Saturday, 20 July 2019

To apply or not to apply? This is my question.

I woke up this morning frustrated at my continuing situation of languishing in the pit of debt. One that I have, I admit, dug freely and enthusiastically by myself.

With Brexit looming (again. Still.) at the end of October - that ship being helmed and steered in some kind of direction (potentially straight into the 'no deal' iceberg) by the figure of, most likely, Boris Johnson ... *ahem* ... - and pundits and 'experts' on both sides of the aisle expressing concerns about food shortages, empty shelves, jobs disappearing, etc., I am starting to pay a lot more attention to what I currently owe (better late than never, I hope?). Taking on another loan in order to pay off my current ones somehow doesn't seem the best route at this point, but as I owe more than I make in a year, it's raised its head more urgently the past several weeks.

I could get a new job that pays me what I'm worth (or at least somewhat better), but despite my moaning, I'm not quite ready for that just yet, nor will it really free up a lot more money for me each month. While I enjoy my weekends, for the most part, I don't do much because I simply can't afford to. It's why I spend so much time reading. Apart from enjoying it so much, it's a cheap/free hobby and what I can afford.

To that end, I'm considering a second job. I've applied several times at the bookstore in Ringwood without success, unfortunately. Not necessarily a bad thing, as I found it a bit of a dangerous place to work before, what with decent product discounts. They are hiring a weekend bookseller again, however, 13.5 hrs a week, every weekend. I am reluctant because, a) my writing group meets on a Saturday, and I enjoy that far too much to step away from it even occasionally unless I genuinely can't avoid it, and b) the drive to Ringwood on weekends as well as during the week. It's only a half-hour, but wouldn't it be better to not to have to drive every single day, too?

So, with that in mind, I was fairly pleased to see a 'help wanted' kind of sign in the local Spar (a small convenience-store kind of place) which is a five-minute walk from the flat (!). Various hours which I'm sure I could work around without too much of an The minimum wage for those of us aged 26+ is £8.21 as of April (sadly, almost what I make in my f/t job if I break it down), which is fine for a second job. But do I want to kill myself for £300 +/- a month? Will it be worth it? Yes, IF I put the money I make towards hammering down my debt. There's no driving involved, so no extra petrol or wear and tear on the car; the shop is only open until 9 p.m. so just about my bedtime. I'm going to tweak my CV and call in at some point to see if I can talk to someone about it.

I want a flat and a cat(s) and some savings and be able to travel a little bit/have some fun. I don't have any of that at the moment. If it takes me six to eight months to clear the majority of my debt, then so be it. Will it absolutely suck? It absolutely will. But as I have no social life now, it will make no difference in that respect at all. I'm feeling very 'sacrificial' at the moment, but who knows? I may wake up tomorrow and feel very differently. I'm just trying to be practical, understanding that this debt is wholly mine and I hate it and I am determined to pay it off instead of taking another route, which I refuse to do. I want to retain a decent credit rating.

Back to working with the public (pardon me, but ugh). It doesn't feel particularly good, but working full-time does limit my p/t options somewhat, so this feels a bit like an opportunity to take advantage of.

I realise I'm the only one who can make the decision. The voice of Gail Vaz-Oxlade keeps rattling around my head, 'If you have debt, you need to do whatever you have to, to get rid of it.' I'm paraphrasing a bit, but that's the gist. I've tried to shift a few things online, but people only seem uber-keen if it's free, or maybe I'm just using the wrong sites. At any rate, I need to do SOMETHING and right now, this seems to be an option. There's no guarantee I'll even get a job, but I can at least try. A computer-generated 'staff wanted' sign smacks a bit of desperation, so I think I have at least a shot. They're obviously not inundated with resumes...

Otherwise, work has picked up a little bit this week with the director back in the office. Not by much, but a little, so that's something. Still no word about a review, though.

I got a free vacuum cleaner yesterday from a colleague who'd bought a new one and was going to donate her old one - a Dyson! It's a bit of a bigger and heavier upright than the one we originally had (and gave to Roomie E's colleagues when we moved in here). The previous tenant of our new flat left us his old one, but it's not great so I'm thrilled with the 'new' one. It had a fairly large hole in the hose, but I've put some packing tape around it and it should be fine. A Dyson - fantastic!

