Sunday, May 13, 2007


I may have just accidentally joined a gym... And I wasn't even drunk (thanks to this stupid diet), so it could even, possibly, have been accidentally-on-purpose. However, the woman who showed me around wasn't manically enthusiastic, and seemed amused that I had a "real" job now. (She's missing out, not having surreal jobs.) I can feel the muscles in my legs from the machines and swiss ball exercise I did - my wife would be proud of me: I fell neither over nor off the swiss ball while anyone was watching! (Maybe it's because I'm on the opposite side of the world - water goes the wrong way down the plughole, and I get to stay on the swiss ball...)

On Thursday we went up, to the flash university dining room, for lunch. Diet shmiet; I ate grilled goat's cheese on rocket salad with sundried tomatoes and basil pesto, Irish lamb (the flavour was good, but I still think NZ lamb is the best) with champ and cauliflower cheese, and chocolate terrine with fresh berries and red wine sauce. There's nothing like a two hour lunch break with good food. Then on Friday I bought chocolate cake in for morning tea (which may have taken around an hour and a half). I'm so glad I brought it, because the women in the office had got me a spa pack (bath salts, body brush, shower gel, hand lotion) and a really nice looking bottle of Spanish wine! I was touched, because I was only there for about six weeks, and really feel like I didn't do very much work at all.

Before the final panic of I-hope-I-haven't-left-everything-in-a-mess-for-Clare took over I managed to accept my Galway cousin Hannah's wedding invitation, blag my way into a fully booked B&B (first ever instance of this, I was so proud), and buy wedding presents. Now all I need to worry about is what to wear. I spent yesterday after the gym appointment trawling round the shops. Did I mention how much I loathe shopping? The worst thing about the whole affair was Lara was sitting at home waiting for broadband man to turn up, being jealous!

Lara and I went to Hughie on Thursday night; my first experience of Eugene O'Neill. I really enjoyed it (not to mention the fact it introduced me to some new Miles Davis). The language was stunning, huge monologues by Eerie Smith that just gave me goosebumps; and the whole atmosphere was very Raymond Chandler. There was a question and answer session with the director and actors that we went to afterwards which was interesting. I went to one at the film festival last year, and I found that if there's no-one to direct them they kind of fall flat, because the audience are scared of looking stupid, and the directors are usually fairly uncomfortable. There were a couple of students who had read the play at this one though, so that wasn't a problem.

We went to the All-Ireland Poetry Slam on Friday night, where Chloe Poems (who reminds me a little of Gerald Manley Hopkins) was the MC. It was hilarious - like the stand up comedy nights I used to go to in Welly (but with more poetry). The poets got riotously drunk, and I came home not stinking of ashtrays, because the smoking ban is in place - wohoo!

The weather is looking fantastic, so I'm off out there to make the most of it. I finally got hold of Connor at the recruitment agency, who told me that Russell has been off sick all week, and that he (Connor) thought he remembered an e-mail (which he now can't find) saying that I should turn up at 10am on Monday. Ohhhhh-kaaaay. This may encourage me to go to the closing night of the Arts Festival this evening...

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Oooh ooh I actually have a real job!

Not that I've either seen or signed a contract, but meh, details. I got a letter in the post on Saturday morning from INI saying "blah blah, regret to inform you etc.", so that's that. After all the fuss American Dynamics made about getting a decision from me, I would have thought that the contract would have arrived the next day or something, but I still haven't seen it. I start on the 14th of May, which gives me one more cruisey week here. Mark, the Head of School, is off in America until the 14th, so there's really not that much to do here apart from answer the phone and tell people that he's away. Possibly just as well, because I've just started a diet (and I'm joining a gym on Friday - ooh, can hardly wait!), which is very high maintenance, and requires me to concentrate: eat every three hours, weigh and measure stuff (food, not currently me). Gargh. Still, the indecisive bit of me quite likes not having to decide what I want to eat every meal time. The decisive bit winces at the thought of two low alcohol beers a week - which I shan't drink, on principle.

