Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Looking up!

Well, I finally heard from the Donkey Sanctuary and unfortunately I was unsuccessful there. I got some great post-board feedback though, which is always beneficial, so can learn a lot from that.

I was getting anxious this morning, as I had the other job offer hanging in the wings, and leaving it too long looks bad for many reasons: it could indicate that I can't make decisions, it leaves the Agent in an awkward position as the go between, and the employer could change their mind because they don't think I'm serious about it.

I called the Sanctuary and fortunately it didn't take someone long to get back to me and update me. I was then able to accept the job with the chartered survey company. I am genuinely thrilled to be starting there - I'm a bit nervous as it sounds like it can get quite busy, but the more confident and comfortable I get, the better I'll be. I'm confident the right choice has been made, although I'm a bit disappointed Sanctuary job didn't come through after all. But to be able to stay in the New Forest is not a bad consolation prize by any stretch of the imagination!

I was offered the opportunity to do some temp work if it came up, but opted to just enjoy the rest of my time off before I start working again. It's been really good for me, and overall I feel much more positive and relaxed.

My sister and I went to the oceanside village of Lymington yesterday for a few hours. It's quite a pretty village, although it was drizzly and cool for the most part. We had lunch and poked around a little bit. I bought some t-shirts for my hike in September, a book (£1!), some cake, went to the bank, and I picked up a few things at the chemist. Then we went to another, smaller, inland village called Burley. It's in a lovely spot, but is limited with respect to village business. It's got some witch shops and I bought several new crystals there, but otherwise there isn't much around and we left after a brief visit.

Today is puttering on the computer, but tomorrow needs to be a bit more focused and productive: laundry, unpacking the bags that are lying around my room and putting things away, some reading...

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Interviews and photos and whatnot

It's been a busy two weeks - and I'm definitely not complaining. It's been really good to spend time with family and keep myself moving, rather than lazing around my room in London and spending too much time by myself and in my head.

First up was a trip to Wales, which is always lovely. The weather was fantastic for the most part and my sister, cousin and I took a walk one day to a place called Ogmor Castle, about 1.5 hours from Carmarthen. We spent most of the day there, returning about 5pm.

There's a nature preserve in between the castle and the coast and it takes quite a long time to slog through the dunes to reach the beach, but reach it we did and we spent some time relaxing by the water.

While we were in Wales, my sister, cousin and I started our own investment group! We got very excited about learning about the stock market, buying shares, etc. so set up an online bank account for our funds. We're each going to invest £20 per month and when we get to a particular amount, say, £250, roll it over into some stocks or shares on the stock market and see where it takes us. We've started the initial research into the FTSE 100, how to buy, where the best place to invest is, etc. It's tapered off a little bit the past few days, but I certainly have time over the next week to clarify a few things with the bank we chose, do a little research, and send out some thoughts on some stocks I think would be a good buy. At this point, it's small potatoes, so we're not going to see big returns, but the more comfortable we get, the more we learn and the more risks we're willing to take (diversifying as much as we can when we get to a point that it's feasible) then hopefully we'll be able to get to the point of seeing our money working much harder for us, rather than us working harder for it.

As I had an interview with an agency on Monday, so we headed back to England on Sunday, stopping at another cousin's place near Bristol to visit for a few hours. Although it's always fantastic to see her and the family, it's never often enough.

Tuesday afternoon, my sister and I headed to Sidmouth, in the beautiful county of Devon. We took a bit of a roundabout route to get there (unintended), and it took us almost 4 hours - the regular route takes 2.5. Still, we weren't in any particular hurry and it was quite a lovely trip. A bit drizzly and foggy (!) once we got closer to the coast, but otherwise uneventful. Our hotel was basic, but comfortable and only a few minutes walk from the seafront. Sidmouth itself is a typical seaside town, a bit tired and in need of some TLC, but has everything you would need (including a great looking art store, a health food store, a cinema, and a fab yoga studio). It's located on the Jurassic Coast of England, which is filled with the bones of prehistoric creatures, millions of years old. It has soft red cliffs, which is a bright contrast to the green fields and pastures and not what I was expecting. For some reason I thought they would be gray!