I was supposed to be at the cafe for a shift this morning but begged off yesterday because I've had such exceptionally poor sleep this week. I'm not sure why, but I keep waking up during the night, having slightly disturbing/disruptive dreams, etc. I felt utterly wretched yesterday and was actually a bit concerned about the drive home. It was fine, not too busy, but I very nearly took myself to bed at 6:45 (not kidding!!). I pushed myself to stay up until 9:00, and while I woke up once last night, I managed to fall asleep again and didn't wake up again until 7:00. I feel much better today, but just couldn't face a morning of coffee & tea making, no matter how much I enjoy it.

It was our downstairs neighbour's 95th birthday yesterday. I bought a card and a couple of cupcakes for her from both of us. Her son and his husband were here for a couple of days, and she showed me the decorations they'd put up for her when I went to see her this morning. She'd had 20 cards, which is a pretty substantial number considering her age, and they'd gone to a party last night where she'd seen some friends she's known for about 70 years! Amazing.

The book is making very slow progress. I've stalled again, although I can feel the ideas and thoughts bubbling away inside. Frustrated is the best way to describe how I'm feeling about it. I KNOW it's there, I can quite literally feel it, but I can't seem to get it out how I want it. I'm quite probably overthinking it all...

Anyway, I hope you all have a lovely weekend. The weather here is finally doing 'summer', at least for the next ten days or so, so that's something.

Sunday, 14 July 2019

Mid-July update

Well, we're getting there, piece by piece of stuff around the place. There are still things in the garage and the living room but as it belongs to Roomie E, I'm not touching it. I'm more or less happy with things the way they are at the moment and am just going to live with things the way they are for a bit before doing anything more drastic than moving things around a room.

I got rid of two pairs of shoes on Friday, which removed a bag from my bedroom floor. They weren't in awful condition and as I hadn't worn them for probably two years, I just shoved them in a bag and did it before I thought any more about it. There's a shoe & textile recycling bin near the office and I put them in there. Part of my reluctance of getting rid of things is that much can't be recycled and I hate throwing things in the garbage, although I know that's the only place some of it can go.

I'm also reluctant to get rid of everything pretty and fun because I want some things for my own place eventually, but current space is at a premium and I'm feeling a bit squeezed. Regardless, I like the flat and am finding my way into a new routine although I still feel a bit 'off', and I can't quite figure out why. I feel generally restless and have no idea why.

Roomie E has been away visiting her family in Italy for a week and comes back on Tuesday so I've had the place to myself which has been really nice. It's slightly small for two people sharing, and is more conducive to a single person or a couple. I can't afford it on my salary (even without debt payments), which is disappointing but is on par with Southern rental prices, unfortunately.

I'm struggling a little bit with my writing as well. After a couple of months of writer's block, I started again and pushed ahead reasonably well before stumbling to a halt again. I've got ideas but adding them in where I need/want them to go means almost a total rewrite from the beginning and I'm not sure that's what I need to do. I WANT to move forward, regardless of what winds up on the paper, so I think that's what I should focus on. I did buy some cue cards and am trying to figure out the best way to work up an 'old school' timeline. It hasn't got very far either. Ha ha! I'm frustrated because I feel the need to write, I just can't quite DO it or get it organised to do it. I'm probably overthinking it all.

In the meantime, I whizzed through the last three of four books in The Dales Detective Agency cosy series by Julia Chapman: Date with Malice, Date with Mystery and Date with Poison. This is set in the beautiful Yorkshire Dales, somewhere I'm keen to visit, and the fourth book is neatly tying up threads begun in the first, Date with Death. I wish I could write like Ms Chapman! Fantastic characters, beautiful descriptions of the dales, great mysteries and I'm hoping the next in the series will tie up all the ends, although that will mean the series is at an end and I'm not sure I'm ready for that. No 4 came out 27 June and I finished it on Friday, so it means at least a year's wait. *Sigh*

Work was very quiet last week. The director was on holiday, as was the office manager, and there wasn't much to do. By Friday we were feeling quite bored, so I think we're kind of looking forward to tomorrow when the director is back. We had fish and chips for lunch on Friday which was a nice treat, and quite delicious. 