I have pics from a while ago, that I've been meaning to put up.

First blood donation presentThis is what I got when I gave blood the other day. I can't believe they seriously think it's a "charming fallacy". It seems a bit morbid to me...






Random Fruit Salad team mascotThis is the team mascot Lara made for us on our first ever pub quiz. (It was originally a swan, but I added fangs.) In case you can't read it, the labels say "Random Fruit Salad Mascot", and "Random Fruit Salad Cake Tin". (I ended up buying one, rather than making a tin foil to Lara's design.)




Grass Jelly *drink* this has got to be good for you.I was shopping in the local Asian warehouse place, when I came across this. I had to take a picture for Superman and the Aphid Lady. We had a can of Grass Jelly (plain, not in drink form) sitting on our fridge for months at Tinakori Rd. No-one ever had the temerity to tackle it. I have to admit the closest I've got to this incarnation is a picture, the basil seed one is a little more tempting...

In latest ablutory bulletin

The shower is kind of fixed, i.e. you can run it more or less on full power without it overflowing, and with no visible signs of water in the kitchen; but if you want it to be hot, that's a rather different matter. You need to have the heating on for hours, which makes the house like a roasting pan, because all the windows have been painted shut, and most of the heaters have lost their taps. Still, the whole standing up thing to wash your hair is a huge improvement.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Bolek and Lolek rock

We made a wee effort and went out last night; the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival has just started, and there's a bunch of stuff we want to go to. We were thinking of moving on to the Kremlin for some dancing, but that was before Lara started working out in the absolute sticks (a.k.a. Limavady), which requires her to get up at half five in the morning. We went to McHugh's, for the free Polish buffet, but spent too much time sitting outside drinking beer, and by the time we made it to the basement the food had all gone. (I did get a gherkin, but it didn't taste any different from the ones you get in NZ.) They had the coolest fillum playing (with dance music over the top). These lads are my new favourite people! The basement had no reception for vodafone, though Lara's coverage was grand, and I think it upset my phone so much it went into hibernation, because it was still refusing to believe it was connected with the outside world when I (eventually) went to sleep. Fortunately it was over its little tantrum by the time I got up this morning.

Have to admit I was a little sleepy this morning, so I picked up a coffee on the way in to the office. Of course the cup was defective, so I had to drink it really quickly, and burnt my tongue. I also have coffee rings all over my desk too (because I didn't notice it to start with). Gives it a nice lived-in feeling.

Apparently Luke-the-landlord is sending a plumber round today. Neither of us is holding our breath (just dreaming of showers). Lara decided to play hardball with him the other day - she sent a text saying that we were sick of the shower not working, and the cold water tank overflowing all the time, and the toilet leaking into the kitchen, so we were going to call a plumber, and take it out of our rent. He called straight back, and said "But I thought the shower had been fixed." Ha. We'll see.

Long weekend this week, and the Belfast Marathon is on Monday, and finishing in Ormeau Park, which is just up the road from me. I might go out with a hipflask and laugh at all the crazy people.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007


So the Invest NI interview didn't go that well... The little three minute test (spelling and punctuation) was grand - even if I did want to change the Lisbon Convention to the Lisburn Convention (I've been here long enough!); but the whole behavioural interview thing fell to pieces when they started asking me things about why small to medium enterprises would want information on line; or what they would expect to find on a site. The man who was asking these questions (there was a panel of four) had the body language of an accounting text book, so I couldn't even tell if I was on the right track! Gargh.

I asked when they're likely to make a decision, and it's not until the end of the week (they seemed to think this was moving super-quickly), so I just called Russell, as promised, and he's off sick. Someone may get back to me, but otherwise the stalling thing will have taken off on its own momentum. If they do call back I'm definitely accepting the position; I don't have the best feeling about the INI interview at all at all. (Lovely building though!)

On the upside, the cake turned out well - it was very chocolately and coffee-ish, but not enough to keep us awake for the pub quiz. Last night was a somnolent one in Rossmore Ave. Hahah - we must be getting old!