Anyway, I had my interview at the Donkey Sanctuary on Wednesday morning and am still waiting to hear the results. I feel it went quite well, but it can be hard to tell sometimes. I know I could have answered some questions much better, but did very well on others, so it's up to the interviewers now. I hope to hear tomorrow.

I would love this job. It's a new position, so is a 'make it your own' position. I can start with a blank page and get myself organized and set up just how I like. The area is beautiful, it's in the middle of nowhere (as far as anywhere in England can actually be at least), by the ocean and I'd be working with animals, something that I would really be able to get behind and honestly get joy from. Fingers crossed please everyone!

There are a few blind/vision impaired donks in this paddock. They have their own sighted donkey pals who lead the around!

We spent a couple of hours wandering the grounds after my interview and it's beautiful. There are 500 donkeys at this sanctuary (the 'HQ' of 5 around the UK), each with its own story. They have sanctuary for life and some are used as therapy donkeys, some are blind, some are just old. They are well cared for and well loved here for the rest of their days. They really are quite lovely animals.

Thursday afternoon I had an interview with a chartered surveying company in Southampton. I challenged myself and drove to town (!) and once I'd parked, promptly got myself turned around trying to get out of the parkade. I arrived at the office several minutes late after taking the long way around, but that was okay because the interviewers were trying to fix an Internet issue so were later than me! Phew... :)

The interview went well (I have since had the job offer, so if the sanctuary position doesn't come through, I am still good to go - as soon as I accept it that is) and it sounds busy and challenging, so I'm well pleased. I'm still also getting calls from agencies who have found my CV online and are calling about positions I might be interested in, so overall the time away from work has been positive, fun and very worthwhile. I'm feeling better and now that I'm settled back in the New Forest - for now - already I'm more relaxed and happy.

Friday my sister and  I headed back to London to collect the last of my things and my rent deposit. We spent the morning in another New Forest village - Brockenhurst - and found ourselves at one point in a herd of donkeys (hmmm...how's that for a sign?).

This little foal is less than a week old. The babies are so cute!

Beautiful ponies.

Traffic jamming. No matter what, you are NOT allowed to rush the animals in any way. If that means getting stuck behind them while they wander, so be it. Which is exactly what this herd did. There were more than half a dozen vehicles behind them crawling along until the donkeys decided to get off the road. 

Truly, who can stay miserable around here? It's magical!

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Planning to plan for Big Plans - plus photos!

Look at me, blogging twice in a week! It's almost like I have time on my hands or something...

I've had another up and down week, but am feeling quite positive today. I'm off to the Hampton Court Flower Show with my friend and her mum, so am really looking forward to that. Hampton Court was on my 'to do' list, so this crosses that off with a bit of a bonus. The flower show is a big one, on the scale of the Chelsea Flower Show, so it will likely be busy and quite fantastic. We're heading over about 11:00.

I've been awake since just after 5:00 - not unusual. There was a thunderstorm and some rain last night, which has cooled things nicely. It's supposed to get sunny and warm later in the day, but I for one am certainly appreciating the drop in temperature this morning. Quite refreshing!

So what's been going on?

Monday I took myself to Wisley Gardens, a Royal Horticultural Society garden about 20 mins drive from me. I'd been once before, but just sequestered myself on a bench by a pond to do some reading in the fresh air rather than walking around. This visit I spent time wandering around the acres of beautiful and well-tended gardens. I was there for about three hours, stopping on occasion to just relax and read my book. Some photos below, showing only a small selection of the huge variety of plants and flowers they propogate. There's still more to see, as I didn't see the entire place - it's very big! I've got plans to go back with a friend sometime in the next couple of weeks.

