Month: March 2007

The more I see – the more I know. The more I know – the less I understand

I think Paul Weller wrote ‘Changing man’ in Slovenia.

This week I lost my wallet (again) my car started making loud ticking noises from the engine and 2 of my already small number of lessons were cancelled.

However, old trusty (my 11 year old freebie wallet) came back to daddy, one of my students pointed out that my exhaust has fallen off the first cylinder of my engine (thus causing the loud noise) and I acquired 4 additional lessons. I’ve also been treated to lunch at Neja’s parents in a small village outside Lj and had dinner with Silvia and Danielle in Italy. So, I mustn’t grumble.

Actually, bollocks – I am going to grumble. I was just queuing to buy a paper at the kiosk in town and when I got to the front the man behind me shouted his order and was promptly served – before me. That’s a sure fire way to annoy an Englishman. Another dead cert is to beep your horn loudly for no apparent reason which, seems to happen at least 3 times during any single journey. Can’t they see I’ve no wing mirror, I’m sat on the wrong (the right) side and my car is making a funny noise? eh?

OK, rant over. It’s Friday – time to start smiling again.

Werd up


PS, My favourite Slovene word this week is ‘Skuter’ which means… yes, you guessed it – scooter.

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Home sweet home

Home sweet home – Our pad on Tržaška Cesta

Roomie number 1 – Neja and D (in the Red)

Roomie number 2 – Dave (grinning) and some other dude

Thanks to for the photos.

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Europe Map Games

93% at level 7. Beat that!

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Expect the unexpected

Whatever you think you’ve ordered – you probably haven’t. I asked for a sandwich (sendviči) for breakfast the other day and got a lamb kebab. Nice! Today the waitress described the special as “A vegetable in a sauce with bread dropped in it” and, feeling brave I ordered it. I got a plate of deep fried cauliflower in breadcrumbs with Tartar sauce. OK, it wasn’t as bad as it sounds but I’m not sure how long I can take this ‘culinary roulette’. I think this might be a good place to start learning Slovene.

Breakfast. If you’re lucky it’ll be nice but, it could be anything!

Otherwise, all is good here and my weekly work schedule has increased from the size of an old Mini to almost the size of a new one. I have a regular 16 hours now which means a full 12 hours teaching. So, it’s fair to say I’m not exactly breaking a sweat or making a fortune. However, where a 38 hour working week covers my rent in Oxford, my 12 hours does the same in Ljubljana. So, I’m gonna enjoy my semi-retired status with trips to the gym, maybe some more hill climbing and as many coffee and beer trips to Žmauč as is healthy.

We had a ‘welcome to 39 Tržaška Cesta’ party on Friday and, to say it had an international flavour would be understatement of the year. The were 5 English, a French, two Slovenes, a Moldovan, an Uzbekistani, a Russian guy and cheeky Russian girl called D. We took our international posse to Emonska where we met some Dutch girls, a Scot, a Welsh, an Irish and a guy from Venezuela. A few of us ended up in Global where we met a Serbian and a guy from Montenegro. Me and Jaimie finished the night eating Burek with 3 Bosnians.

With the exception of Neja, Sunday was totally English and ended with a curry.

OK, so that’s about all for now but I’ll try and update this a little more often, I mean, what else do I have to do? Oh, and if you’re still bored I think Pete’s updated his blog too.


PS. Whatever Ajda tells you, it’s not advisable to tell an Italian girl that she has cow’s eyes!

PPS. For an alternative view on expat life in LJ there are a few other Johnny-Foreigners with cool sites. See the friends links on the side.

PPS. Rumour has it that Nick’s landed a job in Costa Rica. Good luck our son.

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Back on the gravy train…

Well, it’s very weak, watery gravy but there’s no granules out here. I have a whopping 8 hours of teaching spread over a stressful 2 day working week. So, I haven’t earned a penny for 8 weeks, I’ve spent a fortune and now I’m earning Slovenian peanuts. Hmmmm, I wonder what I’m doing sometimes.

However, my eternal optimism hasn’t been dented yet and I can hardly complain about the last two weeks here. Since we got back from Skiing, I’ve moved to my new room, climbed two big hills, drank a lot of coffee and had the odd night out in between.

My room is in a shared flat, 5 floors up an apartment building with a balcony but no lift. I’m sharing with Dave (another northerner) and his girlfriend Neja and it’s really cool to have people to talk to, news on the telly and an oven in the kitchen. I’m still mildly disturbed by the balcony but I’m coming to terms with the 300ft drop.

The Hills
Hill number 1 was called Smanjska Gora (or something similar) and gives you a stunning view over the whole of Ljubljana and the surrounding valley. Unlike most Slovenes – I’m not built for 700 ft, almost vertical climbs on a Saturday morning however I felt good for the exercise …kind of.

Hill number 2 was more ambitious but less strenuous. This one was set in the northern Alps but, despite being told 73 times – I cant remember the name. Anyway, this was a full family outing and involved a trip to Celje to pick up Matt who’s from …yes, he’s from Oxford. Actually, He lives in Bicester and works for TVP in Abingdon. I’m starting to think that I didn’t come here out of choice – it seems to be a collective mindset that’s taken hold in Oxfordshire. Anyway, we had a good day and my legs took another good beating.

