Friday, March 30, 2007

Stop the press: I have a job!

Let the housecleaning cease! Hell, I'll drink to that... No, wait, I'm at work.

Who: University of Ulster
What: administrationy stuff
When: Monday to Friday 8:45am - 5pm
Where: Newtownabbey (don't ask, but it involves a bus)
Why: to keep my liver in the manner to which it has become accustomed

I'm still looking for something cool which is supremely well paid, but this seems fun for the moment. Oh god, I'm a commuter! The rat race strikes again...

Friday, March 23, 2007

Rock on Friday!

I applied for a million and twelve silly administration jobs yesterday, and some more today; and my lunacy has been rewarded - I had two more recruitment agency interviews today (I would be "Wohoo!" sarcastic, but that might jinx things). Both of them phoned and wanted to see me asap, but there was a Robert Mitchum fillum on Four at lunchtime, so I put them both off until the afternoon. It's all about priorities.

Having said that I made a bit of an effort (putting on a shirt with a collar and checking names and addresses) to go and see them, which (I hope) has turned out to be worth it. The second agency had a woman called Orla, who made me do tests: data entry (apparently I like to look at data from the left hand side, which I didn't realise - I wonder if this is related to me secretly wanting to be a lefty?) (No laughing, Farmside boy!) I deal with my left hand) and spreadsheets. Now I admit that I can make spreadsheets look pretty, but this test had things about preludes, or prefaces or premsomethings, and it scared me (a lot). The test was half an hour, but it didn't tell you how many questions there were, so I skipped all the scary ones, and finished in fifteen minutes. Unfortunately you couldn't go back and redo the ones you'd since worked out. However Orla said that it was a quite difficult, so they'd set the benchmark at 50%, and I got 72% (!!, thank you LINZ); and my data entry test was also good (astonishing, considering I've been playing on a Swedish keyboard for a month or so, and it was full of words like Buckinghamshire, which I've now typed twice). She was so enthusiastic ("We'll definitely have you a job on Tuesday") that I bought some wine (read: three bottles for a tenner) on the way home, and am totally going out tonight. [God, I hope this doesn't go wrong or I'll be selling the Big Issue outside the Parador on Wednesday.]

Lara's off digging in Cavan on Monday for a month (minus weekends), which means no 'puter for me, and the way my finances look I can't afford a tenner an hour for the internet cafes round here, so there won't be any blog updates for a while anyway (unless I land a really cushy job) - doesn't necessarily mean I'm dead (just possibly (hehehe)).

On the upside, the BFG has volunteered at Action Cancer, and I spent all yesterday answering the door. He turned up not less than four times with (not in order):

  • a rug, which I imagine Shrek (the sheep) would look like dead

  • a peach table, with potential

  • a not-quite-working xbox (note: no caps - xboxes don't really deserve them)

  • random books (one of which has this on the back: "A feast of flesh and flagellation, a phantasmagoric vision of the past and future ... lays bare the scurrilous and titillating truth behind the romantic...", you have to read it for that)*

  • a strange thing called Scoobidoo (what it does I'm still unsure, and still don't care)

  • a Babyliss purple thing that does odd odd stuff to your hair with scary noises and flashing lights (batteries not included) (Lara and I both want the bag it came with)
  • crockery (including the coolest (for its extreme bad taste) plate with a cow chewing on a daisy)

  • and today a "radiogram" (don't ask me what it is, but it came with bad bad taste records (e.g. Crystal Gayle)).

The evening has degenerated into a who can do what to whose hair with the freaky purple Babyliss thing, and I need to go and drink more wine. Have a fab weekend!

*To win a night out with Mariella and her random friends: Be the first correct entry. Tell me who wrote this book, what its title is, and when it was first published. (Obviously getting to Belfast is not included, because I want to shout anyone who comes to visit me!)

Thursday, March 22, 2007

We got snow in Belfast too!

