Monday, September 27, 2010

Bit of an epic week

I’d have to say that this past week has been an eventful one, and fortunately everything except the cold that kicked in this afternoon has been quite positive.

1.       I’m gainfully employed. On Thursday whilst preparing for a job fair I received a call from Arch Anglez with an offer of a part time position in their central office. They have several beauty counters in Debenhams and Boots around England and Wales and need help with their daily operations. They’re really nice people, the pay isn’t rock bottom and it’s a cool company. I started the job today, and so far it seems like a decent gig.

2.       First proper electric practice with the band. We plugged the Panda in and things are sounding pretty fantastic. We rehearsed in an old former church on the grounds of a defunct mental hospital in Carmarthen (BC isn’t alone apparently). The inside is elaborately decorated with brickwork apparently done by former inmates. It looks more like a tube station than a church, except for the dusty pews and old pipe organ. Musically, it’s so great to hear songs written over the past year come to life, hear with the boys have been working on and what they bring to the material that’s already there. We all left feeling pretty exhilarated. Now we just need a proper singer and a vocals certainly won’t do!

3.       I moved into residence, albeit one day late thanks to some bad chicken eaten by my chauffeur. Fortunately his lovely parents drove me there the following day. Operation De-Dormify is now nearly complete thanks to a new area rug, mirrors and drapes. Only 3 of the 6 rooms in my flat are occupied, but both occupants are very sweet.

4.       And last but not least I ran my second half marathon in record time, which isn’t that difficult when the first one was run with an injury and on very little sleep. There were only about 100 runners and the run started with a samba-led parade from Pembroke castle, down the high street to the start line and took us along stunning coastline, lovely rolling hedge-rowed farmland, ancient castles and wooded groves. The downhill bits led to angry IT band that made me almost drop out halfway, but a bit of a walk and a lucky dose of Don’t Stop Me Now by Queen from one of the Race Marshall’s car stereos helped.

This coming week will include registering for my courses, working, band artwork, a Pink Floyd and hearing a song I wrote played for the first time on BBC Radio Cymru (C2)

That, in a wordy nutshell, is that....aaaaaaaaaand scene.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Prologue Continues

Oh, how I hate job hunting. Over the past week I’ve submitted at least 3 dozen resumes, most of which were for jobs I had absolutely no interest in. The economy in Swansea is apparently more crap than I had anticipated. It makes me feel a little at home seeing a thriving retail centre filled with a handful of destitute unemployed, possibly homeless people. Ah, urban decay. That being said, I did just leave an interview for a job that I would define as decent, to possibly a good gig. We’ll see what they say when they call with their final decision, but I have as good a feeling as I could about it.

So the job hunt has been more or less ‘meh.’ So what else have I been up to whilst in Wales...other than eating too much that is? Well, I’ve been fortunate to have enough time to pursue two of my current passions. I’ve been training for my next half marathon this coming Sunday...and by running I mean two 6 mile runs and plenty of carbing up. The other bit of funness has been getting Sleepy Panda Club up and running. Gruff and I have spent a couple of good solid days refining and polishing songs, audition singers and jamming with the boys. Things are starting to come together...hopefully we’ll have some audio samples on MySpace soon.

The agenda for the rest of the week: Run, secure a job, and move into my dorm!

Monday, September 13, 2010

So far so good

I’ve been away from Canada for less than a week, and I’ve got to say the transition has been super easy and more than a little fun. Classes haven’t started yet, and I won’t move into my dorm for two more weeks, so really I’ve been on a glorified vacation that starts to end today. In the next hour I’ll be attending a registration for my intro to Welsh course, which will be meeting two mornings a week for who knows how long. Following that I’m going to hit the pavement and look for a part time job in Swansea...the more mundane and simple the better. Although I waited tables for 5 years, and worked retail for a short while after high school my years in post secondary support have cast a rose-coloured veil over the reality of such jobs and I currently have a romantic idea of working in a coffee shop or boutique. We’ll see how I feel about that if and when it happens!