Hill number 3. OK, there is no hill number 3 however, high on recent achievements we’ve all agreed to climb Mt Triglav in the summer. This 3000ft hill is the highest in Slovenia and climbing it pretty much makes you a citizen.

I’m sure I’ve been doing lots of other stuff but, as always, the memories run to the darkest corner of my brain (they are pretty dark) and hide whenever I sit in front of a PC. I have learnt the odd thing or two. Firstly, it’s traditional in Slovenia to remove your shoes indoors and don some fancy slippers. Don’t worry if you don’t have a pair with you – you’ll be given the guest pair. Secondly, all Slovenes wear pajamas and thirdly, the Slovene word for brother is ‘brat’. Very apt in my case. Oh, and ‘Jedi’ means ‘for the bbq’ but I challenge any Slovene to bbq Joda.


I guess I should record this as I had my first ever lesson yesterday and they might ask me about it when I’m famous. I was teaching at 3pm at the Institute of Health for Slovenia and had a 1.5 hour conversation class with the director of the department for compulsory health care. The offices are modern, huge, well equipped and damn fancy. My student was very friendly, very experienced and she was happy to ignore complicated grammar rules in favour of a good long chat. It went well. Next up was a session for a large software company called Hermes Softlab and with the addition of 1 extra student – the description above applies. I like this job.

Me, Dave, Neja (my new housemates) and Simon at the top of a hill somewhere near Ljubljana. You can’t see it but my legs are killing.

If you drive a right-hand drive car in Slovenia, you know how this tree feels

A waterfall and a sign that says something. Any guesses?

Little snowmen – they live in the mountains

Can you spot the snowmen?

The sun tries to reach us through the trees

I’d make a good Shepard

Simon would make a good mountain goat

Watch your step. Steps leading to (and from) safety.

Where do you think you’re going?

Little snowmen ride on car bonnets

Beard report, it’s two weeks old and getting itchy.

Would you shop in this sale?

Thanks to you lot (or those of you who pay tax) – The British Council in Slovenia has books, DVD’s, The Guardian and free Internet. Don’t worry though – we’re saving money on the Embassy – it’s floor 5 of a tower bloc.

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Young Pedro seems to be enjoying his travels in Columbia. Go easy on the sap rub pete.

I’ve a new pad but no job. The beard got the chop but I’m working in a new one.


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My face

I’m trying to decide if I should re-claim my face and loose the beard. Maybe I’m just bored. Any ideas?

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Who’s done an Austrian?

Bearder’s back! Back in the real world and free from the all-consuming CELTA work load. You’ll be pleased to hear that I passed and Cambridge Uni have honourably certified me to teach the Bearder drool to the rest of the world. Next time you hear a Slovene say ‘pass ve wa’er’ you’ll know I’ve been hard at work.

Now, before I continue, I have a few apologies to make. The first of these goes to my long suffering ‘old boy’ (Dad) because, once again – I forgot his birthday. For 29 years he’s been consistently good and remembering mine and I’ve been as consistent at forgetting his. So, once again Dad – Happy Birthday and sorry it’s late. I won’t say how old you are but, although your still more than twice my age – I’m narrowing the gap.

The second apology goes to almost everyone else and that probably includes you. Since spinning-out on the autobahn, popping in on Liechenstien and then driving through a very long tunnel en-route to Slovenia, I’ve pretty much ‘gone underground’ and hidden from the real world and all it’s responsibilities.

Cooking, washing, shaving, daylight and communicating with people (sending emails) were all forgotten as I morphed from social human to stressed out Celtoid. So, I’m sorry to everyone who I’ve seemingly ignored – its not because I don’t love you – it’s just that I don’t care. Sorry, I mean it’s just that I had too much to think of! – I’m getting old you see. However, please don’t cross me off the Christmas card list just yet, I do love you – I just need a little more time to find a job, and a house and a tax number etc etc and I’ll be back in good social form and I’ll be in

OK, spineless grovelling over – now it’s back to the important business of writing stuff on here simply because I can.

So what’s been happening.

1 CELTA. It’s hard, intense, fun, bizarre, long, engaging, well run, badly graded, odd, useful, transferable and lots of things in between.

2. Everything else…

Everything else has been squished in the gaps between lessons and assignments but they’ve been alotta fun.

Two weeks ago a good friend called Adam Riley arrived from sunny Oxford and we went skiing in Cerkno which is somewhere in the Alps – the other side of a town called ‘Skanky local’.

We had a good day skiing and then a good night drinking with some bugs, some devils, some pregnant angels, Dorothy, the Lion with no courage and the tin man and most bizarrely of all – Vicky Pollard!!

It seems that pancake day creates more than a surge in Jiff Lemon sales here in Slovenia and the crazy fools designate a whole week to dressing up. We celebrated the last night of this oddness dancing with some Christmas presents at a student ball.

