Sunday, 13 October 2019

Off on a little holiday!

Heading down to Devon for a few days to visit my sister. Packed up the car yesterday with all kinds of things to take with me - what a great way to declutter a place! 😀😀 Packed my bike, the vacuum we found when we moved in, a bag of household-y things that I bought, the camp bed, pillows & sheets, all my magazines, a set of candlesticks, a few old towels, a kettle (new), and some excess cutlery. Phew! She'll bet set for awhile. 

It's going to be a wet trip - I think there's one day of 'mostly cloudy' forecast - but 'tis England after all, and I should be used to this by now. It's what it does. We've got the tail end of a hurricane (is it Lorenzo?) and, well, that's pretty much it. Wet weather gear is ready to go. Regardless, a few days away is a nice break.

I borrowed a sat nav from a colleague which I'm pleased about. I was debating about buying one but as I don't generally go too far afield, there didn't seem to be much point expending the ££ before I knew how often I'd need it. I don't go very many places I don't know these days. Is that wrong? Ha ha! Anyhow, a loan is the cheapest option, so I'm pleased it worked out.

It's just going 7:00 and I'm going to leave within the hour, I think, only because I'd like to potentially get a bit of a head start on the rain if possible. I will 'drive dirty' and shower when I get there.

I know a massage is on the agenda, mine at least, but sadly, no goat yoga! Maybe it's the wrong time of year (no kids)? Anyhow, my sister says she has all kinds of things planned, lots animal-related, so I'm sure we'll have a great time.

Will update (with photos) next week! 'Byeeeeeeeeeee 😘

Sunday, 6 October 2019

Autumnal October has arrived

Word of the month: Awareness

October's had a reasonable start, all things considered. Monday (although technically still September) I took my car in to get the rear brakes done and it was spot on the quote I'd been given at the beginning of the month when I had my MOT done: £341.51. Fab.

A bit of adjustment with my budget and I paid for it in cash and this, all being well, takes care of car-related concerns until the insurance comes due in January.

I had some bloodwork on Thursday morning. Along with 'general' menopause-related complaints, my hair is thinning and I want to see if there is something that can, if not stop, at least slow and potentially reverse this. My hair has never in my life been those luxurious, frothy locks in shampoo ads. I've been 'blessed' with very fine hair, naturally wavy (until I lived in the Yukon, where it went more 'Laurie Partridge' than 'Roseanne Rosannadanna'), and, like everyone, lost hair generally over the years. It's only been in the last six months or so that I've noticed MORE hair than normal, and my scalp feeling more sensitive than normal (to hot water, cold, etc.) that I realised there was an issue. I've been taking some supplements which are intended to help but thought a visit to the doctor wouldn't be a bad thing anyway.

The results should be back in the next day or so, and depending on what is/isn't found we can have a follow-up to see if anything can be done. Is it thyroid-related, dietary, etc.? If it's genetic, there's little that can be done, and it's obviously connected to the hormonal chaos happening, but changing my diet certainly can't hurt either (removing caffeine, non-complex carbs, possibly dairy, sugar, etc.). There are some OTC products that can help and I'm trying hard not to obsess or get overly self-conscious about it, but it is a bit hard to come to terms with on some level because women's hair is so intrinsically connected to them on so many levels.

I am becoming aware that this is not uncommon. In fact, now that it's happening to me, I am becoming quite obsessed with looking at women's hair. From my desk above the high street, I look down on a lot of people during the day and can see that, actually, it's quite prevalent. Like that car you get that you've never noticed before, and suddenly everyone is driving one.

Hair works on three-month cycles, so it would take at least that long for any 'cure' to show results. But one step at a time.

Otherwise, work is work, and I won't bore you with all the excitement that happens there on a daily basis - you've heard it all before! 😝😜😜

The shop is going well, although yesterday someone walked out (unintentionally) without paying for cigarettes. I need to pay more attention. Anyway, hopefully that's the last time that happens to me!

