Friday, August 11, 2017

Off day...

Ridiculous first world/first world girl stuff vent. Allow me to get it off my chest.

This whole menopause thing pretty much sucks. I've never weighed so much in my life, but I'm not overweight although I feel it. It's mostly bloat - I feel bloated enough to float away some days! It's so frustrating. Literally the only pants I can fit into at the moment are my yoga pants, and even they're starting to become slightly uncomfortable.

And I'm fatigued. So tired I can't even think about thinking! I'm in that cycle of feeling so fatigued I just want to sleep and feeling like I've got permanent PMS, so I'm eating mostly sugar and salty (you know the drill, chocolate then chips, chocolate then chips, etc.) and then feeling worse than ever. I KNOW - genuinely, honestly, intellectually and realistically KNOW - that it's not helping. Not even a little bit. In fact, it's making things worse.

I'm contemplating another No Sugar programme, but I have enough recipes for about 3 cookbooks worth (plus three ACTUAL cookbooks) that I'm already not using, so will probably forego that and simply try to find the motivation to do it on my own.

I'm feeling frustrated that real estate feels entirely out of my reach, in every respect - my cousins and I were commiserating the other day. Even they, with a good income and dual incomes respectively both said that if they were trying to get onto the ladder now, they're pretty sure it wouldn't be possible. That makes me feel a BIT better. Certainly, though, my sister and I are feeling frustrated, feeling it felt easier in Canada, although I'm not sure that's necessarily the case anymore (depending on where you live). Whitehorse was more or less out of my reach at the time I left - I was lucky I had a fantastic landlady who valued quality tenants over rental income. My sister is getting fed up with moving around constantly but is in the position of needing a steady job to get accommodation and needing accommodation to get a steady job. I'm slightly ahead with the steady job, but it doesn't get me much further ahead as there's honestly not much out there. I've printed off paperwork to apply for council housing, but there are years' long waitlists for that although if I don't put my name on a list, I'll never be eligible. Southampton, for example, has a 7-year waitlist for one-bedroom accommodation.

I suppose I just feel I should be further ahead than I am at 50 and lodging with a cousin. You know?

Searching out people I've gone to school with doesn't help either. All the ones I've found are Successful and have Real Jobs and Careers (thanks to my mother to comparing us constantly to 'better, smarter, more polite, nicer' kids while we were growing up).

I'm bored and kind of fed up with my job but am feeling loyal to employers who are, overall, very good people. My quandary: I want to move on, but I simply don't know what I want to do.

Plus I went out for dinner last night and ate way too much. W-A-Y too much. So I'm feeling fat(ter) now.


But these moments always motivate me - to an extent - to try to do things differently, make some changes, etc. Sometimes it even works. I know I need to change, it's just picking the thing to do first.

This'll pass. It always does. I'm really yearning, though, to have my own space again - wholly, totally, entirely my own. But what I have to gather right at the moment is patience. Another year and I think I'll be closer to that. I keep looking, and looking is fun, which keeps me going.

Thanks for the ear!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

A few days off

I've had a few days off, nothing in particular planned, but just because I have some holiday time to use up and sometimes it's just nice to not be at work for a few days. I'm back to work tomorrow for a short week (that will likely feel twice as long!) and then don't have anything else scheduled until my trip to Edinburgh in September with Jane.

I've sorted stuff out to put towards a car boot sale that my cousin and I are going to do at some point next month - clothes, a few books, random items like a bike basket, some throws, etc. I won't make a lot of money, obviously, but the point is to clear some bits out and a car boot sale is as good a place as anywhere. Whatever doesn't sell will go to charity (unless it's complete rubbish). There's a local one that runs every Sunday and has a £5 fee for vendors which is reasonable.

I had an appointment to view the flat in Fordingbridge last Thursday as well but have rescheduled again to Saturday, Aug 5. I just couldn't be bothered to go in all honesty. I'll go and see it but after crunching some numbers I can't afford it anyway, unfortunately - not if I want to eat! A shame, but going to see it won't hurt and will give me a good idea of space for the future. There's definitely a reason it's not renting as flats don't generally stay so long on the market (it was first posted a year ago, but I don't know if tenants have been in since then). Certainly a top floor flat is going to be slightly more difficult to rent out, but I would have thought that lowering the rent even a little would be an option at this point - surely something is better than nothing? I don't know. I appreciate there's a 'break even' point before you actually start to lose money and perhaps the landlord is currently at that price point now, but I do wonder. Regardless, I still can't afford it which saddens me a bit.