I'm still waiting for my review.

Anyhoo, I've been contemplating starting running again, and today purchased twelve months of online yoga for £12 via Groupon to give that a try.

Otherwise, I've been pretty quiet around here, just concentrating on the new flat and trying to get a routine of sorts in place for my days off. It'll come, it's only been three weeks.

Sunday, 30 June 2019

Phew! New digs, finally.

Phew! It's done. Another new flat, unpacking, settling in - all that's still happening, but more or less we're under control and really pleased overall. 

It was a long, tough move, despite having the bonus of a garage at either end. I am VERY glad I had the week off for this.

We met our new landlords Wednesday afternoon at the estate agency and collected the garage key so we could start moving things. We did four runs in the car that evening, and the garage door broke the first time we tried to shut it - the cable that assists with lifting snapped (it was just time, it was completely rusted and frayed. It wasn't anything we did). We advised the agency and the landlord came by to have a look. They are a really nice, reasonable couple so I didn't expect any grief and didn't get any. He was perfectly accepting that it was just one of those things. It's since been repaired.

Thursday we had the cleaner in and did several more runs that afternoon, clearing out most of the boxes and 'little stuff' (of which there was/is a phenomenal amount). Out of one garage, into the other.

 We hired a van on Friday for the big stuff and return it only 5 hours later (!), so that was a huge accomplishment. We were thrilled to hear that we'd have the key early and could get started a day early (our official move-in day was 22 June). Roomie E had a couple of her colleagues come by for an hour and they helped immensely, bringing the beds upstairs, helping with boxes, etc. I've never ached so much in my life. It was one thing to move it back and forth from car to garage, but the new garage is a bit of a hike to the flat and then there's a flight of stairs...I was sore for DAYS!

We met all our new (immediate) neighbours, however. Derek, who lives downstairs and one flat over; Margaret, a fully-independent, amazing 95-year old who has turned the communal gardens into something absolutely glorious over the 30-years she's been here; and Charlie, who was a star and made us a cup of tea.

We are more or less settled, but literally, have only one storage closet in the place (we had four in the last flat). So there's stuff everywhere, despite getting rid of stuff. I've set up another box for donations and I have no doubt we'll fill it up.

My plants don't seem to be adjusting as well as we are and I can't quite figure out what the problem is. Where they currently are, in front of the window, isn't ideal for winter because the radiator is there and they'll dry out. But that's a few months away yet, and  I can't really fuss with them too much because we still have stuff all over the place. I'll just have to wait until we're more organised. They're okay where they are for the time being, but it's obviously not ideal. Anyway.

So, here's where we are now. It's still a work in progress, so please ignore the boxes, blank walls, etc.

Rear garden

Living room. Those windows!

Opposite side

Entry foyer and stairs


Front garden - the kitchen overlooks this.

My room, stuffed to the gills with...stuff. Feeling a bit claustrophobic, but it's the same stuff I had in the last one, just 1/3 the space to put it all in (I've spared you a glimpse under the bed, however)!

I'm actually pleased with the smaller space of my room. I don't believe there's a better way that I can set it up I just need to declutter, so this is all a really good exercise in 'what brings me joy' (if you haven't read/watched Marie Kondo, I recommend it - she's quite amazing).

We currently have no Internet but our 'star' neighbour Charlie has given us his wi-fi password and we're piggybacking until ours is set up, which is currently set up for Tuesday.

I was back at work last Tuesday and it was a loooooong week. Fortunately, the boss is away from next Wednesday for 10 days so we'll have a bit of peace & quiet.

My hospital visit of the 14th went well enough. There were four people besides me in the room - two nurses, the doctor (obviously) and another consultant. Wow. Awkward, but carry on...I wound up having a local anaesthetic ('there') and a bit of a reaction to it, but the doctor managed to get what he needed, proving that I actually hadn't needed to have a general the three previous times...ahem. Anyway, the doctor was a huge GoT fan so there was a lot of discussion about that. You know, what are you going to do when you're literally 'in that position'? Hoping, however, that this is the last time.

