Friday, August 26, 2016

IT'S TODAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Jane arrived yesterday and has been taunting me with how fabulous our first B&B is.

T-minus 4 hours until take off for me...

See you in two weeks! :D

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Anniversary!


My anniversary at work (if you will) was August 3 - one whole year already! That went fast. 

It's been a year of learning curves, feeling frustrated and stressed at times, bored at others, but overall I believe I've done very well. For the most part, I understand what I'm doing and have been given more to do, have found my work rhythm and know what I can complete in a day and how quickly I can do it. 

And yesterday I was told I have an extra holiday day now! Yay!


I can either use it this year or roll it over and add it to next year's (giving me a total of 22 days). Tempting to use it this year, but once I've come back from Ireland there isn't really anything pressing I want to do so, at this point, I will roll it over and perhaps take a long weekend somewhere. I have places I want to go (European destinations) and people to see there, so having an extra day to use as and when would be terrific.

But (you knew there'd be one, didn't you?) doing a pros and cons list, let's see how it really looks.

Pros:

1. Lovely colleagues!
2. Steady, regular income.
3. They bought me an annual train pass!!
4. We're (finally!) getting new chairs.
5. Interesting sector of work (construction related, and I love construction and anything 'house-y' and real estate related) and one that's absolutely ruined me for a future home purchase (but not in a bad way - just makes me more aware of what to look out for).
6. I'm comfortable and confident in what I'm doing/saying/telling clients.
7. An easy, straightforward, non-stressful commute.
8. I'm good at it and, for the most part, like it.
9. Dog Tuesday - one of my colleagues brings her dog into the office. It's my favourite weekday. :)

Cons:

1. I'm Bored (see the 'for the most part' qualifier in #9 above).

Yup, the ultimate motivation killer - boredom. 

I'm aware that all jobs become routine after a time - what would we do without it? - but there's no room for growth, which is a bit limiting in the long run because the company is so small. Everyone has their job.

It's why I enjoyed the week the MD was away - it was quiet and I was away from my desk and working on a - not insubstantial - project. It appealed to my mild OCD and need for order - which only manifests at work - and it felt great to accomplish such a much-needed, albeit dirty, job. I need more projects like this or one that I can pick away at weekly, monthly, etc. and that has a proper result at the end of it.

Do I want to leave? Yes and no. No, because I think I need the stability for a bit and I DO like it. I'm tired of job hopping if I'm honest.

Yes, because...bored and no growth potential.

And that's the reason I was contemplating going back to school, which I've since decided isn't a good idea this year. I'm going to leave this on the back burner at the moment and assess how things look next year. I definitely need to be further ahead in debt reduction before I take on something like that again.

I'm hoping that I can have a discussion with the Directors at my annual review and work out some kind of a project with them. A continuation of what I started would be great, but there has to be something - marketing? Some kind of writing? Learning some of the HR aspects? I don't know.

Anyway, I'm hoping for a positive review regardless and hopefully a little pay rise.

But I also think I just need a more fulfilling life OUTSIDE of work. There are so many things I like, but that I just don't do: bike riding, photography, writing, walking...Instead, I spend most of my free time either watching TV (okay to a point) or reading. The former is just a bad habit and addictive. The latter I don't want to change at all, just do something a little more outside it.

I need to do some serious soul searching and this is part of the reason I'm looking forward to Ireland so much. I'm hoping for a good mental cleansing. :)

Saturday, August 20, 2016

In less than a week...


...I'm going to be here!!!!!!!!!!!!!! With Jane!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

!!!!!!!!!!!OMG!!!!!!!!!!!

This time next week we'll be in Dublin, in the Republic of Ireland. I'm feeling almost entirely prepared: I have new shirts (too many), new socks (never enough), new boots, sunscreen, toiletries, a Guide Book to Ireland, tickets, maps, various and sundry bits & pieces and am making up my trail mix this weekend.

I've bought all kinds of bits for my trail mix: M&M's, cranberries, coconut, currants, pumpkin seeds, and I've got three kinds of nuts: almond, cashew, and walnut. I think I've got more than enough to see me through the hike, if not beyond.

The weather isn't supposed to be so great, but hopefully we'll get a few decent days and who knows? The system may move off before we get there or at worst, while we're there, and we'll be able to bask in the green glory of the countryside. Regardless, there's literally nothing we can do about the weather (except moan and I promise to keep that to a bare minimum, Jane - or at least keep the muttering to myself) so will make the best of it that we can.

In the meantime, there's still a week of 'real life' to get through.

Work is slow. It's trickling in at this point and we're struggling a bit to find things to do during the day, although at least the MD is working pretty steadily which means I still have things to do. However, I can't see it picking up before Christmas when it usually reaches a standstill anyway.

I've just come home from the library where I had YET MORE heavily crime-themed books awaiting my attention - 9, to be exact.


A few more hardcovers than I would have liked, but there we are. They're due back after I get back from Ireland and I renewed the others I still have as well. I managed to get through 5 books this month (so far) and have to decide which one(s) I'm taking to Ireland with me.