These are very new, very fuzzy Moor Hen chicks. The sun was directly behind me, so I couldn't see the screen on my phone very well, hence the slightly out of focus photo.

The past couple of days I've been feeling a bit better about things (except the heat). A woman at one of the agencies I've been in contact with (and with whom I've got an initial interview on 13th July) sent me an online assessment to complete - audio typing, Word processes, etc. I blew the audio typing one, but the rest of the assessments put me in the Advanced category for Word & typing speed, which negated the audio portion. Regardless, she sent me the audio typing one again and I did MUCH better the second time around, which pleased me no end. I know I'm good at this stuff; sometimes you just need a little reminder now and again to boost your self-confidence again.

I was also told that the company she was recruiting for - a chartered surveying company - wanted to interview me as well. So I now have an interview with them on 16th July!! Very excited. I won't know about the job at the financial company probably until some time next week, but hopefully I'll at least get an interview. Always good experience, even if you don't get the job. I'm still terrible at interviews, so have to take some time to prepare properly. There are loads of interview websites out there with excellent suggestions about what to say, what to ask, what NOT to say (!), etc. An hour or two spent on there, along with some thinking about my work experience and various scenarios and finding something appropriate to wear (I'm not a clothes horse) and I should be fine.

I ALSO got a phone call from the Donkey Sanctuary and was invited to interview with them on 15th July!!! So excited!!! It's 2.5 hours from the New Forest, so I've provisionally booked a hotel for the night of the 14th for me and my sister. It's definitely doable as a day trip, and the hotel can be cancelled up to the 13th July if needs be, but I just thought that we might as well enjoy it a bit while we're at it. Either way, it will be fun.

I took myself to the town of Weybridge on the train on Wednesday. I hadn't really been and wanted to find myself some new thrift store duds. I'm not sure I have the patience for that sort of thing. I stopped in a few and saw a bag I really like, so I'm planning a return visit on Monday to get that. I may do another, more thorough, search for clothes. I wasn't there long, as I wanted to get a few items and once I'd done that, I was pretty much done. One high street, after all, is much like the next really.

Yesterday I paid for my walk at Hadrian's Wall, which I'm doing with Jane in September. I ended up putting it on my CC (my Canadian one). I've been putting aside money each week to this point for it, but I simply wasn't going to make it, particularly as I'm in that in-between place where I'm not replenishing anything and still have two weeks to go before I get my rent deposit back. The CC was the only way to go if I wanted to do this and I reallyreallyreallyreallyreally did. I need to do the walk and I have to say that, when I emailed Jane to let her know, I did tear up. It was the same feeling that pushed me over here, so I know it was the right thing to do, regardless of the additional debt I've taken on for it. It will be SO worth it. And so much fun! I'm really excited about doing this with Jane, too. It'll be amazing.

So, definitely feeling much better today. I suppose it's just a matter of DOING things and feeling like something gets accomplished every day, pushing you forward rather than just letting it pass you by in a blur of pajamas, Facebook, reading and overanalysing everything that enters your head.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015


Stonehenge, March 2014

Unlike Dannie over at "My Ultimate Life List" I didn't attend the Solstice celebrations at Stonehenge - 23,000 people is a BIT out of my comfort zone (btw, if you haven't read her blog, I suggest you have a peek - she's got a truly amazing bucket list!). Although having said that, it would be kind of cool place to go, particularly as you can apparently get right up and personal with the stones, rather than viewing them from a safe (for the stones) distance.

We're in the middle of a bit of a heat wave here - I know! Where AM I, right? - and I think most of the planet must have a much higher heat tolerance than I do because I hibernate when the temperatures go above about 20C. I swell up and it's incedibly uncomfortable for me. This week we're supposed to get in the neighbourhood of almost 33C! Yikes! I had a couple of outings planned, but may postpone until it cools a bit.

