Sunday, May 27, 2007

Teacher's comments

DSD has landed in London and is off to a racing start. In less than a week she's caught up with a selection of friends, been offered ample part-time work and found a place to live. I'm incredibly impressed!

Meanwhile, this was the week I had been waiting for to hear whether both of my jobs will continue when the new school year starts in September. It's frustrating to be in such an insecure position after being in the UK for a year and a half.

The good news is that both of them are going to continue, probably with exactly the same hours. Finally I can start thinking about what I am going to do over summer and book my trip back to Sydney for my sister's wedding in September.

And that's not the only positive work development of this week. After working at my main job since January 2006, I now have access to a shared set of keys that I don't need to return immediately after every class. Gosh. keys. I have really made it now.

And that wasn't all. My new boss visited the old men's class this week and they told her 'teacher very good'.

In the IT class, a new student announced 'I am so, so happy and I am never going to leave this class!'. On the sheet where students record what they learnt each lesson, she assumed that 'Teacher's comments' was an invitation to write what she thougth about me. Which was:

'The teacher is a wonderful person. He really help me a lot'.

I thought that made up for a little job insecurity. But when I told a colleague (in the finance department) she dismissed me as too easily pleased. 'If someone wrote that about me,' she said, 'I would just think they were being polite'. I'm glad I'm simpler than that.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

39 days

I can't wait until the ban on smoking in enclosed public spaces starts on July 1. I might even start going to bars and clubs and all the places I've avoided before because they stink. Maybe.

I just wish the ban was going even further. I hate having to shift to another part of the train/tram platform every time someone nearby lights up.

I took this on the way to work this morning. Attractive.

Monday, May 21, 2007


It's four months since I went completely gluten free. I'm feeling much better but still not perfect. It's supposed to take at least 6 months for the intestine to fully recover so I hope I'm almost there.

I think I have a good idea of what I can and can't eat but I finally get my appointment with a dietician next week. I've been saving up questions, like whether it's true that dried fruit is often dusted with flour to prevent it sticking.

So far I haven't felt like I've been missing out on anything (okay, except for the egg tarts maybe). The most annoying thing has been the embarrassment of having to be so fussy.

Since I went off gluten I haven't eaten anything in a restaurant. I might be overreacting but I'd just prefer not to have to worry about what might have gone on in the kitchen.

I went out to lunch with friends last week and though I'd just eaten at home, I ordered a fruit salad to lessen the awkwardness. It sounds crazy, but that was a big deal and I didn't feel good about it.

Coincidentally, our table was right next to the glass counter where the fruit was sitting. Even the proximity of the fruit salad to the cakes made me nervous.

I had noticed that there was no serving spoon in the fruit and I kept my eyes on the counter to see what they used. When the waitress opened the counter to serve my fruit salad, she picked up a pair of tongs that had been used for pieces of cake.

As she was serving, she dropped several pieces of fruit into the adjacent tray of cakes and rooted around to return them to the bowl she was filling. She then used the tongs to rearrange the cakes again before finishing filling the bowl with fruit.

So I didn't eat the salad. And I'm so glad for what happened. I feel so much less crazy.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Golborne Road

I have a bike buddy! Shekerim has a new bike and we practised her route to work today. It took us conveniently close to Golborne Road, one of my favourite places in London (photo stolen from a Japanese travel site!).

Golborne Road has so much to love. There is an Australian/Italian cafe and some great Portugese and Moroccan delis as well. I used to love the patisseries too, before my coeliac diagnosis. Hmm... must do some more gluten free baking soon.

We were planning to visit the Australian/Italian cafe but it was closed for renovation. We headed over to The Lisboa instead and managed to get a table for the first time ever. It is incredibly popular.

Shekerim declared the egg tarts the best she has ever tasted (that's my cappucino on the table).

And she wasn't the only one enjoying herself...

Golborne Road also has a great seafood shop. And Macanese style Portugese baked seafood rice more than made up for the tarts I couldn't eat. And before anyone maligns it, this, like the red bean soup, tastes much better than it looks!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


I'm quite proud that I've kept cycling in spite of all the recent rain. My raincoat wasn't protective enough so I've fashioned a nappy out of a very large plastic bag, to shield me from the water that flicks up from the wheel. Yes, people laugh but I stay cosy and dry.