I'd like to get through the top two of the pile this weekend. My cousin is away to see her family this weekend, so I'll be expecting to see her on Tuesday when I get home. She rushed off yesterday evening (it's a two-hour drive) and an hour after she'd gone, I found her purse left behind on the kitchen counter! So she is sans wallet, glasses, and phone, but at least she's with people who can take care of her until she gets back. She didn't even realise until she arrived at her mum's house and was unloading the car. Ha ha!

I sent an inquiry to a local women's group (which is part of a National Association) last week after seeing a poster at the library for it. It's similar to the WI, but I don't think is so focused on week-day activities and seems to be more of a chatting and social association. There's an annual fee of £20, which is very reasonable, and there are only 9 members at the moment. A nice size, actually, as any more than that and I'd likely not bother.

They have bi-weekly meetings that seem to focus on discussions of various sorts - next week is a meeting at a pub to discuss current events (which I'm embarrassingly lacking in knowledge of), two weeks' on is the AGM and planning the next few meetings, and the one following that is a talk by one of the members about her trip to Cyprus. I'm struggling to meet people here. I have three women I consider friends - two live in London and the third has disappeared from radar for the most part as she met a fellow in January and is now planning her wedding, so I haven't seen her since the end of last year. I'm feeling a bit stuck and lonely if I'm honest, so this group is, hopefully, something I can enjoy.

I'm hoping this group is a start, but that it isn't too, well, boring (says the woman whose only hobby is reading). I said right off the bat that I work full-time, so am limited in what I'm able to do (evenings & weekends) and the WI was frustrating because they planned 98.999% of their outings on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I'd like to have some...more youthful...members as well so that perhaps there will be some more energetic activities available.

It feels a bit structured but it can't hurt to go and see how I feel about it.

Anyway, it's a rubbish(y) weekend weatherwise, I've just finished sorting my trail mix and it's time to take book to sofa and get started on the new pile. I have a couple of books I can likely get through if I set my mind to it.

Have a great weekend, all!

***********************************************************************************
Amended to add:

Also, that student loan debacle that happened way back in January 2013 (already, apparently)? The one that made headline news because of the lost flash drive and potential privacy breach of 583,000 Canadians? 

I was affected and once the initial phone calls, etc. had been made and all the right noises voiced, I promptly forgot about it. 

I got a letter last week making me aware that I'm included in a class action lawsuit - 4 legal companies have banded together for this opportunity - against the Federal Government.

I considered not bothering, but it's actually easier to just be a part of it rather than faffing around with paperwork to get out of it. They're still working through the collection and review of paperwork - which should take them through February next year - but, according to (one of) the legal bits, "Borrowers may be entitled to compensation for the breach of their privacy, damages for identity theft and/or damages to their credit reputation, damages for the costs incurred to prevent identity theft, damages for the time spent changing your personal information such as your Social Insurance Number, damages for emotional distress/inconvenience, and/or compensation for out of pocket expenses. Punitive damages will also be claimed because the Government failed to disclose the breach of privacy for 2 months."

I actually did none of the above, so unclear what my compensation would (or MAY, no guarantees) potentially be. Nothing? These sorts of suits are notoriously lengthy and I think the only people to honestly profit will be the lawyers, although the Feds have capped their fees at 1/3 of whatever the compensation happens to be.

I could make $20,000. I could make $20. There could be nothing. I've got the necessary page bookmarked, but am not really holding my breath for a massive windfall of any sort.

Still, it'll be interesting to see how it turns out in the future.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

What's been going on this week?


This is the desk and lamp I bought at IKEA last weekend! Very pleased. It's a bit big, but is exactly what I want, as my computer - unlike the practically sized laptops - is a monster of a desktop so needs quite a deep space to sit in. My cousin has given me her old desk chair, so I'm all set. :) £55 for the desk, £15 for the lamp, £3 (?) for the bulb and I bought a cushion as well.


I bought a new notebook for Ireland (green, my favourite colour and appropriate for Ireland): £1.75



An unbelievable find at a charity shop for 'new' hiking pants (the zipping kind!) £3.50! A perfect fit, too, which just proves they were meant for me. Olly is kindly adding essential cat hair for me.


I dropped a dozen or so items at one of the charity shops in town today and spent some time poking around all of them. I found this for .50p!


I decided to go through my Goodreads lists and see what I could order from the library (why this has never occurred to me before, I have no idea). I'm currently at about 21 items on hold (at .50p a reservation) and 14 of them came in pretty much all at the same time! Yikes. And here I am going on holiday in less than three weeks. I've decided to start at the top and work my way down and just see how far I can get before I go - probably three, maybe four. Whatever I don't get to I'll just renew and get to when I get back (or not). This stack cost me £7.50

Southampton currently has zebra statues around town - you're probably familiar with these installations, even if your town or city hasn't had them. A few years ago there were hippos around, painted and auctioned off at the end of their display period to raise money for one cause or another. The zebras are being auctioned for conservation (of zebras!), which I think is a great idea. There's a map and quite a few are located near work, so I could actually get some exercise at lunch and go find a few to photograph.