My writing group met yesterday at a seafront cafe for our THIRD anniversary! It was absolutely lovely. We had a great meeting and discussed all the works that were presented, gorgeous food and, as always, wonderful company. I'm plugging away at my book and have made some forward progress in the past several days which pleases me, as I've been a bit stuck for a few weeks (again). I still need to go back and add some layers to the front so that characters and situations are more obvious and fleshed out, but at this point, I also think that moving forward is the way to go so that I can just get it finished and then start the first revision.

I'm off the week after next, a visit to my sister in Devon on the agenda. I'm really looking forward to it. Hopefully, there will be some good weather and we can get out and do a few things around the area while I'm there. I'll be leaving early Sunday morning and returning on Friday, after a visit to the market. I want a few hours at home before I have to work on Saturday.

It looks like the lad we thought was leaving, isn't, so I have my Sundays back, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. I have to remember that I do need time to rest and write and it might as well be Sunday!

Then there's Brexit (again. Still.). Hallowe'en deadline - appropriate, no? Latest (and first by BoJo) has been rejected, but of course, he's still convinced - he has to be, doesn't he? - that the EU will 'wave us happily good-bye on the 31st', with or without a deal. This has entirely consumed Parliament for three years, cost us millions (billions? Remember, we still have to pay a hefty 'divorce bill' of around £39bn regardless of whether we leave with a deal or not), and bulldozed over literally everything else that the country needs to worry about (jobs, housing, the environment, pensions, the NHS, etc., etc.). But here we are, the democratic process rolling along on square tires towards 'the end'...

Everyone's like, 'we'll be fine'. Perhaps, but how long will it take to recover? How will we be fine? What will people do? Banks? Insurance companies? Investments and real estate?How will travel be affected? Hospitality? Tourism? Goods and services being imported and exported? Farming? Manufacturing (what's left of it)? Fishing (what's left of it)? Security at the borders? The Irish border? Gibralter? Anyone?

I'm visualising the PM seeing himself as the proud captain at the helm of the newly launched 'Titanic'.

'Get ready for Brexit' is the rallying cry. But how? NO ONE KNOWS.

I'm just assuming it's going to be a surprise for everyone, including Parliament. There's so much in-fighting and quitting and intimidation and arguing and changing of parties happening it's ridiculous. Not that death threats and intimidation need to be added to the mix but apparently, MPs on both sides are getting them, and that's quite appalling, regardless of which side you sit on. I hope the perpetrators are caught.

Anyhow, onwards. It's all we can do, really. Most people are just sick and tired of hearing about it; apathy is high, although the Tories have lost their majority since the last bi-election and over the past few weeks when BoJo had a bit of a temper tantrum and fired a few of them. The Welsh elections lost him yet another seat, and I think there was a defector in the last couple of weeks, so they are now a minority government and it's unlikely that anything to do with Brexit will pass a vote. Anyone else seeing the iceberg yet?

Yet, still, no one has been able to answer my question of, 'What does Britain have to trade as a single market that the world will be lining up to get?'

Anyway, I am looking forward to my holiday in Devon. I've got a few things to take to my sister and picked up a couple more practical household items in the Sainsbury's discount section the other day, so they were good finds.

Hope you're all having a lovey weekend!

Friday, 27 September 2019

A few days off :D

I have some holidays to use up before the end of the year, so randomly chose this week to take some time off. Because, why not?

We went to Solihull on Monday for our training session which, apart from stupid start times, wasn't too bad overall. I was up at 4:45 and at the public car park at the office by 6:00. The MDs had hired a driver (I say!) which was actually a great idea because no way would I have wanted to tackle that drive either before or after the training session. The session was pretty much what you'd expect for a new programme, the basic walk-through of how it works, what we can do, what it does for us, etc. Five hours' worth...

We actually finished by 3:00 which meant we could get back earlier than we originally anticipated. Phew! The driver was great, actually, an interesting guy (and devoted dad to a 12-yr old girl), so all in all the 2.5 hours (each way) wasn't as bad as it could have been.

I got home not much later than I normally do, fortunately.

I was at the office on Tuesday until noon then had a hospital appointment. I've been going back and forth for about three years for the same procedure (dealing with hypoplasia) and the consultant wanted to make sure that the pathology was 'all clear' before signing me off. I've finally reached the point that he's happy enough to sign me off, but he said if I have any concerns to come back to them ("concerns" being a period, actually, as I've - hopefully, finally - stopped). I'm relieved. It was due diligence, as the risk of cancer was extremely low (5% over 20 years), but it's still one less thing to worry about. Hooray!

