Refresh Montreal style

I just got the most amazing Christmas messages from the old Montreal gang, I hope they don't mind me sharing them with you:

Hi beloved Montreal gang, I wanted to wish you all a very merry Christmas and all the best for the upcoming year. I hope all your wishes will come true. One of mine is having Poutine (even fake one) with all of you next year. I miss you and our crazy evenings. Long live Café Campus, Beer, Poutine and most of all, our friendship. Cya, Amin

Aww Amin what a lovely message! I miss you guys too, sometimes on a Tuesday night I think we really should be at cafe campus
- nowhere else compares! I think about Montreal pretty much every day and miss it a lot. fingers crossed we can find a time and place for us all to meet up in 2009 and reminisce about La Banquise and ski Saturdays and parties and pitchers of beer...good times! Hope you all have a great Christmas and a happy new year. Keep in touch. Jenna x

Makes me love them just a little bit more hehe and I didn't think that was possible! Merry Christmas.


To the zooooooooo

Bliss and I had been planning a Christmas trip to London Zoo. We were not disappointed:

We saw Sheep (almost as good as Llamas)

And Leopoards

Bliss especially liked the Parrots

But she felt sorry for the Zebra with a skin condition

We even saw them feeding the Penguins

Okay, so we didn't make it too the zoo. We got stuck on a train 20 minutes outside Bath where we sat and had to amuse ourselves for almost three hours. It seemed like a good idea at the time to pretend our possessions were animals... why do things always seem like a good idea at the time?



Bliss and I (along with whoever we manage to coerce into coming with us that particular week) have been regulars at a running club (SweatyBetty) for a while now. However life just got a whole lot better, not only are we going to be members of a free running club BUT from January we are also going to be taking ballet lessons for free too. I'm seriously loving Bath for its quirkiness and brilliant exercise store marketing campaigns.

I used to take ballet lessons as a child but my mum stopped taking me after a while because she said I had about as much coordination as an elephant. Consequently I could justify the purchase of the following American Apparel leotard: yes I am special and will probably still look like an elephant but hey if I stand still long enough I might just be able to pretend I am a ballerina!!!



Christmas dinner was lush (if I don't say so myself) and nicely accompanied by Harry's slightly camp specially made Christmas CD. The only mini disaster we had was the bread sauce which ended up tasting slightly like charcoal.... and lets just say I don't think the pan is ever going to recover.

Ollie refused to eat his compulsory sprout so he ended up voluntarily downing the leftover gravy. Necessary punishment I think.

Term has now finished but I'm staying in Bath for a week or so to hang out with some new friends:




When Nicola and I were running on Sunday (with terrible hangovers) we came across a snowy field of llamas. I have not been this excited/happy in a long time! Cannot believe how beautiful they are :-D


I wish I had something interesting to actually inform you of but alas my life has probably never been less interesting. The highlight of my week was getting into a fight with a man in the library because I had twenty books on Economic and Monetary Union and apparently I was "monopolising resources." Probably true....

Its been a bad week for parties, when I mean bad I mean its been a bad week for work because there have been too many parties but hey you can't win them all. So far this week I've managed to find legitimate reasons to go out dressed in a 70's Afro wig, a gentleman's top hat, thigh high American Apparel sports socks and a Christmas tree outfit with functioning lights.

We went to a SILENT DISCO on Friday in an old theatre in Bath and it was totally amazing! If you don't know of the concept (thank you Glastonbury) basically dancers are provided with wireless headphones which can be tuned in to listen to a DJ (there are numerous channels so you can swoop between DJ's if you don't like the song one DJ is playing). The concept of a silent disco earns its name because any outsider walking into the event would see a venue full of people dancing, yet hear no music, hence silent disco. It's sooooo strange but a wicked night.

