Sunday, August 27, 2017

I'm moving!! :D

Well, I did it. I found a new place to live yesterday and I am REALLY pleased with it.

Despite my enthusiam in my last post about the studio flat and possibly being fully independent again, I came home from seeing the room in Bransgore, a pretty Forest village, more or less already moved in! Haha! 

The flat in Fordgingbridge was cute and much roomier than I imagined, with loads of storage space (could have even used one of the spaces - pantry sized - as a mini-library!), although the bedroom was on the small side for a double and kitchen was T-I-I-I-N-Y! But heaps of character (beams, uneven walls and floors, etc.), big bathroom and a bright, roomy living area. It would, however, be a nightmare to move anything into - the stairs are on the steep side and winding in a narrow stairwell, so getting something like a sofa in there would be almost impossible if it weren't flat-packed. But the reason it hasn't rented (and probably won't for the foreseeable future) is that the electricity is on a coin-operated meter, so you feed in pound coins to run it. I think. I've never actually used one and don't quite understand the concept of it, but can't imagine it's particularly cheap and efficient. The landlady, however, won't change it, despite requests from the estate agents. 

Plus there's no parking included and I'd either have to park further up the street in the residential area or buy an annual permit (£100) and park in the public lot around the corner.

So I was a bit disappointed although, as I say, I didn't dislike it. Fordingbridge is a nice little town, and the drive to Ringwood is only about 15 mins or so (just over 5 miles).

Next I went to Bransgore to see the room. It's a small village tucked into a corner of the Forest, 6.5 miles (16 mins drive) south of Ringwood and not somewhere I've been before.

You can see Ringwood just at the top of the map.

Part of my dilemma with having to move was the fact that, apart from not having the funds to do it, I wanted to be fully independent. Why should I look at rooms again?

Well, this place was lovely! Really and truly. The room was at the back of the house, opening onto a sun-filled patio (with picnic table) that was all mine! There are two chickens, a fish pond, a little guest house/potential studio at the back, parking, a BBQ & garden area at the side/front, all the shops are literally a block away, it's bright and cosy and the owner and one of the other tenants were there to chat with me. The owner is so easy going and is moving to Spain. The tenant I met (there are currently two) was an Italian lady, a sommelier (!) and quite lovely. The other tenant, a solicitor, was away, but has apparently been there about 6 years and has zero inclination to move away - his office is actually located above the grocery store on the corner (about 100 yards from the house). The house would more or less be mine on weekends, as the sommelier works and the solicitor is away at his parents' or somewhere.

It's sooooo peaceful!

Rent includes everything, including council tax, and as I was more or less redecorating the place less than an hour later, it shouldn't come as a surprise that I took it. We all liked each other very much and it seems I'll be the one using the kitchen the most as the other two just aren't around or don't cook much.

I paid my deposit last night and pick up the keys next Sunday, when I'll be in Ringwood helping a bit to set up the new office for a couple of hours. I'll drop some un-necessary bits and pieces there (my books, most likely, and some knick knacks) at the same time and can see how it might all start to fit together.

The Forest is about 5 minutes up the street, it's 10 minutes drive to the beach, I can cycle more or less anywhere, and the drive to work will be very quiet. I'm hoping to be fully moved in before the end of September, but as I'll have my keys I can come and go as I please and will be officially settled by 1 October.

So, I'll be driving more than I'd like, but not on any major roads and the distance means I'll be home before 6:00, which is almost half an hour sooner than I am now! Biking - depending on the roads - would take me about half an hour, so once I'm more familiar with the roads and the area I can start doing that when it's lighter in the evenings. The narrow English roads are frightening enough during full daylight as a cyclist, I don't want to risk them at night quite frankly.

Anyway, I'm feeling really good about it all. Staying with my cousin was never meant to be a permanent things and I've over-stayed my welcome. So this is going to be good for both of us.

Will post pictures once I've got everything to my liking. :D

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Busy Saturday to come!

The house hunt continues BUT I am very excited because I have a very busy Saturday with viewings at THREE potential places.

I'm having one last kick at the can with the flat in Fordingbridge, if for no other reason than I'm very curious to see why it isn't renting. Is it haunted? Is there a tremendous stink? Can you get any furniture up the stairs? Is it a sauna in the summertime? Is it ridiculously noisy, seeing as it overlooks the High Street? Are the neighbours creepy? Am I going to feel claustrophobic because of low ceilings (it's on the second floor)?

All legitimate questions that I shall seek answers to. I like Fordingbridge, but the flat really isn't affordable for me, so this is most likely a wasted trip for the agent. But there is also the slim potential for renegotiating the rent, so I'm leaving that window open as well (although I've never done it before). Surely any reasonable amount of rent for the landlord is better than losing £550 a month by it sitting empty?

I'm then zipping down to a village called Bransgore, which is tucked into a corner of the Forest just south of Ringwood, to see a room. It's at the back of a bungalow, shared with two other people, and the room has its own private patio out the back! It's a decent size and Bransgore is a quick ~12 min drive to Ringwood, almost 4 miles. It's walking distance to all amenities and I could, depending on the roads, ride my bike to work in good weather.

Rent is £550 per month, including all bills. I'm assuming this also includes council tax, but that's a question I'll have to ask.

I was then going to see a room only a 5-min walk from Ringwood High Street, but I've just today cancelled that visit. I would be claustrophobic and I don't want a repeat of my time in Chertsey, where I more or less jumped at the cheapest room and wound up being entirely miserable the whole time I was there. Rent, inclusive of bills, £400. I'd be able to save/pay down more, but I would not be happy.