Anyway, outside of that excitement, I have been going to bed at 9 (earlier than Margaret - not kidding!) and sleeping THROUGH THE NIGHT since we've been here. That means about 8 solid hours a night, which is quite amazing. I also wasn't at work for most of that so I think that speaks volumes. Anyway, I'm not complaining at all, I'm thrilled. Obviously a good move. :)

Happy Canada Day weekend everyone! I'll be looking for some red & white flowers for the office tomorrow as my acknowledgement.

Thursday, 13 June 2019

June - and moving!

Word of the month: Feel (the feelings)

I'm on holidays starting today until 25 June. It's a miserable, wet, windy and cold June day (welcome, summer!) so after a couple of quick errands this morning, I decided to just take time to catch up on some emails and try to get a bit more organised for the move next week.

I have a hospital appointment tomorrow, so that will be most of my day gone, a shift at the cafe on Saturday morning, and then a few days to get the last of the bits & pieces organised for the move next Saturday. We're pretty organised, really, and I suppose it's just a matter of hoping the weather is clear(er) so that things don't get too wet and soggy on the day.

We never got our job reviews last month. One of our surveyors went sick, so a few jobs had to be rearranged (unforeseen, so okay...sort of). We didn't get an acknowledgement or apology until a couple of days later, so I wasn't particularly impressed. It was rescheduled and then cancelled. Again. And again, without acknowledgement or apology. So, I'm still waiting if no one else is. All things I'm taking note of for when I legitimately start looking for a new job.

To that end, I've been feeling particularly tetchy and frustrated at work for the past couple of months. So I made a 'proactivity' list in my handy dandy journal, things that I need to do to stay forward focused: looking at evening/online courses, completing a National Career Service 'Skills Health Test' (check!), updating my CV, clearing clutter, writing my book, etc. Things like that. Taking little steps forward is better than feeling like you're stuck and going nowhere. Or worse, backwards!

But the biggest thing happening right now is, obviously, the move. We've got someone coming to collect the sofas early next week, the cleaner next Thursday, carpets are being done next Friday - when we also pick up our moving van - and then Saturday we need to ensure everything is out and the keys at the estate agents by 4:00. 

We've already started moving boxes and things into our garage so the place is looking a bit bare. We're collecting the key for the garage at the new flat next Thursday and will start moving things over there then (we are SO lucky to have this as an option!). Friday will be packing up the van and moving what's left over there, apart from beds, etc., and we should be finished well before 4:00 on Saturday. There should only be one trip with the van and as it has to be back for noon on Saturday, we should be absolutely fine if we start first thing. Our neighbours across the hall volunteered their services and Nissan Pathfinder for assistance if required, which is really kind!

We've learned that moving on a Saturday in England is completely inconvenient - no one seems to work on weekends (carpet guys, cleaner, Internet techs, van rentals...). Noted for the next one!

Mrs May has stepped down as PM but remains in charge until a new leader is selected, which is in process. All the hopefuls are on about Brexit, but I am expecting much egg on faces in the run-up to the new leave date - Hallowe'en! I think he (because the female hopefuls haven't made it through the initial round of conservative party leadership votes) is kidding himself that he can do better. There's plenty of strutting and preening happening, and lots of overconfident waffling and tooting of horns, but the EU has already said they won't be making any concessions, changes or other agreements on what has already been agreed. So it's that or nothing. Good luck!

Anyway. I've also been coming up with some ideas for my book, which is great but means having to more or less rewrite everything I've already got down which is a bit frustrating. I'm opting at this point to just keep notes and peck away at Chapters 1 and 2 so that I can get the initial characters and potential suspects sketched out. The point is to get it all down on paper, knowing that it's going to be really rubbish/rough, and then go back and review, amend, rewrite, etc. Patience and persistence, right?

I keep getting tempted by 'preapproved' loan offers from my bank. I was playing with some numbers today, but need to just stop doing that and focus on reducing my debt the old-fashioned way for the next few months. I'm not entirely ruling out another loan, but I'm going to see how much I can hammer it down before making any further decisions about it. Plus crunch some numbers and see if it'll just make things worse.

