I've just been watching University Challenge, where my two friends from CTYI, Matt and Marty, soundly beat the other team (something like 345 to 125). I thought it was pretty impressive that three of the four people on their team were Irish, doesn't that make you feel proud?
Actually I was having a look at the UCAS website the other day and somehow ended up reading a paper on how they had worked out the UCAS equivalency of Leaving Cert CAO points. I was pretty impressed to learn that they reckon each Leaving Cert subject is worth two-thirds of an A-Level, considering we take twice as many LC subjects as A-levels, so taking eight LC subjects is like taking five-and-a-third A-levels. And, even more, a A-Level A grade is only worth a B in the Leaving Cert! I feel pretty proud of the Irish education system right now.
I cycled in and home again today, and my back hurts again. I did stretch so I feel frustrated that it's sore again, but maybe it's because it was so cold. The damn weather forecast promised me there were only going to be occasional showers in the north of London today, but it rained pretty solidly from about two minutes after I set off (ie just too late to change my mind about cycling) until about five minutes before I got to work. Liars.
Monday, November 24, 2008 | | 0 Comments
Today I foraged. I think Andy and I are bucking the trend that people spend less and less of their income on food. After accommodation it is probably our biggest expense. Today we found an additional way to spend our money on food: Abbey Mills now has a full farmers market!
Mostly it's the chappy we already buy our meat and veg from, but he has spread out so he now has about four stalls: one for his delicious meat, butter etc, one for veg (which he has much more of now), one for bread (again, a much bigger range) and apple juice, and one for cheese. And he has been joined by an additional cheese stall, an olive oil stall and, most importantly, a fish stall! So we bought beef and cheese and bread and lots of veg and oodles of fish, it was just so exciting! We barely need to go to Sainsbury's at all now.
Then we went to Wimbledon to buy exciting things like spaghetti measurers, but the most wonderful thing was that we went for a wander around a department store and found the Ted Baker coat I've been wanting for a couple of months (harking back to the days when I had no money). But it was £200 so I wasn't sure if I could justify it. Until Andy spotted the sign saying 30% off. And then the shop lady came over and said there was a further 20% off just for this weekend! So I got the most wonderful coat half price! Don't you love pre-Christmas sales?
Now I'm sort of regretting not getting my Pashley Princess bike, don't you think the coat would have gone with it perfectly?
Saturday, November 22, 2008 | | 1 Comments
So I'm not really sure what to say -- I haven't done anything very exciting in ages. Work trundles along, and we get visited most weekend which is one of the plus points of living in London. This weekend, for a change, we don't have any visitors so Andy's going to do job applications and I'm going to clean the flat and buy some food and make lunches for the week and maybe drag Andy to Hawkin's Bazaar so he can buy Secret Santa presents for his colleagues.
It's due to snow in London on Sunday, so it felt a bit festive in work today, everyone excited about Christmas. I booked our work Christmas party today, too. We're going to a very trendy Brazilian place -- there's just so many places to choose from you have to narrow it down somehow, so we came up with some diverse options like Christmas pizza, plain Christmas and Brazilian Christmas. I was surprised there were still places available this late, but I suppose the unfortunate souls working in the City probably won't be having Christmas parties this year. I anticipate the Fast Stream rising to the top of the graduate jobs list next year -- public sector is the way to go.
Is anyone else really enjoying Heroes season 3? Oh it is SO exciting, I just can't wait until next week. And a new season of Big Bang Theory too! Isn't autumn/winter exciting?
Friday, November 21, 2008 | | 1 Comments
Now that I have a semi-functional internet connection I suppose I should get back to writing here. Like Sam, I probably shouldn't talk about work except to say that it's pretty good. I'm particularly enjoying being challenged to achieve a lot -- expectations are high but they're very keen that you take every opportunity available (training, school visits, seminars etc) and I've been given lots of extra projects to do in addition to my everyday work which adds a bit of interest.
I'm settling into life in London now we're in our own flat. It really is a lovely flat; it's nice when people come to visit and are taken aback by it. It is a bit far from work but we have started cycling in a couple of days a week (our muscles aren't really up to doing it every day yet) which makes the commute so much nicer. It's hard to motivate yourself first thing in the morning, and there's quite a long hill approaching Tooting Common which makes me quite out of breath but I feel so much more awake and invigorated by the time I get to work. It is hurting our lower backs quite a bit though -- I hope it's just a case of strengthening our muscles a bit, then that back pain will stop.
It has taken a few weeks to feel settled and willing to do things in the evening after work -- initially I was just so tired I wanted to come home and sit on the couch all evening. But this week we've started to be much more sociable. On Wednesday Andy and I met up with his friend Lindsey to watch the fireworks on Clapham Common. There were about 100,000 people there, which meant it was a bit of a nightmare getting home on the tube afterwards. The fireworks were quite spectacular but they had attempted to set them to music and hadn't really succeeded.
We're off to see some more fireworks this evening at the Lord Mayor's show: we originally intended to go see the show/parade itself but it's a really wet day and we got up a bit too late to get a good viewing spot so we decided not to. The fireworks should be nice though; we're meeting up with Sam and Sav to watch them too.
On Friday I went to the DCSF choir for the first time. It was really good fun; the conductor is very energetic and musical, and he warmed us up thoroughly beforehand which was great since I haven't really sung for a long time and was going to go sit in the alto line as last time I had sung I had struggled to reach the high notes. But I was nabbed and told to go be a soprano, which was good as there are some quite good sopranos, and with the thorough warm-up the high notes were fine. We sang some lovely carols, most of which I hadn't come across before, including one written by the conductor's brother and sister especially for the choir!
Now just in case I don't get around to writing for a while and you need something else to read, go read Nudge by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein. It was recommended to us by the permanent secretary during our induction, and it really is a good read. It's about encouraging people to do the right thing by designing processes to make the right thing easy to achieve instead of legislating or enforcing The Right Thing. It's sort of a mixture between economics and psychology and very well written. That should keep you busy for a few days.
Saturday, November 08, 2008 | | 1 Comments