Ohhh and I'm making a documentary. This is a documentary in the loosest sense of the word as it will be filmed on my digital camera most probably in my back garden but a documentary all the same. I'm filming my dad talking to trees (yes I did just say I'm going to film my dad talking to trees) for an ecology project and although I seem to bore most people to death when I talk about it I'm geekishly excited about starting. However on second thoughts the excitement is probably linked to the fact that my dad is probably going to look like a real tit ;-)

We're having a practise Christmas dinner run though on Wednesday which is quite exciting. I've never cooked a proper Christmas dinner before and I'm a bit worried about what exactly you're supposed to do with the turkey (bit of a major issue I'm thinking seeming its Christmas dinner) however I'm sure Delia will get me through it nicely.



Burn baby burn

This year I am a international student mentor at my University which basically means ramming as many cultural experience's down the throats of unsuspecting foreigners. Our first meeting was at the pub (assez anglais) but then I started to run out of inspiration and we ended up at Wagamama's for those traditional English stirfrys ... cough. So obviously when Guy Fawkes night came around it was a great opportunity for me to do something typically English with my group of mentees. Everyone is told the story of how Guy Fawkes, leader of the Gunpowder Plot, (an elaborate attempt to blow up Parliament and assassinate the Royal Family in the 1600's) was caught and burnt alive on a bonfire. Then every year on the 5Th of November we celebrate with firework displays, toffee apples and a bonfire with an effigy of Mr Fawkes. But I was a bit stumped when Louise (my Dane) asked me what we actually celebrate, the fact that he didn't blow up Parliament and the King was saved or the fact he almost succeeded ... I was totally stumped, so I looked it up! Apparently until 1859 it was compulsory to celebrate the fact our King had been saved, a mini English thanksgiving and since the law was abolished tradition has just taken over. Anyway enough of the history lesson, last night the fireworks were AMAZING and can't wait for the second round at the Uni firework display on Saturday.


Trick or treat?

Halloweeeeeeeeeen was great this year after we decided to fully embrace the face paint. My permanent position in the library meant that little time was available for costume purchase or costume making however we managed to successfully recycle some previous outfits with a spooky twist, I would like to introduce you to daemon Minnie Mouse and the mute mime twins. A great night was had in Poo's where we accidentally on purpose got involved with some serious karaoke action and recreated all the fun times we used to have in Club Date (whoops sorry Canada reference!!!).

Bath was also embracing its spookier side this week when the Roman Baths opened to the public at night, lit only by flaming torches. The effect was really amazing, the water was steaming and it had such an erie feel to the place and although the photos don't really capture the ambiance I'll attach one anyway.

ALSO I CAN'T BELIEVE I ALMOST NEGLECTED TO MENTION the fact that Bliss and I ran 6.02 miles in 45 minutes on Sunday along the Canal pathway, that's like a quarter marathon. Even Ollie seemed impressed with our times and has asked to join in with the elite squad ;-) his trial period will be taking place over the next 10 days. We've also joined a running squad which goes every Wednesday....I no longer think I'm obsessed, I actually am obsessed!!!

I still really really need a hair cut...


Becoming a machine

Bianca left our midst a while ago now on her mission to become a RAF machine and oh how we mocked her. Well obviously someone "up there" was listening because I have been coerced into the Bath Half Marathon in March of next year by both Bliss and the other residents of the basement flat. The fact I have to pay £35 race entry to personally inflict pain on myself never mind the small fortune that has been subsequently thrown at bright pink lycra and pimped up running trainers ....... hummmm totally going to live to regret this ....... or so I thought!!! I've become a little obsessed and although we have a serious long way to go (exactly 20 weeks and 1 day to be precise) before long I'm quite sure that we'll be on the way to become the dictionary definition of MACHINES. And if not, then I'll have a jolly nice collection of lycra to show for my efforts.

Mia sorella

Chlo is currently on school holidays and residing in the Basement so my week has been spent walking our newly adopted RSPCA dog Summer and eating Marks and Spencer cookies.

I am totally unabashed to admit that we went to see High School Musical 3 and ever since I've been repressing the urge to burst into spontaneous dance routines on buses and suchlike. We went for dinner at Opa, the underground Greek restaurant and post dinner Chlo was force fed sambuca (Greek style) to hilarious consequences. I miss her already however my workload appreciates the fact that she is currently on a train back to York.