Snow on the daffodilsOn Mothering Sunday (which was the day after Paddy's Day over here) we had snow! I was very excited, and took pics; everyone else complained about the cold. I may have done some of that too, but having the fortune to be sleeping in a bed with a duvet this time (as opposed to Tipperary, where I was curled up in an ungainly fashion on a chair, without a blanket) I felt the thrill more than the cold. Regrettably most of the time it was wet, so the snow didn't lie, but I did manage to catch a car with some snow on its boot, and some snow in the garden. You can just make out the purple fence which Lara and I want to paint yellow in the second picture.

Actual snow caught on camera

Lara had some friends up for the weekend, and we all went to The Parador, which is just around the corner from us, to watch the Ireland vs Italy match (Ireland walked all over them 51-24). I decided to go to the bathroom before the match started, and was horrified to discover it literally swarming with small girls; all wearing pink, and all scarcely visible beneath six inches of foundation and blusher. It was a truly traumatic experience, especially when I realised that they were going to be dancing for us.

Irish dancingTo prove the it's not just New Zealand that does tacky on Paddy's Day, I took photos. Unfortunately none of the neonate came out (she was probably too small for the camera to pick up). The dancers were actually very good, but I had no idea they had to wear bouncy, curly wigs (heheh). The worst thing about the whole affair was I was out of beer (the route to the bar had become the dance floor), and they danced for, like, ages (at least fifteen minutes or so).

I just realised the other day that I completely forgot to have a pint of Guinness! How embarrassing. We arrived at the pub, having eschewed breakfast in favour of a beer, and started straight on to Smithwick's. I'm justifying it to myself along the lines of "It's Irish, and you can't get it in NZ"...

_More_ Irish dancingI've chanced upon a new source of hilarity for the weekends: BBC commentators. They're brilliant, I can't believe they haven't all been sacked. We were watching the England vs. France rugby match the other day, and a French player had been injured by an English lad. One of the announcers was talking about it, and ended his comment with "Oh well, I don't care, he's French"! Seriously; live, on air. Astonishing.

We've been making chilli vodka over the last couple of weeks which is a more complicated process than I had imagined. Apparently you have to add honey as well as chillies. At the beginning we threw a bunch of (small, in the hope they'd be strong) fresh chillies in, and shook the bottle periodically for two weeks. Last night we sieved the vodka, heated it quickly on the stove, then stirred in some honey; coughing all the while, because the heat of the chilli caught at the back of our throats - a good sign, I choose to think. Then, because I can't afford a funnel at the moment, we transferred it to the coffee plunger, and poured it back into the bottle. It looks a little like reisling or mead at the moment, apart from the fact it's in the freezer. We get to drink it on Saturday. Excellent...

I really really really need a job now; the Belfast Film Festival is on, and I can't afford to go! This is after I spent two days scientifically working out what I was going to see. Ah well, I'm sure applying for jobs will be just as culturally satisfying.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Not quite Paddy's Day

Keeping a blog is a lot more work than I anticipated... and I've done a bunch of stuff since I last posted anything. One of the most exciting (and I use the word advisedly) things has been attacking the "garden". I'm now slightly exasperated that I failed to take a picture before we attacked it with broken shears and enthusiasm. Well, the shears weren't broken to start with; rather like the neighbours' hoe...

The shears were discovered by accident in what the BFG informs me is an Ikea woodbox that we were using as a coffee table. It was how I imagine Lara would feel if she came across a skeleton (her current greatest wish), an oh-my-god-just-think-what-I-can-do-with-this... Well, as it turns out, take to the garden with it, and then sellotape the handle back on.

Large pile of unnecessary foliageThe pile of rubbish in the first picture doesn't actually look that big, but it's all been accomplished with the broken shears, and in the second one is the rose bush(!) that we didn't even know existed. Rose bush!A moment of extreme excitement, especially when I saw it has hips too (not to mention a waist). Oooh... distillery!

Having got thus far, the BFG and I were inspired to go and buy some more implements. Homebase is a great way to spend an afternoon, but rather expensive... I hate to say it, but a Warehouse wouldn't go amiss in Belfast. We bought a fork, trowel and cultivator (whatever that is) set and borrowed Lara's archaeologist trowel. Honestly, if you'd asked me to describe it, I would have said shovel for cleaning out a fire. (Ooops.) Anyway, not my first choice for digging out roots.

