Thursday, 5 July 2018

More ch-ch-ch-changes...?


It's already July. ALREADY. JULY. Over halfway through yet another year and the potential for changes continues. I now have even MORE thoughts swirling about my head, thanks to a visit to Nottingham over the weekend to visit friends.

I went north (technically at least - Nottingham is more or less the geographical centre of England, but is situated in the area known as the East Midlands) to go on a ghost hunt in Sherwood Forest and visit my friends. I've known N since I was 16 when we started writing as penfriends. Fast forward 35 years and we're still in touch (he's one of about 4 I still correspond with 25+ years on), but this is only the second time we've actually met.

He & his wife, J, were wonderful and we had a brilliant time. The ghost hunt was interesting, if long (6 hours!), and we were thoroughly exhausted by the time we got home at 2:30. I have nothing to compare it to - other than what I've seen on TV and that's massively edited - so it was both what I was expecting and not what I was expecting. Ha ha! I certainly didn't see any ghosts; however, we did see a glass move (like a Ouija board type thing) and I definitely heard a couple of strange things. I also noted changed faces when we were standing around the Major Oak at the end of the night. This, however, could be due to tiredness and a mostly-full moon, but as this particular phenomenon didn't affect everyone in the circle, I can't be sure.

I'm a 99% believer in this kind of thing, so I really did enjoy myself. J wasn't keen at all, but I think is actually quite sensitive to this sort of thing, as she came over feeling quite sick during our final 'experiment' (the glass).

I do have some photos to upload this weekend although I didn't take all that many. N did capture some orbs around the Major Oak, but I haven't seen mine properly to notice if anything may have showed up.

So what does all this have to do with more changes? It's no secret that I'm bored at work. I'm torn between 'settling' for this job that I'm good at, that has been very good to me, is permanent, etc., etc., and filling my private life with more interesting things, or going off in a completely different direction entirely (again). 
  • School - but what school? What will I study? For how long? Where? How will I pay for it? When will I go? Part-time or full-time?
  • Moving - this has put a wrench in the works. I have a year to see where things go. If we're offered the opportunity to extend our lease, will I want to? Walking to work beckons, and I would prefer my own place. But the north...I love the north and the initial, tiny seed was planted when Jane and I hiked Hadrian's Wall several years ago. It has taken root after my visit to the Midlands. Cost of living is so much lower than in the south. But where? What would I do, the same type of work? Something different?
  • Savings - my birthday gift from Roomie E and the landlady, T, was a savings pot. You break it open when it's full (can apparently have £1000 in it if you put just £1/£2 in it over a year!), which is a shame as it's so pretty! Anyway, I decided last week what I wanted to do with it - take a falconry course. Random, right? There are schools dotted around the country and you can take various certification courses. They're about a week long and from what I can see, the programmes start about £400 and go up from there, depending on how far you take it. So, I am looking into this. As a potential career change? Hobby? Part-time work? Conversation piece? Who knows?? 
I have so much research to do about everything. The draw to the North is strong, not least because I could actually afford to BUY a place (depending on where I end up, of course, prices vary wildly).

It costs nothing to look, however, and I like having things like this do to. Feeling - and being! - more proactive about my life always seems to get me to the right place in the end. Even if it starts out as 'just for fun'...

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Two weeks in - how are things going?

There's always an adjustment period with moving - with change in general, really - isn't there? New surroundings, new people, new routines, new issues. It can really mess with you.

I am normally quite quiet and keep to myself a lot. I don't swear (much), am quite easy-going and tend to adjust relatively well to whatever is going on around me. Having said that, however, I prefer peace and quiet to chaos. Since the landlady moved back to the house in Feb (March?) and announced she was selling, it's been steady chaos, not least because there have been dogs to contend with as well. I have nothing against dogs, I love them in fact, but they're very needy creatures. I think that's why I prefer cats - they're far more independent and are quite content to spend much of their time alone. Much like me.

Anyway, the first full week we were here I felt annoyed by EVERYTHING and had a really short temper. Everything felt like BS and I was just ranting against it. The neighbour who thought my car was abandoned? F*(& you, Mr 'I'm too lazy and self-important to park it in my garage like I'm supposed to' 2009 VW Golf. What a ridiculous thing to say. Taking time off work to wait for a plumber who didn't show, when Roomie E was here (sleeping). That annoyed me no end and I stated unequivocally that I couldn't take the time off work again for the rescheduled appointment, which was Thursday at 8:15. 