I'm starting to sound a little Montreal obsessed. I sincerely apologise. This will be the last post that mentions it for a while, PROMISE. But one of my Quebecois friends from exchange made a brief 24 hours visit to the St James basement flat this week so I kinda have to mention the Q, the C or the M word.

Jenna and I met Bich in a Canadian superstore when I was yelling the death exclusion clauses on slides (or if we are being American; sleds) to Jen who was two isles over trying on ice skates. Apparently we were funny and our accents more so and we hit it off.

Food was a main theme; in fact it kinda tends to be a major theme for me at the moment. I think I was mainly trying to see how many cups of tea I could force down her throat in 24 hours; turns out quite a few. And I must have converted her because she headed back with a box of 80 Yorkshire tea bags in hand which she purchased of her own accord :-) Apart from food we managed a trip to the Royal Bath's and engaged the usual Johnny Depp and Nicholas Cage spotting in The Circus and Royal Crescent. And before I could muster up a "tabernac" she was off on the train to explore London.

Jen and I have promise to make a trip to Copenhagen before Christmas where she is currently on exchange, so watch this space because my passport might be getting abused sooner than first thought...

On a completely random tangent, I really really need a hair cut.


Its been exactly four months and 16 days since I left Montie, consequently its four months and 15 days since I ate my last poutine. Well people, you will be pleased to discover that the drought is over. One rainy and dull Sunday afternoon triggered the culinary adventure (via Sainsbury's) to recreate one of Quebec's finest inventions. If Jen and I can't be in Canada then Canada will have to come to us.

There was never really any hope that we were going to find cheese curds in England so we had to settle for mozzarella but compensatory Oreo's made up for the lack of squeaky cheese. Flour, milk, Tabasco, oil, chicken stock and seasoning are apparently your basic poutine sauce ingredients .... here goes nothing!

After 40 minutes of careful and loving stirring the poutine sauce finally looked a little less like baby vomit and more like we remembered. Poured over the chips and mozzarella with a few beers to wash it down you could been forgiven for mistaking my living room for the famous Banquise restaurant.


Life in the tub

The point of me starting this blog was to help me remember Canada and if I’m honest gloat about the coolness of it all but weirdly since returning home at the start of the summer I’ve really missed writing it. So at least until my fourth year work load makes me want to cry and abandon academia forever I’m going to quite happily continue to twitter away.

Summer was great; I spent a few months working in Italy with some old friends (whilst also acquiring some great new ones) and the rest was belated family time spent either on Gozo or in the UK where my house went through a huge upheaval/rebuild and is almost finally finished after what seems like years or builders and plasterwork.

Having been back in Bath for a few weeks now the reality of the next 30 something weeks is now beginning to hit home. Work might actually have to take place this year, SHITTER! At least for the first time at Bath I’m enjoying my courses; massively geeking it up with “Thinking About Sustainability” whereby we’re challenged to think whether “we” have to choose between economics and the environment and there is a huge about of credit crunch chatter in my other politics and economics modules which is so interesting but kinda overwhelming.

Being back is great however Jenna and I probably spend far too much time talking about Canada and are even going to attempt to make poutine tomorrow evening in ode of all the good times in Montie. My house is really quirky and so close to town but living with Ollie, KT and Harry is soon going to have its drawbacks as we constantly seem to be consuming tea, cake and wine.

I've got friends from Italy, Canada and then my sister coming to stay over the next few weeks which is going to mean lots of parties and tourism; it's not quite my exchange again but its going to be just as fun. Until next time...



This image is pretty self explanatory (just click it to enlarge); the larger the word the more I use it on my blog. I think I need to branch out on my use of adjectives because I clearly have been abusing "amazing" a bit too much this past year.


Home sweet home

One of my favourite comedians said recently; "Americans who travel abroad for the first time are often shocked to discover that, despite all the progress that has been made in the last 30 years, many foreign people still speak foreign languages." Yet after the past month I am proud to say my opinion about our relatives over the pond has seriously changed. Our trip round the States was AMAZING, in fact the last year has been like the most amazing year ever and better than we ever expected when we moved to Quebec last August. (In fact I'd even go as far as to use the adjective sentational....Jen, Cat, Nicole that one's for you.)