Adam took some of the best photos I’ve ever seen on a phone camera and then lost his phone. Good work Adam.

The following week was the last one of the course so it was a little intense however, we all passed and no students were harmed in the process. The course tutors, us (the students) and some other ‘real’ teachers hit the town for some local Slovene nosh and the odd Lasko or two. Amounst other things we discussed travel, the wrongness of the way Nick pronounces puppies (said like poppies) and the great understatement in the name ‘bridge of sighs’ (should be the bridge of ahhh ahhhh arrrrrggghhh noooooo ….I’m innocent)

With the course out the way we decided on a road trip to Bovec (pronounced Bovets) for few days of chilling, eating and skiing. The hour and a half drive there took us through a long tunnel (getting used to these now) into Austria, accross into Italy and then back to Slovenia.

Now, in Slovenia, like a lot of other places in Europe, you have to pay a toll to use the motorway. This is annoying but not too much of a hastle as they stop you in the middle of the road, take your 1 euro 60 cents, laugh at your silly English car and wave you off. Not in Austria though – Austria has a toll but doesn’t (insert endless expletives here) tell you about it. No useful toll stations in the middle of the road, no signs – nothing. In fact they only tell you about it 10 minutes later as you attempt to cross into toll-free and much friendlier Italy. 120 Euros that trip cost us. ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY hard earned euro and not a cent less. I suspect they’ve worked out that this is the most efficient way to shaft unsuspecting foreigners and raise money so when they are old they can take train journeys (recall last experience of Austria) and sit and tell English people, to their face, how much they hate the English.

As you can imagen, Austria has been used as an expletive since then. Anyone who farts has ‘done and Austrian’

The rest of the trip was superb though (see photos below) and the Alps were just as stuunning as I remember. We travelled on the longest cable-car I’ve ever been on (all 7km and 30 minutes of it), drove alongside the emerald green Soca river and even popped back into Italy for a drive and a spot of lunch. I also chilled out (literally) by the first frozen lake I’ve ever seen and successfully navigated some of the windiest roads. If you’re ever in the region, the Trenta valley is a must. Also, if you’re ever in Slovenia and your hungry, get yourself to the nearest Gostilna. Until now I stupidly avoided them thinking they were posh, expensive places. How wrong I was. Translated, I think gostilna means “Place that sells a large range of top notch (and large) local dishes, has good service, a friendly atmosphere, bread and olive oil whilst you wait and will not cost you more than 10 euros for a meal and a beer”

So, fully relaxed and without any broken bones, I’m back in Lj, still in the hostel and looking for work. Actually, after two successful interviews on Thursday and Friday I’ve been given my first real assignment. I have a whopping 3 hours next Thursday. It’s a start, but I’ll be kipping in the car unless I get some money soon so I better keep looking. Talking of cars, my exhaust has started ‘blowing’ in the wrong places so that’ll eat a few euros.

What else is new? Oh I’ve met a lot of other teachers and random English people here in Lj and even met a paralel me. James Henderson left his job in Oxford, studied a CELTA course and arrived in Lj at the end of January to look for work. He’s a good lad and a better blogger than me. You can read his experiences here. Until now I’ve given Mr Henderson a fair amount of greif for choosing (he did it himself) to spell his name ‘Jaimie’ with the extra i. However, It’s just dawned on me that I spell Edd with 2 d’s – and it’s not even my name. Oh, if one co-incidental meeting wasn’t enough, I also studied the CELTA with a girl called Bethany who has a best friend who’s currently studying on Dad’s Masters course. Small world eh?

So, as it stands I’m liking:
No TV for five weeks
Not having a job
The food
The beer
The mountains

I’m not liking:
No TV for 5 weeks
Not having a job
Not having a kitchen
Not being able to see everyone at home

Things I’m planning on next:
Finding somewhere to live with a kitchen and a TV
Finding more work
Emailing everyone to say hi

Be good

A very long tunnel in Austria.

Those funny things in Liechtenstein – we stopped there so Pete could ‘claim’ he’d been there. Alas, the hotel I stayed at last year was closed so we continued…

Dirty and tired, but in one piece Obi (the car), me and Pete arrive at the Slovene border

Alpine relief in Cerkno

Nick aka ‘Nobby from Biker Grove’ thinks its cool and funny to drink red wine and orange juice. Why would you do that?

The Soca river. If it wasn’t close to freezing I’d probably have jumped in.

Chilling by a chilly lake

Team UK (Jaimie, Green, Nick and Simon)

Jiaimie – He drinks ‘Mad Bat’ energy drinks and goes out at night

The line shows where the snow stops and turns into rain. We had a very wet night

Stunning view – somewhere between Bovec and Kranjka Gora

Mountain Eddy

The best beer in Europe – possibly the world.

Skiing in Kanin

Jiaimie after a Mad Bat. Actually he’s angry because we arrived at the end of the 7km, 30 minute cable-car to discover that the Ski rental shop was back in the town. We did dome extreme cable-caring that day.

Don’t jump

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