In fact so inappropriate the BFG went next door to see if the neighbours had a spade. They didn't, but she lent him their hoe. All good. For about five minutes... Then he broke it. (No comments please!) We took a quick trip back to Homebase to replace it, but they didn't have the same version, so we got a cheaper (but higher quality) one. I also texted Lara and got her to bring back a proper spade (I want to call it Sam) with her. Huge improvement, except that then the weather broke (most likely my fault this time), and we haven't got that much further.

After a little more clearing, the purple fence goes. It doesn't go with the red door (which you can almost see in the first pic). I want yellow, and Lara's on my side, so as long as it doesn't clash with the daffodils, we're on.

In other news today (and a bit of last week)
Went for two interviews at recruitment agencies, and applied for a National Insurance number (I expect this is a good thing, but I have no idea, in fact, what it is; more bureaucracy I expect. Actually it's not that great, I have to get up way too early for the interview on Tuesday.).

Tennant's is still on special at £11 for 20 cans (and we're talking proper 440ml cans here).

I bought a chest of drawers for my bedroom - wohoo: I have unpacked!

I bought a dracaena marginata plant for the chest of drawers.

She's still alive, and I have named her Nelly. (Not quite sure why.)

My bank card arrived in the mail, and I managed to get it activated. I'll have to upload a picture, because it really is pretty; almost worth its weight in platinum (or GBP).

I can't wait for Paddy's Day!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

I'm still alive

Even though I've been incredibly slack about posting recently.

Lara and I went out to Limelight on Friday night; we decided that it was about time we actually went out and socialised a bit. It involved me putting on make up(!), which was quite a mission, and even slightly dressing up - but nothing over the top: it's still too cold.

We were out last Friday in a place called Auntie Annie's with her bloke and an archaeologist friend, and got kicked out at 1am, which was a nuisance, seeing that we didn't make it out until midnight. I'd forgotten about the crazy licensing laws over here. This Friday we went out clubbing (don't laugh, ut romae etc.), so we could drink for longer. It was a highly successful evening, in that I managed to find myself a friendly native giant (6'8") (not quite the same as the BFG, because his ears aren't that big) who knows his way around town.

And I'm off to yoga with Lara this evening. I'm so scared - it being my first time and me not being particularly bendy, but it should be good for a laugh...

Friday, March 02, 2007

Mmm... cheesecake

Yesterday, in a fit of enthusiasm, I promised Gin that I would either send her an e-mail, or update my blog - I've been a bit slack on both counts recently.

You'll have to excuse the pics - I haven't worked out how to change the thumbnail size, make the alt text show up, or get the align the words to the appropriate image yet. Any suggestions gratefully accepted.

Inspired by Master Chef, last night Lara and I decided to make a cheesecake. We didn't really think through it too carefully, it was more a of "Oh wow, her cheesecake looks really good, let's make one of our own". We had planned to go to Saxon tonight at Katy Daly's, but the gig has been postponed until the 23rd of May, so we had some extra money. We started off by shopping for kitchen lightbulbs (£3.05 each), and then more or less guessed what was supposed to go in to a cheesecake: cream, cream cheese, lemons, sugar, butter. (We forgot things like sour cream and vanilla.) We also bought a whisk, which was quite exciting, though the pink bubbles to go with the cheesecake (or instead of, if it all went horribly wrong) were more so.

After we'd started we realised just how ill-equipped for the undertaking we actually were. No bowls, no food processor, no cake tins, an oven which door doesn't shut properly... (Although when I bought my chest of drawers yesterday Gerry said that he'd sell us a cooker for £100, including the delivery and installation, so we just need to talk to the clown - haven't seen him for a week now, and Luke-the-landlord.) We didn't let these impediments stop us, though we did consider writing a letter to Master Chef, to let them know the effect their show is having on the susceptible.

Mortar and Pestle This is how I crushed the gingernuts for the base. It would have been a bunch easier if the bottle didn't have a punt at the bottom of it.

Rolling pin This is how I flattened the base (the can in the tin is full and unopened).

Cheesecake!And this is the final product. It was really good. We decided afterwards that if we didn't drink it would never have been made.