Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Force of Nature

Just putting some more art out there - from my archives. This is a pencil sketch of Tyrannosaurus Rex -the King of the Dinosaurs. Drawn in 2003 in a sketchbook while staying at a run-down hostel in Belfast, Ireland. Click to enlarge.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Cadbury Chocolate Factory

Yesterday, some friends and I finally went to Cadbury World - the original Cadbury Chocolate Factory! After almost four months of living in the next village over (Harborne borders on Bournville), I decided it was time to spend the 13 pounds (~$29!!!) to experience the world's first chocolate makers.
Here in Birmingham, The Cadbury Brothers experimented in creating the best tasting and highest quality chocolate possible and succeeded in 1904. The key was adding a glass and a half of milk!
They built the existing factory outside of the dirty city, and named the area Bourneville. The Cadbury family valued their workers so much that they built houses, churches, and schools - a whole town - for them, and were one of the first companies to give their workers benefits, sick days, and fair pay!
The Cadbury Factory instantly reminds me of Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory, and I wonder if there are any Oumpa-Lumpas inside... The smell of chocolate hangs thick and sweet in the air as we head inside and line up for tickets.
I have also heard rumors of free chocolate from the locals I have asked. Mmmm...Free Chocolate! Did I get any? Well, by the time I left, my teeth and tongue hurt, I was high with sugar, and my pockets were heavy with 5 bars of chocolate I didn't pay for!
On the tour, my friends and I (above) will witness the story of where chocolate stated (Aztec Civilization) and follow its path through the Spanish Empire, through Victorian Europe, and finally to Birmingham and the Cadbury brothers - all through fabulous interactive displays.

We watch as chocolate is actually made in the factory, and robotically packed in the packing plant. The smell of chocolate seeps through every pore of your body and clothes, and I will return home reeking of the sweet stuff. A bit like the Friday night cigarette stink from the pub.
Chocolate was first used as a drink for the wealthy, famous for its healing properties! We were given a cup of melted milk chocolate and I began to feel better right away. Cadbury World is a bit like Disney Land, except everyone is on a huge sugar high!

I meet the man himself - George Cadbury - and check my glasses as well... Soon, we are off on a Disney-esk slow car ride through Cadbury Land - inhabited by chocolate beans.

Here are chocolate beans in a house. The whole ride (like It's a Small World, but with chocolate-bean-people) was SO surreal, I felt like I had passed out with the chocolate smell and the sugar high, and dreaming....***
***...hello, Mr. Bean're round and brown! green grass though....***
***...hello Sultry Bunny...what are you doing here....advertising mascot?....oh....***
***Whew. The ride ends and I wake from my dream. We then pass through the "Happiness Room" where you can try the "special Cadbury dance floor" Hun?... Then the advertising room, which shows TV ads from the 50's to the 2000's.

The tour -not surprizingly- ends in the huge gift shop, which sells every type of Cadbury's chocolate you could ever want for cheaper then the shops - including a 5 kg bar of Dairy Milk! Mmmm... I leave with 12 cream eggs, a large Dairy Milk bar, and my dignity!

Certainly not worth the 13 pounds, but if you subtract the free chocolate and the complementary psychedelic experience, then it would come to something a bit more affordable.

I leave Cadbury World feeling a bit sick. I really enjoyed myself, but the smell of concentrated chocolate for 4 hours really got to my head. On the way out, I notice this sign:
Perhaps it isn't the chocolate smell at all!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Flight Bought

Just a quick post today to let everyone - especially those in Vancouver - know that I am coming home for a two week visit at the end of May! I bought my ticket last night and am arriving on May 18th and leaving on June 1st. During my time home, I will be going to my cousin (Theresa's) wedding! I will also want to see all my friends and family and go out and catch up! It will be nice to have a dose of Vancouver then.

After which I will return and work until mid-late July. Then the fun starts, and I go-a-travellin'! Anyone up for La Tomatina in Spain?!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Family Christmas Photos

50 posts! Bond's Blog has been online for over five months and we've reached the 50th post today. I want to use this post to celebrate with photos of the family I have here in England. Many people have been asking to see them, so here we go!