I finished work on June 12th - a week early! - and am really happy with how it worked out. I wasn't supposed to finish until the 19th, as I mentioned in my last post, but on the 9th, the Tuesday, I mentioned to the accountant that I wished I had said the 12th when my manager and I were first discussing this last month after she got back from holiday. I was feeling all over the place that day - frustrated, angry, like I wanted to cry, missing The Scot...I don't get emotional generally, not even when I get my period, so this was a bit confounding to me. The accountant said she wasn't going to say anything, but saw an opportunity and did. My manager/friend called me that evening, we had a bit of a chat and she was perfectly okay with me leaving a week early. We both knew I didn't want to be there and my mind wasn't in it. I was so relieved I cried! On and off all night actually. I didn't realise quite how heavily it was weighing on me.

So. That's done. I've learned a huge amount, but it's now almost 3 weeks on and quite frankly? I'm bored. I'm having to delve into my savings to ensure that I've got enough money to cover my expenses the next several weeks, until I go back to my cousin's. I've been catching up on loads of British dramas ("Broadchurch", "Scott & Bailey", "Vera", and I'm currently watching "Whitechapel", which are all excellent), reading, and unfortunately, starting to feel really down and depressed. Part of it is because I didn't really start looking for work until last week, so have just been 'coasting' along. Being proactive makes everything so much better!

I don't have much "free" cash either, which is also part of the problem, so I'm a bit limited in what I can actually do. Driving means using petrol and parking fees, trains mean tickets, places mean entrance fees, etc., but I'm planning a few outings at least. I'm going to the Hampton Court Flower Show on Saturday with my friend and her mum, and I'm really looking forward to that as Hampton Court is on my to do list before I leave London and the Flower Show is just a bonus. It's going to be fantastic. Heaving, hot and likely will push the limits of my 'people patience', but fantastic nonetheless. I have Windsor Castle on my list, too, and will be taking the train there - only 1/2 an hour and I won't have to contend with the horrific parking options (or lack thereof) here.

I've made more of an effort to get myself out there the past few days. Last week I updated my CV and sent it back to the agency I was with in Southampton last year. I also updated it on a couple of websites, sent off to a few vacancies, and on Friday things started to trickle in. My cousin sent me an email early this morning with FIVE agency phone numbers in it! I've already spoken several times to one of the agencies on it, but I took myself over to the library today - ostensibly to take out some books, but it didn't open until 2, so I instead spent an hour and a half having a picnic and making some phone calls. I'm now registered with two more agencies and one lady is even going to forward my CV to a job that she thinks will work really well for me - working with a financial advice company. The recruitment closes on Friday, but I was quite keen, especially as both the offices are in central Southampton, less than 10 mins walk from the main station. 

Another job I've got my fingers crossed for is a position with a donkey sanctuary in Devon! I'm not sure I've got all the necessary qualifications, but when I saw the job advertisement I cried a little bit, so I think that's a good sign! I should know one way or the other about that in a few days. That would be a much bigger decision and a huge move, but I think it could be really worth it.

I was feeling quite down when I headed out this morning, but after making my phone calls, having my picnic (sans books, sadly) and spending some time in the fresh air by the river with some ducks, I feel much more buoyed up. Knowing that I'm being SEEN out there is a huge boost and I've had some very positive feedback too, so that helps.

My sister is back in the UK after a long walk in France. She managed 450km and felt it was time to stop. She's here for a few weeks then heading back to Canada to walk around Newfoundland with a group of women writers. After that, she'll likely head back to the West Coast to see our mother, then I believe, unless it's changed again, the plan is to head to Australia. Permanently. The plans could change again tomorrow and possibly already have!) but that's the last I'd heard. She and I are planning a trip to Wales in the next while, although it's becoming a bit tricky as we don't have any set dates and I've got a few commitments to meet in there too.

It'll work out. It always does. :)

Saturday, June 6, 2015

More changes and stuff...

One of the breathtaking cakes created at Choccywoccydoodah in Brighton.