Wish me luck for the move and I'll update from the 'other side' - with photos!

Monday, 27 May 2019

May post!

Word of the month: Nourish

Well, it might as well be June, really, at this point. Phew! Today is the first full weekend day off I've had to post all month. It's our late May spring bank holiday and, boy!, do I feel like I need a full day to do not a lot.

The first weekend of May I was housesitting.

The following weekend I went to Wales with my cousin to visit our auntie and uncle, then cleaned for my friend at the AirBnB (I took the Friday & Monday off - and am glad I did!).

The next weekend I worked at the cafe on Saturday and cleaned the AirBnB.

Saturday, I met a couple of Canadian friends out near Gatwick Airport to spend a few hours catching up and wandering around the beautiful gardens of Nymans Gardens, a National Trust property. I hadn't seen them in 10 (!!) years, and am thrilled we were able to make a meeting happen. It was a 6.5 hr (return) train journey for me, but well worth it. They're here to bird watch, visit gardens and have a holiday, albeit it just for a week (this time). I met them when we all lived in Whitehorse. They've just recently moved to Nova Scotia from BC. It was a very long day (for all of us), but very, very worth it.

Yesterday I did my final clean at the AirBnB. The house is (actually, genuinely) sold now, and this is the last time I'll spend any time there. Quite sad, really, and our friend is genuinely depressed about leaving it. It's the best thing that could happen, though, as she's struggling to maintain it so this is the best outcome. She's going to spend a year in Norfolk, then make a decision where she wants to be. That times perfectly with our new lease (although that reverts to an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) - month to month - lease after 12 months) and my continued desire to live alone. Anyway, that's over a year away at this point, so there's no point speculating on what will happen in a year, although a year is both a very long and very short time away.

Today I am puttering. I've swept the garage so it's ready to take packed boxes from the flat, dropped Roomie E at work, and don't really intend to do much more, other than sitting down to do some writing. I haven't done any of note since the end of March (!), so I'm doing a bit of rewriting of bits that currently are too convenient/no longer make sense/etc. At least I've been getting some ideas popping up recently, and I think that's because the move is, for the most part, all sorted.


Carpet cleaners booked. Cleaner booked. Furniture bought from the current tenant at the new place (he offered when we were looking around! Ha ha!). We need a van yet, but Roomie E is going to take care of that over the next couple of days. We're not getting movers this time - we're going to do it ourselves. Cheaper but harder work. Anyway, wish us luck!

I've taken holidays from 13-24 June which covers the entire moving arc because I don't want to get too stressed about it. Also, because Roomie E gets only until 6pm on moving day (!!) to get as much done as she can, I think a lot of unpacking and set up will be up to me. So that's fine.

Tomorrow is my long, long overdue review at work (they were waiting on the Brexit results...and finally got tired of it), and I'm not sure if I'm looking forward to it. I suppose I am, as I'm not really expecting anything dramatic or unexpected to come up. It's just nice to sit down and hear what they have to say, really. I think I'd know by now if I was doing a crummy job!

Brexit continues to wreak havoc - Thursday's EU elections decimated the Conservative and Labour Parties (no surprise). The Conservatives returned the worst results since, I think, 1894!! Nigel Farage - one of people behind the original Brexit movement - and his new Brexit Party, formed a scant 6 weeks ago, have raced to the top of the heap. He promises to deliver Brexit (as a No Deal option only, apparently), but I think he's dreaming. I would love nothing more than to see the smug, self-satisfied grin wiped off his face.

I'm not sure how this new EU parliament is going to go forward. France has gone slightly right-wing with Le Pen, although only by a percentage point or two and Macron remains President; Merkel slipped in again, followed by the Greens (hooray); and the Greens and Lib Dems made great strides here in the UK as well which is good news. It's almost a 50/50 pro/leave Brexit mix, however, in Brussels now. The next several years will be very interesting and possibly very unpleasant.

Mrs May resigned on Friday. 7 June is her last day as PM. I wish good luck to the incoming PM, whoever s/he might be. I'd also like to remind them of all the other issues that have been ignored/forgotten over the past 29 months and ask that they please focus their attention to those as well.