So, as I'd taken the afternoon off for that, I decided I might as well take some of my holiday time, too. It's been nice, actually, although I haven't yet really done anything that I planned. I took an extra shift at the shop on Wednesday night, and have Saturday and Sunday to work as well, so that will boost my next paycheque a bit. Apparently one of the lads is leaving, so it means that there are some shifts up for grabs which is good news for me. And Christmas is coming, too, which means plenty up for grabs, hopefully!

I spent yesterday doing a whole lot of nothing for the most part - fussing with my budgets endlessly, scrolling Twitter (I'm not even ON Twitter!), watching various ghost shows on YouTube...that's about it, actually, and somehow the hours melted away.

I planned to do more today and have so far checked 'groceries' off my list. It's now 11:20 a.m. So, yeah, hopefully, more productive than yesterday!

I'm reviewing my 'book' and finding all the things that need to be re-written/replaced, etc., but figure I'd best just 'get the words out' (as Roomie E says) before starting the next draft. I have to have something to re-draft after all! I've previously made some changes that mean the current iteration doesn't make any sense, but the point, I suppose, is that this is all part of the process. One word at a time...

My next holiday is in mid-October when I'm taking a few days to visit my sister in Devon. I'm taking her my bike, the bits & pieces I've bought for her, and I'll have to take my camp bed and bedding, as it's only a one-bedroom bungalow and she sleeps on an air mattress at the moment. I'll need somewhere to sleep, and I can leave the bed behind. She's booking massages in for us (hooray!), and we're going to a yoga class or two. She's going to check into goat yoga, as we're both hoping there will be a class available while I'm there. I'm looking forward to it, although I'm hoping I can borrow a sat nav from somewhere for the trip. I don't know my English geography well enough to just make a stab at it. Ha ha! I flap far too easily if I get stuck driving (because driving in the UK "kinda" sucks...).

Anyway, today I had planned to do some writing (of some kind) so I had best get on with it. The book will not write itself. At least it's raining, so I don't have to feel guilty about being inside. 😃😃

Saturday, 21 September 2019

Aaaaaaaand, done!

It's all done! And so quickly, too.

I got my bank transfer on Tuesday, immediately paid off my 0% interest card (£1100), and part of my 29.9% card (£790.45). Once the latter payment had cleared a couple of days later, I shoved the remainder (£1700) onto the 0% card, along with a small fee of £40.80, and that 'cleared' on 19.09.19.

For some reason, the date really pleased me - maybe it's all the 9's!

This did increase my Canadian LOC by $3300, but because I send Sterling on a reasonably regular basis and the exchange rate generally isn't too dire, I do get a bit more 'bang for my buck' so to speak and it allows me to pay an extra $10 or so here and there.

It means I can adjust some savings here a little bit, and free up a bit of cash to perhaps do a class of some kind one evening a week. 

Or not. Regardless, I'm feeling much lighter for having made this decision and even more so because it all happened so quickly and so smoothly.

Of course, now I'm fussing with my budget well into next year when I really have no idea what NEXT month is going to look like! I need to save a flat deposit and pay down/off my Visa. Those are my two financial priorities at the moment. It means I need to try and get a few extra shifts at the shop over the next few months, too, but that shouldn't be too difficult with the students now heading back to Uni. Hopefully, a few extra slots will be up for grabs on days that I can actually do them.

I've made a little bit of overtime this month (4 hours so far), and am going to rack up some more on Monday when we head north to Solihull (nr Birmingham in the Midlands) for a day of training for ANOTHER new system that we'll have to start using in the office. To say that we're not really excited about it would be 'a bit' of an understatement, but whatever. It will add to my paycheque next month too, so I'm pleased about that.