I did, however, decide to take the room in Ringwood. It just makes sense, particularly as I won't have to drive anywhere on a regular basis and can keep the car parked. It won't be until October 1 though, as I have some commitments in September to see through before shifting. It will also give me more time to divest myself of excess clutter and give me an extra month to save. It also means a month of commuting, but I'm okay with that as it's only about 20 minutes, more or less direct from where I am and against the traffic! I've sent the homeowner a note and am hoping to hear back from her soon. I'm pleased because I'll be able to actually save a bit. Ringwood is also a larger town and there are more opportunities for part-time jobs (I hope!) if I wanted one. 

I've worked out a loose budget for (assumed) costs once I've moved but obviously that will change once I've lived with it for a while. I'm still hoping for a bit of a pay rise but I don't think I'll hear any more about that until all the ink has dried on the paperwork for the new offices so am not anticipating that for the budget at the moment. We do finally have a new space, right on the high street in Ringwood town centre, and the MD is anticipating we'll be in by the first week in September (!!!) but I'm not sure how that's actually going to work. We'll get movers for the physical aspect of it, but it more or less means we need to start clearing the huge amount of clutter yesterday. Ah well. I did say I was happy to put some weekends in but just need to know in advance.

Oh! And I got my first pair(s) of glasses too. I was determined to make it to 50 before I got glasses, and am now the proud owner of two pairs of reading glasses. It's going to take me some time to figure out when I need these and when I don't, but I'm sure it won't take long. The reading glasses in the drug stores are much cheaper but I need a prescription because my eyes have minor astigmatism. I'd say 'just' readers at this point is pretty good. I've been very lucky not to need any corrective eyewear to this point, particularly as all my family has worn them forever.

Otherwise, my time off has been quiet, not doing much of anything. I've washed just about everything that needs it, sorted out the stuff (above), grocery shopped, had a lavender tea with my cousin on Sunday, and have been catching up with 'Endeavour', which is terrific.

I've been doing a bit of catching up with everyone's blogs, too, which has been a nice treat. 

I hope you're all having a great summer!

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Hiking for a cause (with pictures!)

My dad was 50 years old when he died of pancreal cancer, back in 1981. I reached 50 this year and it feels a bit surreal to be where he was, but in such different circumstances: no kids, no marriage, not a homeowner, no career (I have jobs, not careers), yet I'm now actually older than he was - he died only a month after his 50th birthday.

Macmillan is a national cancer charity, supporting patients and their families through their cancer journies, supplying nurses, support, advice, help, etc. Most of their funding comes through fundraising and charitable giving and they are a tremendously worthwhile group to support (I already give £5 a month).

To that end, every year they organise and promote fundraisers like coffee mornings, where people bring cakes and coffee and donate towards the cause, to golf games, quizzes, walks, hikes, bikes, etc. The hikes are generally pretty tough and are aptly dubbed 'Mighty Hikes' for good reason.

I decided at the beginning of the year that I would do one of these hikes so registered for one on the Jurassic Coast (south west coast) - all 22 miles of it - on July 8. The kit came with a guide to training, information about fundraising, etc. so I was all set. First, though, I asked my boss at work if they would be willing to match me with anything I raised and he said yes! I know they support Macmillan anyway, but it was still a good feeling to have him say 'yes' to that.

I did no training, however, not even a little, figuring I would get as far as I would get (I actually got further than I thought I would) and that it would be a well-fought struggle to get there anyway. No one prepares for cancer, after all...

Anyway, the walk started in the seaside town of Weymouth, in Dorset and travelled along part of the South West Coast Path, finishing 23.5 miles away near Corfe Castle. I had registered for an 8:00 start, based solely on the fact that that's the time Jane and I generally start out our hiking days. To be fair, however, we've never hiked that far in a day - our longest was about 19km, this worked out to over 37!

There were 1300 of us hikers that day, staggered in groups of approximately 200 every half hour from 7:00 (for the slowest) to 10:00 (for the super fit), all to be completed by 9:00 at the latest that night. Each group had a welcome speech and a few minutes of Zumba to warm up and off we went. I started out with a young lady I met at the start, but very quickly found myself on my own again. Only for about a half an hour or so, however, as I met a lovely woman, also on her own, and we were well matched for pace, so we hiked the rest of the way together. I honestly believe I would not have made it as far as I did without her encouragement and support. 


And this is my journey in photos:

Weymouth beach, with the Esplanade in the background.

I walked to the registration tent on Friday night when I arrived (a half hour from my B&B) and found this mosaic en route.

The pebbled half of the beach with the Jurassic coastline in the distance.

Weymouth, looking back towards the harbour.

Sunset from my B&B window - note pub opposite! I had a wretched night - not because of the B&B, but beause of the noise around it. So. Much. Noise. I must have got about 3 or 4 hours sleep. Ugh.

Saturday morning - streets are quiet.

I love these old fashioned benches.

Beach huts!

Ice cream! My favourite...too bad it's shut!

The start - the 7:30 group getting their motivation on!

A look back at the coastline, about half an hour in.

