all felt to be standing in front of a glowing Big Ben and listening to the bells in Westminster Abbey. Jeremy carried a backpack with towels to sit on, bottles of Coke, rum, and a few snacks. I did bring me camera and will post pictures soon...

Overall it was a fantastic evening and I'm still hungover a little. Looking forward to good things happening in 2007!

Happy New Year everybody!!

Hmmm... well so far not such a good start to the year, but I'll keep hoping that things will improve soon.