Home.....England.....I suppose rain is OK, my mum nearly almost has a jam packed fridge of nice food that Canada just doesn't have (ie good bacon and semi skimmed milk) ohh and I can jay walk like there is no tomorrow with zero fear of a $50 fine. And an additional plus, I manged to make it back with 60 kilos of luggage when my allocated weight was only 20 (lets just say this smile gets you anywhere, including a free upgrade onto an earlier British Airways flight back to your rents).

I miss Canada lots, I miss Jen (already haha), and HEChange, and Jean Talon Market and poutine....and yes I am slowly falling into a reverse culture shock induced depression but for the next couple of days at least I'm unbelievably happy in my OWN bed with on tap Yorkshire tea, my foul mouthed siblings and crappy weather.

England baby...I'm back and Montreal... it's not good bye just more a case of see you soon


Viva Las Vegas

As they say, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Therefore according to the rule I shouldn't really tell you anything on pain of death. However as nothing really debaucherous happened maybe I can tell you.... that is unless this is a double bluff and I'm secretly covering up our evenings of card counting on Black Jack tables and European strippers by pretending that nothing "really happened." I guess you'll never really know right ;-)

In short Las Vegas was totally amazing, like Disney on acid full of adults where anything can happen and it really does. Jenpen and I were joined by two other Green Tortoise members; Cat and Kim (let me just make a note that we were now onto the four week mark of travelling together and Jen still hadn't had to take one of her "walks" she threatened in the beginning because I had driven her crazzzzzyyyyyyyyyyy). Our Hilton hotel room was AMAZING after sleeping on the bus all week, also the fact we had a fully working shower which we could use hourly if needed was lush after not washing in 6 days (ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww). Also we managed to get upgraded to an even lusher room which on paper would seem impossible as at check in I was wearing a cagoule and sporting unwashed 6 day hair.

One of the most amazing Las Vegas memories has to be the best freebie of all time; $375 Cirque de Soleil tickets thanks to my legendary flatmate Rhi. Having carried around our ball dresses and high heels for weeks just for this one event there was a massive amount of expectation....and we were not disappointed. We went to see "Love" which is The Beatles musical done on a 360 degree stage with breath taking acrobatics and amazing stunts. I don't think I closed my mouth once in the whole two hours it was that good and too add to it we had some of the best seats in the house.

I went to Paris, Venice, and New York all in one night (I'm an expensive girl to keep) and drank 99c margaritas which were NASTY. Jen and I then discovered Fat Tuesdays (Ol had taken me when I stayed with him in Philly and lets just say I don't remember making it home back then and it was only 4 in the afternoon) and along with the crazy alcoholic slush puppies they sold and happy hours at many a famous hotel we were soon on the way to a REAL "fear and loathing in Las Vegas" experience. Unfortunately we did sing karaoke (much to the horror of Las Vegas but it was in ode of the Queen Bianca of karaoke) and then Jen fell asleep in the toilets for a while whilst I made friends with a drunk Japanese old lady We also saw a massive amount of celebs, alas my American sporting culture sucks so I didn't really have a clue who half of them were but we saw the Rock filming in one of the casinos and were serenaded by Elton John in Planet Hollywood :-D.

We hired the ULTIMATE car to drive to the Hoover Dam, a convertible white Mustang, nice times nice times. However having only ever driven India (and that was over a year ago), never mind an automatic or on the other side of the bloody road it was going to be an interesting road trip. Having made it squeal horridly as we pulled out from the car hire place (I didn't realise you couldn't rest your foot on the break) the drive to the dam was an ultimate Thelma and Louise experience (without the dodgy head scarves). Jen chickened out of driving (unless you count her numerous laps round a car park in Red Rock national park) which was understandable after what happened when I was driving over the dam (we don't mention it because car hire companies have ears)!

Unfortunately neither Jen nor I came back from Las Vegas as millionaires, however on the more positive side at least we didn't come back married. Although I have to admit doing a Britney would be an amazing dinner party story....

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