OCTOBER 24th 2006 - SHOWstudio's BAL MASQUE -
While I was in London in October, I stayed with my Uncle and Aunt Tim and Mena (and cousins Yasmeen, Escandar, and Rocheen). Tim and Mena were invited to a Masked Ball by their friend Nick Knight, a famous fashion photographer! Kate Moss was there, along with other fashion celebrities. Click here to check out the Ball Masque! (photos and video)
What I found most amazing were the costumes my Aunt and Uncle wore to the event:

Tim and Mena in full costume!

Mena ringing for a taxi.

Actual SHOWstudio website photo - Mena sneaks in on the left!

Fetching hat, Rav!

My Grandmother, Nigel and Joyce (Dad's other brother and wife) on a visit.
Where are your costumes?

I traveled to Guilford for Christmas this year and stayed with my cousin Nicky and husband Rav. Nicky's sisters (Angie and Lara, and boyfriends Tim and James) and mother Elaine (and husband Richard) were also there. We went for a pre-Christmas Eve stroll in the typical English countryside and I discovered a new technique in photography!
A Walk in the Countryside - with Angie, Nicky, Elaine, Lara, Tim, and Rav.

A path millions have traveled.

Elaine and her girls - Lara, Angie, and Nicky.

New photography style - the Spin Shot!

The Swirly Forest

Spinning Angie!

The aforementioned family awoke Christmas Day to see that Santa had arrived and been very kind to us all! We enjoyed the morning and the wonderful turkey dinner (including a nice vegetarian option!)
Christmas Day at the Lally's

Poor James is confused. Lara's here to help!

Merry Christmas, Tim and Angie!

James and Rav play the Worms Game.
(Too bad there aren't pictures of the Cup Stacking Game!)

Richard vs Turkey. Richard wins!

In the Kitchen - Elaine and Lara!

Thanks for a fantastic first five months and all you comments to these 50 posts. Please keep them coming!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

I am doing fine

Well, it's been a week since I've left Jervoice Primary School, and I feel much better. I thank everyone so much who have emailed me and left comments here. This week I've been working at a smaller school (close to Jervoice) - a school with the strangest name: there is nonsuch a school as Nonsuch Primary School! Yeah, a strange name, but a happier school.

I feel the same good buzz I felt last year while substituting in North Vancouver. I had forgot how much I enjoyed TOC-ing! I am booked at Nonsuch for the next week as well, so they must like me too.

Tomorrow night, I am going for drinks with some of the Jervoice teachers - the good ones. It should be very interesting to hear the gossip of what's been happening this week. Leaks of information hint that the parent and kids were unhappy of my "leaving," that another teacher (assistant Head, no less!) has taken a job elsewhere, and that moral is so low that many teachers may not be there after Easter!

And with Ofsted (government school auditing body) to visit any day now, the school looks in bad shape. Depending how the Ofsted assessment goes, the school could potentially close - worst case scenario...

Anyway, with my newfound flexible job, I am planning to do more traveling - Greece at Easter, Ireland for St. Patrick's Day, and Spain in August...


SMP's pantomime Robin Hood and the Singing Nun is in Hell Week now, and opens next week! Break a leg, Guys! Please go and see them - it will be a fantastic show!

This is my t-shirt logo design in stitches! Looks funny/cool!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Inspiration from U2

This amazing video from U2 makes me happier every time I play it.
Either it is the unusual but highly addictive song or the technically amazing splicing together of musicians! I don't know...but I love it.

I've seen Frank Sinatra, George Harrison, Paul McCartney, Louis Armstrong, The Who, Elton John, Elvis, Elvis Costello, Jimmy Hendrix, Chili Peppers, Beck, The White Stripes, Jimmy Page, Victor Borg, Ray Charles, Simon & Garfunkel, Bijork, Bob Marley, Ella Fitzgerald, Johnny Cash, The Ramones, Nat King Cole, and David Bowie!

Who have I missed?

Saturday, January 13, 2007


My life this last week has been a trying one with many changes. Since returning to my year 4 class after two weeks off, I have been very stressed and unhappy.