Two more weeks of work to go! I still regret (a bit) not negotiating the 12th June instead of the 19th, but here I am, with the end in sight - at last! I don't feel unhappy about it at all and am looking forward to simply not being at work. I'm planning at least a couple of weeks off, just to relax and try to organize my thoughts and my plans and spend time doing a bit of sightseeing around the area. My sister has suggested I go to France and visit her (in Toulouse) for a few days, which I'm seriously thinking about. I just have to try to justify the expense, although I can get pretty cheap flights out of London. I haven't been anywhere 'international' yet, so the lure is definitely there. Hmm..

I saw a psychic last Friday which was great! She was lovely and the reading was very positive overall, and actually mirrored my reading in January in several aspects which I found quite neat. Namely, my current job and the fact it's not for me, I'll be moving onto another one that is and which will include learning (possibly a language!), and a new, proper love. Horses were mentioned, money was mentioned, travel/work 'over water' was mentioned (she seems convinced I'll be moving back to Canada for work and not too far in the future. I don't believe this or, rather, I don't WANT to believe this...not yet, at least). I recorded this one as well, so it will be interesting to spend some time reviewing and seeing what information overlaps.

On a sadder note, The Scot and I are definitely over. I am both sad and a bit relieved by this, although it didn't end particularly well. It's a bit tricky to explain, but suffice it say he blames me and I refuse to accept 100% responsibility for a relationship that had the both of us in it. I think we both did well at not bringing the relationship into work, but while we did talk about work to a degree (something I was never really comfortable with), the past several weeks I've felt like he was interrogating me. He got the feeling I was 'playing' him. For someone who prides himself on reading people, he couldn't see that I was uncomfortable and reluctant to discuss what he was asking me about. For my part, I simply did not say that I was reluctant and uncomfortable. He has since accused me of lying about what was going on and he's hurt and feeling disrespected on a personal level because of it, after giving me every opportunity to talk about it. I respect that he takes honesty very seriously. I shut down when confronted with uncomfortable things and it's not that I lie - I omit. Definitely a gray area, I know. My take on this whole thing? Two imperfect people who liked each other really a lot fumbled their way into a relationship with ghosts of past relationships tagging unceremoniously along with them, and subconsciously or otherwise, brought in the same reactions and expectations and sabotaged it. I REALLY, REALLY need to communicate things so that I set healthy boundaries, garner a little respect for myself and learn that what I like, need and want is also important and necessary in a relationship. I compromise far too much to please other people and keep the peace and it backfires every single time. Compromising what I want and need only hurts me in the end.

I don't want to spend time overanalyzing things and wondering what coulda, shoulda, woulda happened because that will just make things more cloudy. It doesn't help him, however, that he called one of the other installers on Monday morning and ranted down the phone to him (prior to 'having a chat' with me at work) then got into it again with him on Tuesday morning, afterwards having words with my manager. She's sufficiently fed up with his attitude and lack of work that she's decided to manage him out. He's really shot himself in the foot with the way he's been acting lately. I've had a couple of good chats with her about the whole thing and while I'm not proud of acting so unconsciously when I was trying hard not to repeat my past mistakes, I do not regret for one instant getting involved with him. He has many redeeming qualities (as we all do), but also some not-so redeeming ones that he needs to see and pay attention to (as we all do). Much of this stems from his background (rather dark, lots of street smarts, having to keep on your toes and be hyper-aware of what's going on around you), but I suspect that on some deeper level he's actually looking for things to prove his suspicions are correct that you're untrustworthy, a liar, a cheat, etc. The installer he argued with said that he doesn't like talking with The Scot because he manipulates a conversation and when I heard that, my little inner voice went 'ping!' as that was a big issue in my last relationship.

Anyway, that's enough of that. I accept that I have some responsibility for the way this ended, but am obviously getting ready to move on and start fresh - again - in the New Forest.