Work was really getting to me. I'm frustrated by the 'information vortex' where questions, suggestions, thoughts, general info, etc. seem to enter but answers never come back out. I have offered (several times, quite keenly) to do some overtime at home/office. Instead, we've had our part-time typist in to do some catching up, which I thought was what we were trying to avoid. Don't get me wrong, she's lovely and I enjoy it when she's there, but I seem to remember a conversation about not using her as often because I HAD OFFERED OVERTIME. O_o

So, I felt really wound up and angry but strangely focused at the same time. I realise part of my frustration is that I'm currently not learning anything, even for fun, so I need to look at an evening class, an online class, or a weekend workshop of some kind. Floristry? Genealogy? Writing? Painting? Yoga? Aromatherapy? Paranormal? So many options to look into. I gave myself a card reading and it was excellent - pointed to school as my 'way out' and started and ended with 'Let Go' cards! Telling.

This week has been so much better. I've calmed down considerably and am loving the peace and quiet of this place. I've sat in the living room a couple of evenings and just reveled in the silence. Apart from birdsong, there is literally no noise. It's utter heaven. I think last week was part of the adjustment to that - from utter chaos to zero. I'm realising how badly it affects me.

So, having come 'down' I've decided to make some changes, starting with a diet overhaul. I bought this before I moved. This is their website:

It's a new vegan cookbook. I'd seen some videos on FB and they looked delicious (!). It's a beautiful book and has plenty of recipes for everyone. I'm planning an 80/20 overhaul, with meat becoming much less of a regular addition. I'm not off it entirely but I am becoming more aware of the process and finding it harder to justify eating as much. I have a cookbook/programme that my sister recommended to me and read half of it. It rang true in many ways, with respect to balancing hormones, etc. that I'm dealing with in menopause, but still didn't sit quite right. This does, so I'm going to sit down today to make a meal plan. I'm going to concentrate on dinners and lunches for now, and ideally start next week(end). I've got some bits and pieces to go through this week. But as I say, I think 80/20 will work best for me, as these are the kinds of recipes to which I can add a bit of chicken, sausage, or salmon. There are, of course, some things I simply won't eat (I'm looking at you tomatoes, olives and mushrooms...yeesh!), but there's enough stuff here that I can manage more than well enough.

I'm off to Nottingham at the end of the month for a visit with my friends and a ghost hunt in Sherwood Forest. I bought train tickets because the bus, whilst cheap, would take about 5 hours! Yikes. I got a pretty good deal on train tickets, though, although the connection in London is tight-ish. I'm trying to avoid the underground (simply because I don't like it) and the walk from Waterloo to St Pancras is about 45 minutes, but it would be only one line to get there if I decided to take the underground after all and I can manage that. I hate changing. The walk is more or less a straight line, so hopefully I won't get lost. I don't know London well enough to take shortcuts.

Our Internet & phone were set up on Thursday so we're all set there as well. A bit frustrating not to have it, but we managed - I read about 6 books (!) and am all caught up on my NetGalley reading and reviewing. I don't HAVE to read a book until August now. I'm quite relieved, as I was struggling a bit there.

Anyhow, that's my update. I'm happy to have come through my anger with some clarity  on the other side.

Hope you're all feeling good this weekend!

Sunday, 10 June 2018

The new digs!

Living room view.

Dining room.

Living room.


Hallway, Roomie E's room on left.

Hallway, bathroom and shower room on right.

Main bathroom (mine).

Shower room (Roomie E's).

Front foyer, my room on left.

My new room!

All the bits and pieces in the hallway have been tidied away, as these photos are from last week. Outside of that, it's so quiet and peaceful. We really lucked out with this place!

It's been a bit of an exhausting week as we get settled and figure out new routines, etc. The drive to work hasn't been too much different - about an extra 10 minutes all in. The only 'bother' (if it can even be termed that) is that I now have to cross a fairly busy commuter road and just need to stay patient there. There is an alternate route, but unclear how long that would take me, as it's along Highcliffe high street which is about 3" wide and I think could get a bit jammed depending on the day. Anyway, no major issues so far and here's to that continuing.

I am putting it in writing, however, that next time I move, I'm moving alone.

Outside of that, I've been reading up a storm and have cleared three more books from my TBR pile this week (I KNOW! Keener...). Fortunately, I've enjoyed them all and this morning spent some time updating my NetGalley reviews so am currently up to date with those (more or less).

My writing group met yesterday morning and we had a fantastic meeting. Considering we were literal strangers when we sat down 18 months ago for a writing workshop, we are a cohesive, supportive, EFFING amazing group of ladies who genuinely enjoy each other's company. I believe I can genuinely say we're now friends. Now that the anthology has reached its apex, we've been feeling at a bit of a loose end so decided that new goals were needed. Each of us has a long(er) term goal that fits with who she is and what she wants to do. Mine is publishing a novel (a cosy mystery) set in the New Forest, which is a beautiful and very unique part of the country. My first goal is to write an outline and a couple of character sketches for the next meeting in July. I need the accountability of showing everyone a result: a half or full chapter each month after that. The group will be my eyes in respect of continuity, etc. Plus there are two ex-teachers in the group so grammar issues will be picked up as well. I can bounce ideas off everyone and fine tune questions and suspects, etc.