Prior to arriving in Wales yesterday I spent three fantastic days in London doing a bunch of stuff that I’ve wanted to do but never had the chance on any of my previous trips. I arrived on Thursday and settled into my hostel after a mandatory trip to Marks and Spencers to stock up on salads. After a short nap I dusted myself off and headed out to meet my expat friends Jess and Heather in Shoreditch. It was Heather’s birthday and she arranged a gathering for her massive mob of friends at a neat little foosball bar. I’m sure I was far from articulate, and my foosball skills were atrocious, but I did manage to last until around 11pm before the feeling of being on a jet lag rollercoaster caught up to me and I headed home.

Friday I walked an epic 11 miles around London. I started near Regents Park and walked to Westminster Abbey (and refused to pay £15 to get in when going to a service is free), then crossed the Thames and walked the South Bank to Borough Market. OMG I heart Borough Market! It’s a food lover’s paradise. Local and imported meats, raw French cheeses, decadent baked goods, ready-made delicacies (such as the boiled potatoes topped with oozing freshly broiled cheese scraped directly off of a massive wheel of cheese, served with a side of gherkins) and stalls serving local beer and cider, and imported prosecco in takeaway cups. These lunchtime indulgences motivated me to keep walking, so I continued back across London Bridge towards St. Pauls. Again, refusing to pay to look around I carried on my way back up to Camden to enjoy the array of seedy and trendy shops and stalls at the Stables Market. I then met up with my local friends Philip and Juliana for a delicious Lebanese meal and a wonderful visit.

Saturday started with a nice sleep in an intense visit to the Imperial War Museum. I highly recommend this to everyone. I spent my time in two of the most powerful exhibits I have ever seen. The Holocaust exhibit alone is well worth the trip to Lambeth. It’s one of the most concise and extensive portrayals of the atrocities of WWII that I’ve ever seen. I spent 2 hours in it and made it about ¾ of the way through before overload set in and I had to leave. Outside the exhibit was the entrance to a 30 minute film about war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity...because the Holocaust apparently wasn’t enough I decided to give it a go. Wow. Disturbing, horrific and powerful. Well worth a view if you can handle the cold, harsh realities of what humans continually do to each other. I left the museum and thanked my lucky stars that I was born when and where I was. This day fittingly wrapped up with the highly acclaimed, and in my opinion overrated play Warhorse. The staging and puppetry were amazing, and made the show, but the story was a bit weak, most of the characters were one dimensional (save one German officer), some of the acting was surprisingly weak for a West End show, and it dragged on...sort of like this blog post!  

My London adventures wrapped up on Sunday when I boarded the train at Paddington for Wales. Now the next leg of my journey begins.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Here I go again...

To quote the poetic words of Whitesnake, “Here I go again on my own.” I’m sitting by myself in the post-security food court at YYC waiting for my overpriced, delayed charter flight to the UK...and I’ve just given myself a lovely mental picture Tawny Kitaen rolling around on the nose of the aircraft...but I digress.

I said goodbye to the last and most important people last night (that would be my family) and thanks to a 2.5 hour flight delay I got to say goodbye to them all again today. Saying goodbye over a meal (my family does everything over a meal) meant that also I also had the opportunity to enjoy one last Canadian breakfast, however I instinctively ordered tea and ham rather than coffee and streaky bacon. In hindsight I probably should have taken the opportunity to indulge in our delicious North American heart attack inducing version of bacon and some good all-you-can-drink coffee, but I’m sure I can learn to enjoy different fatty or caffeinated indulgences over there. The other added bonus of being delayed is it gave me time to get my new presumably fraud-free Visa card in the mail at the 11th hour...not that I should use it much whilst on leave from job.  

Anyway, my epically overweight luggage is checked and I’m $400 poorer thanks to it, but at least I get to enjoy all the added benefits of flying “Premium” class. Yay! A warm wet facecloth and some generic wine...but that’s the price you pay when you insist on taking all your shoes overseas on a discount airline. My luggage weighs 10kg less than I do. I’m just impressed that I can lift it all to find a UK chiropractor.