And then...AND THEN!!!!!! This little studio flat in Ringwood popped up. 20 mins walk from Ringwood High Street, across the fields from a place called Liberty's Owl Raptor and Reptile Centre, somewhere I was considering volunteering because...owls & raptors! I've got an appointment booked for 2:30. I'd be happy if the current occupant left all her stuff, as it's beautifully laid out, but sadly I'm not confident that'll happen. But it's entirely self-contained and it's just me, so how much space do I really need?

I'm beyond excited about this because I also have the funds to pay the criminal outrageous estate agency fees, deposit & set up fees for utilities. I'll be down to a zero budget every month with no room for luxuries, but it would be so fantastic to be independent again. I've got umpteen books and as long as I have internet, I'm more or less happy. Ringwood has a library and (hopefully) a few options for part-time work if I needed.

I like both the Bransgore room and the Ringwood studio for different reasons. But I have to see them to be able to make a proper decision. I haven't seen the rest of the Bransgore house yet, so can't make any comments. The studio may be exceptionally claustrophobic feeling in its own way. You really can't make a decision based on Internet photos.

So, fingers crossed for me, please! I'll let you know how I get on and what I ultimately decide.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Still looking for a new place

I'm certainly feeling better since my last post - which is good for everyone really! - although I am going to make a concerted effort to shift some of this weight. I might also just get rid of the scales, too, as they tell me I'm now at my heaviest ever: 78kg (12st or 168lbs). Up until I arrived here, I've consistently weighed 66kg and that's what I'm used to. Not to say that it's not where my natural weight is, but where I am now is uncomfortable, unhealthy, incredibly frustrating and entirely something I can control, so I need to control it.

To that end, I've done a massive (!) food order and will be jumping on the 'no sugar' bandwagon again this week. I did a great service to myself the first time I did this, so why I had such difficulty following through a couple more times I've no idea. Regardless, I realised yesterday that I quit smoking cold turkey 21 years ago, so it's like that the best way for me to quit sugar too. The only concession I'll be making is a small glass of orange juice in the morning for my iron supplement.

I plan to follow it to the letter otherwise, portion size and everything to see if I can shift some of this bloat, weight, brain fogginess, etc. being aware, however, that some of it is menopause-related and I can't change everything. I can moderate the symptoms, however, and being able to wear something other than only yoga pants would be most welcome.

In other news, the house/home hunt continues.

That's about the size of it, isn't it? Or what it feels like at least. I have decided to take one last opportunity to look at the flat in Fordingbridge, although I admit I can't really afford it. Currently, bare-bones living in the flat will leave me £23 in the hole each month, and that's at a minimum! I'll consider a (very) cheeky offer on the rent after seeing it and having a chat with the agent, but obviously, that's yet to be determined.

I've made a spreadsheet with expected/assumed costs on it and keep fiddling with the numbers. I've now got several options on it, including rooms that are up to 8 miles from Ringwood (meaning higher fuel costs).

The room I had hoped for has fallen through, sadly, but I am at the top of her list should anything change in the next six months or so. I had a lovely chat with the homeowner on Thursday evening and she's disappointed as well, but as it's her (severely handicapped) daughter moving back in from group home living, she feels she needs to concentrate all her energy on making sure her daughter is happy and in a good place.

Absolutely fine obviously! I'm not in danger of being kicked out although I know my cousin would like me gone sooner rather than later, but I need to be proactive in my search so she knows I'm serious and not just wanting the rental discount. The longer I'm here, however, the better. I'd like to have as much set aside for moving as I possibly can and then, once moved, I can use some of those saved funds to use as a springboard for saving towards a proper deposit/utility set up fees and also for debt repayment.

I sent queries about three possible rooms yesterday, one of which I've already had a response about. The landlord is just waiting for a deposit on it, which is a bit disappointing as it's quite lovely! I've not had a response about either of the others yet, although I know the messages have been received. It's hard not to get disheartened but as it's only been a day I don't suppose I can start giving up just yet! :P

I've also got some details about a part-time, home-based job for the women's group I belong to. It's a national group and they're looking for a Website and Publicity Coordinator, so you need to be quite au fait with, well, web stuff like Facebook, Twitter, etc. as well as being inclined to work to attract new members (i.e. marketing), etc. I'm more or less qualified so I thought I would give it a shot. Nothing ventured, nothing gained after all. I have until 8 September to apply so will mess about this weekend with my CV and polish it up a little.

Otherwise, the move to Ringwood is scheduled for 1 September and very little has been done at the office. I'm hoping the Office Manager, back from holidays on Monday, will get a schedule of some sort done so that we can tackle all this stuff head on. It's tricky while we still more or less need everything to keep the office going until that day. I have to get quite a bit of stuff filed away, packed into non-existent boxes, and we have SO. MUCH. JUNK. to get rid of. Boxes of computer bits & pieces everywhere - keyboards, mice, cords, towers...surely someone will collect and recycle/reuse that sort of thing? Someone always does.

Anyway, some good food, some internet home searches, perhaps starting my morning walks again, continuing with my room declutter and planning for a boot sale, getting the office organised and applying for that part-time job are all on my agenda and will hopefully make the next couple of weeks fly by.

I'll try to get some photos of the move (if anyone's interested), current and new digs. I'll be heading to the new offices on 3 September to do a bit of setting up, so I'll try to sneak a few photos in. 

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!