I bought my sister a fridge the other day, although not as a gift. She is going to pay me back for it. A fridge and washing machine are required items when you move into your own place here (at least it's not like Germany, where you have to supply your own entire kitchen!), and she's been eating convenience foods since she moved in. The little fridge wasn't that much and it's more or less a necessity. She doesn't have the funds for it, so I put it on my CC for her. Obviously, she'll be paying the interest on it as well.

Roomie E and I were talking last night about the flat. Lately, I've had this feeling of great anticipation, an almost physical reaction, to SOMETHING. Roomie E is hoping it's not bad, but it doesn't feel that way to me - it feels terribly exciting and HUGE, and like it's going to affect both of us, but in very different ways. But it's just out of reach at the moment.

I gave her and my neighbour a copy of my 'book' to read and I think my part of this 'thing' has something to do with that; hers is related to work and her career. She's given me some really great feedback on one of the characters that she's actually helped me create (a sommelier - weird! Ha ha!). I know there's a kernel of a really good idea there, so I've decided that if I'm going to do this, I need beta readers. I trust both of them to give me genuine, well-thought-out suggestions and comments on the story (which is a complete and utter mess at this point, basically stream of consciousness rubbish). I've learned that you cannot get better as a writer if you're not willing to take criticism/critique and take on board suggestions that will ultimately make your writing the best it can be.

Strangely, two of my current neighbours are actually characters in my book (even down to the same names)! They were written long before we moved in here, however, but I find the similarities quite spooky...

I've also taken a bit of a break from the cafe. I'm finding it a bit tough going now that I've got the shop on Saturday afternoons. I only have an hour in between the two to sit down and relax and eat, and it's a bit much. I've been at the cafe for two years, however, and am not ready to leave for good, just for a few months. I was really dreading going in this morning and that's not how I want to feel about it, because it's a lovely place to be. Thankfully, the manager understood, so while I was sorry to do it, it's the easiest thing to let go right now.

Today is supposed to be our last lovely day before a week of rain! It's been a lovely September so far, so I suppose, it being England, it was only a matter of time before the rain returned. At least it's still on the warm side.

Hope you all have a lovely weekend!

Sunday, 15 September 2019


Well, I went ahead and transferred money from my Canadian LOC yesterday. I re-read the offer I got, and although the transfer needs to be done by the end of September, the 0% extends to March 2021, which is definitely doable.

The transfer will clear the 0% interest CC, plus take £790.45 off the Visa which will then bring me to below the 90% maximum required for transferring the remainder to the 0% card (plus fee) and shave 29.9% interest from my monthly outgoing payments!

Even with the increase in my LOC, the interest rate is 'only' 11% (less than half the CC interest rate). I'll continue to pick away at it as I have been doing forever, but I feel this is a good solution. This 0% balance transfer offer is a one-time-only deal, so I feel I would be remiss in not taking the opportunity (speaking of signs, Treaders?).

I've made some o/t this month, the manager at the shop is going to look into my pay shortage (I believe I'm still owed 15 hours), I can cancel my £135 auto payment to my MC and leave my £40 auto payment in situ for the 0% card. I believe this will put me slightly ahead this month, and I'm hoping that with all the savings/shuffling of cash/overtime, I will be able to pay for my brakes without depleting my savings accounts.

It may require a slight increase in the monthly minimum payment on the 0% card but I foresee only about £10 if that's the case. That'll leave me more to put towards the LOC and my flat deposit. Plus, the satisfaction of knowing that every single (extra) penny that I put towards the 0% debt WILL BE BRINGING IT DOWN IN REAL NUMBERS.

It seems to make the most sense all 'round, really. Plus, this clearing of credit cards should help boost my credit rating. It's been quite soft the past few months, which is not ideal.

I actually got a set of keys for the shop yesterday, too, although I'm sharing them with someone and have to drop them off on Wednesday night for him. He apologised for forgetting about us last week and bought me a chocolate bar to make up for it (I chose a massive Galaxy bar, one of those that only the English have - 360g for £2).

Like I'd say 'no' to that? Ha ha! Anyway, there weren't any issues (thankfully!) and we were out of there before 9:15. So, at least I know what I'm doing now, although it's still frustrating to work with someone who struggles with knots...he does, however, know the till and lottery really well, so that's exceptionally helpful! We all have our forte, right?