Sunday, 29 July 2018

Finally, rain!

We have had WEEKS of hot weather - not just pleasant, warm days that hover around the low 20s. No, up in the high 20s & up into the 30s (Friday reached 37C in some areas!). I think we're at five weeks now. That's a long time.

I'm not a heat fan, not with consistent temperatures like that. I'd love a few weeks with temperatures hovering around 21/22C and some evening rains to make the gardens and creatures who rely on the water happy, but I hibernate or seek shade if it gets hotter than that. Living as close to the ocean as we do, however, the temperatures have been much more pleasant, particularly in the evening. I open the windows and patio door and the breeze flows through and freshens the flat beautifully. I love that.

Grass is brown and dry as tinder all over. Trees are losing their leaves (it looks like autumn around here!), plants and animals are struggling in the relentless heat. Farmers are concerned about crops. On the flip side, bees and butterflies are prolific - they love the heat and numbers are good. But rats are becoming a problem - I didn't know they could reproduce monthly - and even I've seen about half a dozen, which is unusual.

Yesterday, after a middle of the night thunderstorm (which I slept through) and a little rain, it was terrifically windy ALL day. Always the sign of a storm coming in. Clouds blew overhead on and off all day and it was noticeably cooler. I awoke this morning to the same wind and rain on my windows! It's going to be a wet, miserable, windy day all day today. 

Fantastic! And so, so, SO desperately needed, even temporarily. We're forecast to get back to a stretch of sunshine tomorrow but with temperatures not quite as high, so that's a relief.

What else has been going on?

I've been feeling less confused about things since my last posting (a good thing) and am just letting things lie for the moment. 

Roomie E got home from a visit to Italy on Friday and we bought a table that evening. We had one temporarily from our old landlady but she took it back. She backed out of the house sale in June - after all that chaos over the past few months - and has opened a B&B of sorts. Uncertain that the legalities of it have been formalised (or even considered), but that was annoying to hear. Anyway. Not my problem.

The table arrived yesterday morning and I spent a couple of hours putting it together. It's even more cheaply made than I thought it would be. I have no idea what kind of wood it is, but it serves its purpose and that's the main thing. So much nicer to sit at a table to eat! I sat at it most of the day yesterday doing one thing and another.

There was a rather terrifying police incident in the building foyer last Sunday (very early morning). I can't/won't go into detail about it, but suffice it to say that when I was doing laundry yesterday and the drum started to bang against the machine, I jumped about three feet. It's brought a lot of old PTSD issues to the fore. I can say that I hope the fellow involved is okay. He was experiencing extraordinary mental distress and had had some kind of breakdown (not helped by a large amount of alcohol). The police were great and I sent them a note to say 'thank you' as it was a rather difficult arrest for them. The person involved was also staying in the building - his parents live upstairs. I dropped them a note as well (they slid one through all the building residents' doors to explain what happened).

The week following was mercifully back to normal but I was completely drained on Monday. I hadn't managed to go back to sleep on Sunday and was up until 10:00 that night. Ugh.

Anyway. I've also managed to save £100 on my car insurance this year by removing an item from the policy, so I'm pleased about that.

I did have to add £10 to my monthly fuel expense, however. It's costing me more than I thought, but have learned early, fortunately and can adjust the budget accordingly.

I am, however, still spending too much otherwise. I've bought a couple of impulsive purchases on Amazon (one of which is definitely going back) and found some great deals at the thrift shops and a mid-season sale sweater. My trouble is getting rid of things now - I need a much more effective rollover process by now.

I've also been stuffing my face with carbs which hasn't helped my weight issues and I'm 'fitting well' into my Size 14 everything. I didn't realise carbs converted into so much sugar, so they're definitely on the '(much) less of' list. To that end, I thought I'd give Huel a shot. It's a vegan meal replacement (funded by Sir Andy Murray - yes, that one) and it cost me £45 for 28 meals. That's one meal a day for almost a whole month and even considering the cost of that initial payment (it's cheaper if you get a subscription), it still fits perfectly into my monthly grocery budget (works out to £10 per week and £1.61 per meal). I'm going to see how I feel at the end of the month before I decide whether or not I want to continue. It arrives on Tuesday.

Yesterday I was feeling at a bit of a loose end so sat down to work on my bullet journal. This is a new(ish) fad that combines a diary/agenda/to-do list/etc. in one journal. You can make it as fancy or as simple as you like. Some of the pictures on Pinterest are gorgeous, but I don't have the time or inclination to create works of art. I want it to be fun, easy, and simple so that I don't begrudge the time I spend on it, or lose interest in it. I've already torn out and restarted a few pages and have barely made a dent. Good thing I have a list of what I want to lay out (sort of!).

Anyway, August is just around the corner and another month to start fresh with. I will continue to plot and plan and adapt my budget as I go.

Hope you're all having a great weekend and summer!

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.