The Osmington White Horse - representing King William III.

Sunrise. It was deceptively humid already. Temperature supposed to be about 21 & overcast. Yeah, okay...

5 miles done and our first rest stop - drinks, medics, fruit, snacks, information and toilets. It was extremely well done and had everything you could want. We had a good rest of about 20 minutes or so. We were feeling quite good at this point as it was a reasonably paced walk, with a few moderate climbs. Lulled us into a false sense of security, really...

After our break, the clouds starting dissipating and the temperature climbed little by little. Shade disappeared and by the time we got to Lulworth Cove, five miles later and our lunch stop, it was considerably hotter than when we had started, and beginning to get much hillier.

I'm unclear exactly if this is abandoned or not. It looks like it might be, but also has solar panels on the roof and curtains in the windows, so I'm really not sure. At any rate, it was kind of remote and the photo below is more or less the view.

Ohhh, those downhills were tough! And as steep as the uphills.

The Durdle Door! 'Durdle' is apparently derived from the Old English word, 'thirl', meaning bore or drill. And the Durdle Door is apparently privately owed, as part of the holdings of the Weld family, who own 12,000 acres in Dorset as part of the Lulworth Estate.

Lulworth Cove and village. You can see our destination, the big white tent in the field in the foreground.

It was hot, hot, hot by the time we made it for lunch. It was fantastic - a delicious variety of salads, cold meats, muffins and cookies, drinks, etc. We stayed slightly longer than we had anticipated but as I was really hungry and not feeling so great when we arrived, the rest was good and I was ready to go after a good break.

Pretty Lulworth Cove village.

Lulworth Cove.

Deceptively shallow climb.

Boats everywhere - we were all rather wishing for a quick dip at this point. The temperature had risen steadily to about 24C and with no shade, that direct sun took a lot out of people.


The woman I hiked with, pausing at the bottom where we actually got a more realistic view of the hill. It was a monster and took us about 40 minutes to climb.

But the view was amazing!

Down the other side of that monster, hoping the next one isn't QUITE so awful (it was).

My battery ran out here, but we are just starting up the next hill here.

Ultimately, we made it 15 miles and got a shuttle to the next rest stop at mile 17.5, where we withdrew. I literally could not have walked another step - my poor feet! And that heat was wretched. People were still continuing - the really fit ones - to the finish, but we headed back to town and our beds.

I'm still collecting my donations but believe, with work's match, that I've raised just over £500! I think that's pretty awesome, actually, considering I don't really know that many people.

My cousin picked me up the next day, which was awesome of her, and we stopped for a late lunch at a pub called The World's End, just outside of Ringwood. It was another stinking hot day and as I'd got myself quite burned, I just wanted to be away from the sun, wherever that happened to be. It was cooler inside and we had a lovely meal before the final leg home.

That morning, before I met her, I'd spent some time wandering the town. It was the annual Seafood Festival (makes me wish I like seafood, apart from prawns), so it was packed.

It was a great weekend and although my poor toes are in pretty bad shape, I'm really glad I did it and very proud of myself for getting as far as I did. I would definitely do another one, but perhaps one that's not quite so long - maybe 10-15 miles instead - as it's a great cause. 


I've been on the lookout for a flat, as I've mentioned, and have tried to view a little flat in a village called Fordingbridge (15 mins north of Ringwood) twice now. The first time was my fault the viewing fell through, I admit. I thought I had plugged my phone in to charge, but I had forgotten to turn the switch on and so it didn't charge overnight as I'd planned. It meant I missed both the email and voice mail asking me to confirm that I would be meeting the agent as arranged; if not, she wasn't going to make the journey from Salisbury.

Fair enough. I called and apologised when I got home and rearranged my viewing for yesterday. I hadn't heard from the agency and when I called to say that I was there, I found out that THEY hadn't added the rearranged appointment to their books! ARGH. So, I've rearranged once more (and for the last time) to see the flat on Thursday morning. I have a few days off this week, so I hope it actually happens this time! 

After that, we went down to Ringwood to view a room that I'd arranged to see. Unfortunately, the room itself I couldn't see as someone is currently in it (I have seen it in a photo online, however), but we were shown around the house by an utterly lovely woman and I'm actually inclined to take just it, as it's a 15-minute walk from Ringwood High Street, there's an allocated parking spot, two (tiny) dogs, a garden (albeit a paved one) and the house is immaculate. The costs of having my own flat, however, are a bit out of my reach at the moment so this would be a more feasible, realistic move for me.

I need to find out when we're expecting to move, crunch a few numbers and try to make a decision. I told the homeowner I would get back to her next week, but I'm the right age and gender for her preferences, as well as having a 'normal' working routine, so I'm pretty sure the room is mine and I just have to say so.

I'll let you know how I get on!