This last week has seen the return of another problem student to my class, Joseph. His return sparked most of my other students into misbehaving, resulting in chaotic lessons, fighting children, and a stressed teacher. You would think that a school would support a teacher who's class was difficult, but instead the Head (Principal) reduced my Teaching Assistant's time in class. She took away my support!

During this time, there was also a definite loss of respect for me as a teacher from my students. More children got into trouble and were sent out, good children started to push the boundaries, and my directions were met with complaint and defiance. My 'joy of teaching' was disappearing and the support I asked for wasn't forthcoming.

On top of this I was told Wednesday - not by the Head, but by another teacher - that I would be observed the next day. Not surprisingly, the observation did not go well as my students decided to act up (I had only had Joseph in my class for one day before the observation!) I was tired, stressed, frustrated, and angry with the way the Head was handling the situation. By Thursday night, I was thinking about leaving.

Friday morning rolls around and I am asked to meet with the Head. She sat me down and told me she had to let me go. Not for any real reason, but that she "has to be seen to do something," as the school was to be audited any day.

That's not all - Not only was I to go, but my students were to be split between three classes (one 4th year and two 5th year classes). Not only are students now in the wrong year, but friendships they've made over the years in my class will be destroyed. The three teachers getting my students are of coarse less than happy, and will have to work harder to teach both levels.

What makes me laugh is that all three of my miserable children (Joseph, Skywalker, and Jodie) are being put into one of the year 5 classes! All three in one class - Worst Decision Ever! I can't wait to hear what happens next week!! Hehe!

Here's the real clincher though: the Head told me not to tell my students I was leaving. She said she would tell them that "something personal has come up in Canada, and that he had to go back." Biggest Lie Ever! What happens when I run into one of my students in the street? "Sorry Child, your Principal lied to you!" ??? That's not all! She had me release my class, then hide in the staffroom so that none of the parents could ask "difficult questions!"

How do I feel now? Pretty good actually. One hour after not saying goodbye to my students, my agency (TimePlan) called to book me as a TOC - teacher on call (supply) - for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday! Obviously no lack of work in Birmingham.

I will greatly miss many of my co-workers (they are already invited me for drinks next Friday!) and I will miss many of my children, but I will not miss the crap - excuse my language - going on in management.

I like Birmingham, and I plan to stay longer. The new year brings the winds of change and I plan to ride it - to find something more worthwhile of me.

Thank you for all your support!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Liquid Nitrogen can be fun!

I am very excited about this post, as I have created another short film called "Mr. Bond's Adventures with Liquid Nitrogen!"

Our story begins during my trip to Munich for New Years. I was staying with Nathalie and Toby for a night to see their beautiful new baby boy, Elias. I was delighted to see that Nathalie's parents and her sister Stephanie (check out her blog on the right) were staying there too. The surprise was that my good friend Dave was there too! And with Marianne in Munich, it really was a "small world after all" for New Years!

What does this have to do with liquid nitrogen, you might ask? Well, it so happened that Nat and Toby wanted to make ice cream for desert that night. Ice cream usually takes hours to make with huge industrial freezers - we had neither time nor freezers. We did have a plan though: Toby works in a physics laboratory which has many chemicals at hand. Ice cream can also be made by mixing the ingredients with liquid nitrogen! With nitrogen boiling at - 200 degrees Celcius, it was certainly cold enough to make ice cream...but why stop there?

After the ice cream was made, we still had quite a bit of the chemical left, so we thought we would do some experiments! What happens to leeks, pennies, and twigs when they are put in liquid nitrogen for a while? They freeze and shatter! Well...the penny didn' just got cold. We saved the best for last - but you will need to watch the film to find out!

The film takes you on a rollercoaster adventure through Munich, as Toby, Dave, and I collect, bring back, and experiment on liquid nitrogen!

My favortite part of the adventure was where Dave had to sit in the backseat of the car with the cylinder of liquid nitrogen between his legs! Good thing we didn't spill, or there might never have been any little Daves in the future!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

My New Year's Celebrations in Munich!

Photos from New Year's Eve 2006 in Munich, Germany, with Marianne and her friends!!!