I'm happy to be in a place that feels good and where I'm sleeping well. I haven't slept consistently through the night for almost three weeks, but I hope last night's 8-hour solid snooze will be the first of many more!

Hope you're all having a great weekend!

Friday, 1 June 2018

1st moving day: keys

At noon today, we collect our keys to our new flat and sign our lives (for the next 12-months, at least) away. Roomie E will, I believe, be spending time this afternoon running back and forth to get some bits & pieces into the space, but I've taken a shift at the cafe. I'll be doing my running about tomorrow.

I wasn't QUITE as productive in the packing department as I'd have hoped last weekend, but I'm not too bothered. I can take stuff over, empty bags & boxes and then reuse them. I'm leaving all the big stuff for the movers on Sunday morning.

It's been a bit of a funny week. Only three working days, but they were quite busy, which helps the days go quickly, but there was still lots of typing to be done when I left yesterday. But one thing I like about the job is that you can walk away from it at the end of the day and just not worry about what's there (or maybe that's just me...?).

I've had some really fab thrift shop finds for the flat this week, too. I've picked up a few more things for the kitchen - why does the kitchen ALWAYS need so much stuff? I found a utensil holder for £2, and some new tea towels for £5. I was beyond thrilled to find an entire set of GLASS Pyrex storage containers (with lids!) for £25 which means I can finally wean myself off the plastic containers I've got. It's ridiculously hard (and expensive) to buy glass storage, so this pleases me greatly.

A work colleague brought me some sofa cushions she didn't want anymore. They're navy blue with sea creatures on them (they're nicer than they sound) and will look great. I'm pleased with free acquisitions and am helping her out by taking them off her hands.

I also bought an actual cordless phone! I'd seen one in the electronics shop but when I finally stopped in to get it, I found that the sale on that particular one was over. So I settled for a slightly cheaper model (£19), one without nuisance call blocking. After a bit of a think, I decided to splurge and get the one I originally wanted - who wants to be bothered by telemarketers all the time? So I was prepared to pay an extra £20 for the upgraded model. When I went in yesterday, however, he only had the display model left, so sold it to me for the sale price of £24.99, which means it only cost me an extra £5! HURRAH!

Roomie E and I both want to make long-distance calls and much prefer a landline for that, so we've set up a contract with a provider for Internet and Anytime International Calls. With a small monthly fee, we get 300 'free' long-distance minutes. Quite a good deal. We have our mobile phones for UK calling 

I also found a necklace hanger that I liked for £2.50 at one of the thrift shops, but by the time I got home, I'd lost the hanger bit for it! Very disappointed, as now my necklace hanger is just a weird statue. I did keep my eyes peeled when I retraced my steps to the office yesterday morning, but no luck. It's gone, sadly.

I did, however, make a rather startling discovery when I went to look for the hanger in the back seat of the car: chicken sausages that had been under the passenger seat since FEBRUARY. Gross. Oddly enough, they didn't smell, which is why they weren't picked up on a lot earlier.

Yesterday morning I woke up to find all four hubcaps missing from my car. *sigh* Probably bored kids on spring break, but whatever. I spent half an hour at work sorting that out. Fortunately, it doesn't affect the performance of the car, it's just aesthetically displeasing (hee hee), and will cost me less than £20 to rectify. There are funds in my car fund I can use for that.

I've been enjoying my reading as well and have made my way through two more books in the past week. I need to review them this weekend, as I won't have (personal) Internet until after 14 June, which was the earliest we could get an appointment to get it set up. I'll try to manage...

I made myself promise me that I'd wait until we'd moved in properly before finding anything else to take home. Once we have it all set up, it'll be much easier to see what we need/want.

Hope you all have a great weekend! I'll make sure to take some photos of the new place once we're a bit organised.

Saturday, 26 May 2018

On the verge of summer!

I have to say, though, that I'm one of 'those' people - I don't particularly like summer. I don't dislike it, of course, but I don't do well in the heat. I actively seek out the shade and tend to spend my days as only a slightly darker shade than 'pasty white'. I'm quite happy to let those who live for days on the beach make their way down to the coast on these long, hot weekends and jam themselves into the available space with millions of their closest friends and neighbours.

Not for me. No thank you! No way.

Roomie E and I move next weekend so this bank holiday weekend (which is overcast & raining on and off), I'll be starting to pack, organise, tidy, recycle, toss, launder, rest, relax and read. We pick up our keys on 1 June and sign the contract, then have a couple of days where we can move a few smaller things in our cars. We can set up some bits & pieces but have booked a 'man and a van' for the morning on Sunday 3 June for three hours. I'm not convinced it'll take three hours, but that was their minimum (and the price was right, too: £50 all in per hour), so it's fine. Depending on the size of the van, it may take two trips anyway - the fellow didn't ask what we had.