On one particularly rainy trip my front brake self destructed. Buoyed by my success with the spare tyre, I tried to fix it myself but it was too broken.

Times really are good for bike shops in the congestion charge zone. The shop I took it to didn't have any vacancy for repairs until the end of June!

They did, however, run a 'first come, first served open surgery' on Saturdays. The lady in charge of the store advised me to arrive early and queue up for before the shop opened at 7:30am. Since I was going to be working nearby that morning, it wasn't such a sacrifice.

When I arrived at 7:20, there was a queue of three. As I neared the shop I could see a further five arriving from different directions. We all noticed each other at the same time and everyone sped up. Luckily for me, my bike was still rideable. Those who were carrying their bikes struggled along like the lame boy following the pied piper and ended up at the end of the queue.

The story ended happily for me because the bike lady put on a new set of brakes, made several other adjustments and only charged £23 for the lot. That's the first time in London I've been surprised by something being cheap!

Another reason to love cycling!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Taking shelter

It's been rainy now for over a week. Not good at all for bike riding, I've been soaked through several times. Not good for my plants either, I'll feel very relieved when they start getting some sun.

We went to Brick Lane yesterday for the Baishakhi Mela, a celebration of the Bengali new year. There was a lot of stuff to see but we got too wet and had to leave.

Instead we loaded up on snacks at Bangla Mart and went back to Mogfa's place where her French flatmate made masala chai. Yum.

Sunday, May 13, 2007


Eurovision last night was a travesty. Some of my favourites, Denmark, Belgium and Portugal, didn't even make it into the final.

But that was okay because the Ukranian entry, which was clearly the best, was the favourite to win. 'Lasha tumbai' apparently means 'churn the butter' in Mongolian but many in Russia were claiming that the lyric was chosen for its similarity to 'Russia goodbye'.

Singer Verka Seduchka had overcome protests in Ukraine by a radio station and politicians who didn't want to be represented by a drag queen. Triumph, scandal, hilarious dance moves, ridiculous lyrics and a catchy tune - it was a recipe for Eurovision victory.

But alas, I writhed and screamed in front of the television as Serbia surged ahead, leaving Ukraine in second place. My only consolation was that the shameful UK entry finished equal second last. Here is Verka churning the butter/saying goodbye to Russia:

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

My garden

Monday was a bank holiday and although I taught in the morning, I took the afternoon off to visit a garden centre in Kensington.

I got a little too excited and ended up buying 3x80cm troughs, 76L of compost, 5kg of stones and two trays of plants.

76L of compost does not get you much sympathy on the bus. It's nothing like having a baby in a pram. No one moves for you and you get very dirty looks if you get too close to anyone.

I arrived home exhausted but keen to set up my garden straight away. It's been really cool and cloudy this week but I'm hoping that the balcony will soon be awash with orange and violet blooms.

I've also treated myself to the new Björk album. I'm not really qualified to comment on it yet as I have become obsessed with track 3, 'The dull flame of desire', and hardly listened to anything else.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Happy unmother's day!

My apologies to any Australian mothers who received their greetings one week early. I would like to point out that the chain of misinformation originated in Jeanie, I was just an ignorant link.

Lacking any other cause, I chose to celebrate red bean soup instead.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

My neighbourhood

Confidence is going up in the old men's class and the results are hilarious. This week we did a survey activity as part of our 'My neighbourhood' unit...

Where you live?

- Portobello.

Is it busy?

- Busy? (someone intejects with an Arabic translation of the word) Aah! Oh-kay! Busy! Yes! Before congestion charge busy. After congestion charge, no busy.

Is there a supermarket?

- Supermarket. Yes.

Where supermarket? Portobello no supermarket!

- Yes, Tesco supermarket!

Is there.... a... park?

- Park? oh yes, park! No park. Portobello no park... aah! one small park.

Small park? Maybe no park! Park big. How many people your park? Three, four people no park.

- No. Fourteen people. This park.