But it's sorted out and that's the main thing.

I'm also dog sitting this weekend for two dogs and making £30 for it, so I'm fine with that. That can go towards my share of the movers.

I've also been looking for Internet/phone providers and looking at the deals that are available. There are a couple, but not a wide variety. Because our lease is only 12 months at this point, getting into anything longer could potentially be more expensive because of the (likely) necessity of cancelling the contract if the lease can't be extended. I've found two that work well (but for different reasons): one is a 12-month contract, one is 18 months. Both include international (landline) calls, but only one includes UK calls. I'll have to discuss it briefly with Roomie E when I see her tomorrow morning.

Anyway, regardless of what we decide, we're going to have to wait about two weeks for it be set up, so the longer we wait to make a decision, the longer we'll be without internet at the new place.

My Mum was here for two weeks and left on Thursday morning. It's always difficult to spend time with her. I've realised that a large part of the difficulties I have with the way I communicate (or don't) stems from her. My sister had similar revelations (communication, interactions with other people, 'owning' space, etc.) and is happy now to spend some time on her own to process this. She's good at this and processing it all in a healthy way, whereas I tend to stuff it down on top of everything else and just add to the pile. This is part of the reason why I feel so 'dead' inside - I don't allow myself to 'feel' anything. My Mum is exactly the same. And this also means that I literally have no feelings one way or another for my Mum. I'm not sure what the catalyst for full release of all this junk will be, but it'll be massive, whatever it is.

She's going to SA for my brother's wedding with one of our Canadian cousins but isn't entirely sure whether or not she'll go through with it. She feels obligated (obligation/guilt is big), but if she's not healthy enough to go, or isn't feeling like she can manage a huge trip like that, then she should feel fine to cancel too. Two international trips in one year is a lot for an 86-year old. I'm considering telling my brother that Mum's doctor advised her against coming here to see us because of her heart. A 36-hour trip to SA could quite literally kill her. I don't want him to feel guilty for paying for her ticket, but I think it's right that he should be aware. Ultimately, though, it's her decision.

Anyway, the weather was good while she was here - sunny, but not too hot most days. My sister stayed at the flat with her, while I would go over during the day and then come home at night to sleep. I got lots of reading done (about 4 books, I think), particularly as I didn't sleep through the night the entire time. I'd get to bed at my usual time, have the light off shortly thereafter, and be wide awake before 4:00 a.m. I'm finally starting to sleep through the night again, so that's something.

Once I've moved, I'm going to do an entire overhaul of my diet. Both my sister and I found ourselves stuffing our faces the entire time Mum was here and I've finally tipped the scales at 12 stone - the heaviest I've ever been in my life. I feel tired all the time, can't wear most of my clothes and am now overweight for the first time in my life according to the BMI scale. Not by much, but still. I realise part of it is menopause/hormones, but a larger part of it is my current biscuit obsession and massive sweet tooth.

I've bought the vegan cookbook Bosh! with the intent that I can maybe have a couple of days a week of meat-free meals. I'm also going to concentrate on managing my hormones better with what I eat, and have a book designed specifically for that as well. I'm hoping the combination of the two will make a noticeable difference. I've been doing okay with my walking at lunch, but have let it slide the past few days so need to pick it up again. It makes me feel better and moving a little bit is better than not moving at all!

The new flat is close to a bike/walking path/beach which is great, so I'm going to explore that once we've moved in. I was having some trouble with one of my knees and a wrist last time I tried to ride my bike for any great length of time, so I'm going to see how it goes. I may end up having to sell my bike if it continues and/or gets worse. But that's not for right now.

I am, though, working on a list of things I own that I could potentially sell. This is all related to clutter and whether or not I'm using an item, etc. I cleared a few books off my iPad/Kindle app this morning. Just because they were free doesn't mean that I'm going to read them. So I'm going to continue that. I'm also looking at 'big ticket' items like my dSLR and bits, my bike and a printer/toner that I have and am not using. I have to come to terms with whether I like the idea of having a camera more than I like having the camera, as I don't use it at all. I take pictures with my iPod or something compact like that. I haven't used my camera for several years and it's just taking up space at this point. There's someone out there who would get a lot of use and joy from it. The same with my bike - I've only ridden it about half a dozen times and I think I like the idea of it more than I like having it. Plus, as I said above, I'm not even sure I can ride it for great distances anymore.

The printer/toner I got for free from work when we moved (!), but I'm sure someone would be happy to take it off my hands for a reasonable price.

This is what I'm going to spend the next few months organising in my head and physical space. I'll be moving on again in a year, so I think it's all part of the process of letting stuff go.