These are the ones my sister and I found on Thursday when she came to see me for lunch. Because it was so quiet at work my supervisor allowed me an hour and a half for lunch (!), so we definitely made the most of it.


'Zeffe'


'Fantastic Mr Fox' - in honour of Roald Dahl.


'Who's You?'


'Zippy'


'Allegra'


'Zeeberry'

I walked to work past this one the next day and someone(s) had pushed it over! There was police tape around the area and a lady - I'm assuming somehow connected to the zebra - standing over it. This is apparently the second time it's been knocked over. Such a shame that people just can't leave things alone.


'Frederic'

I'm going for a walk with my sister tomorrow somewhere in the Forest. We'll likely have tea and cake afterwards (or before) as we usually do. Next weekend we're going to Portsmouth for the day to use one of my passes. Possibly a trip up the Spinnaker tower too, but not certain about that yet. We'll see how the day goes.

I was uber-productive at work this week, despite not having much 'real' work to do. I tidied and cleaned out the stationary cupboard and the storage cupboard in the meeting room (soooooo much junk!) and even attacked all the offices on the second floor. 99% of stuff is off the floor and I think the MD will be quite pleased with his office. There's still a way to go, but it's a definite start. I was full on all day Wednesday and Thursday, filling filing boxes, sorting, tidying, etc. I was exhausted but it feels so good to have done it. No one else was willing so it was better than sitting down all week and doing nothing.

Before he left on holiday, I asked the MD if I could have a new office chair (and one for my colleague as well) and he said to pick out a couple to look at and I could have what I wanted (win! Does no one ask for things in this office?). I've got a couple that I quite like - office chairs are expensive! - so I'm hoping that either one will be approved. I'd say I've earned my chair this week...ha ha!

Anyway, 20 days until Ireland and I'm starting to get organised in my head. I'm pretty much set but do need several more pairs of hiking socks and at least two more t-shirts just to be on the safe side.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Catching up on a little reading...

 
My cousin accidentally severed the TV cable cord while she was tidying up her garden about a month or so ago, so we've been using YouTube and various iPlayer type things to watch 'TV' on my computer instead. It's actually better, because you can pick and choose something you know you'll enjoy rather than just watching something for the sake of it which, I admit, we do far, far too often.
 
So it's been 4 full seasons of 'Jeeves & Wooster', six episodes of a new show called 'New Blood' (police drama, brilliant), some ghost shows ('Most Haunted' & 'Ghost Adventures') and catching up with one of my favourite shows, 'Mock the Week.' The host, Dara O'Briain is one of the funniest men on TV.
 
I've also been 'collecting' books - utilising what I can find the in library or picking up interesting sounding ones from used book stores - and am going through them at quite a pace. The library for the most part is a free service, as it is at home, apart from CDs or DVDs, but I've been perusing my Goodreads site today and searching the Hampshire library system online and have put 16 books on hold (work is s-l-o-w). Reservations cost .50p each, so I've currently racked up £8. Still, considering how much I usually spend on books, it's still a bargain.
 
There are already 4 waiting for me at my home branch! Ha ha!
 
I've zoomed through 6 library books and four of my own new (used) ones in the past 2.5 weeks. Granted, they've not been particularly challenging, but I've enjoyed them and I read them mostly during my commute, so I get about an extra hour a day to read. They were cosy mysteries, and I've now moved on to Bill Bryson's 'Made in America.' I like to read a couple of non-fiction books after I've gorged on fiction, just to keep myself balanced. I don't read non-fiction as quickly, and am quite particular about it.
 
So, the summer is all set with lots of reading to be done.
 
I also got a nice surprise last week when I received 6 free train passes in the mail from the train company I travel with to work. Because I have an annual pass for the train, I get a few benefits, like upgrading for a small(er) fee, discounts on rail travel, etc. Apparently, I also get free trips anywhere on the system this summer so, WIN! I can take someone(s) with me as well so as long as I have my rail card with me and keep the free ticket on hand, I can take my sister or cousin on a day trip somewhere. Salisbury springs to mind at the moment...
 
Ireland in 24 days! Transportation is now booked, as is a ghost walk in Dublin.
 
Serious consideration is being given to returning to school in the fall for an acupressure diploma. There's a college near Brighton (about an hour away) that I'm looking at, as there doesn't seem to be anything closer. It's not too expensive, the course is one weekend per month for 11 months, and it is something I've tried and very much enjoyed in the past. As I say, I'm just considering it at this point, but I'm feeling a bit frustrated that I'm not continuing to move forward, at least in the respect of learning something.
 
Anyway, work is very quiet at the moment so I'm doing filing (long, LONG overdue filing), the weather isn't fantastic so I haven't really been out on my bike, I bought a desk, I've joined my cousin on her Weight Watchers plan (just the food part), and life, for the most part is good. I've had a bit of an epiphany about depression and how long it's been affecting me, so I've made an appointment with my doctor to get a referral for some counselling to do some digging. To start the process, I've taken myself off FB for the time being, as I can literally lose myself for hours in it with nothing of note to show when I finally get off it.
 
Otherwise, I'm counting down the days to Ireland (over there --->) and will be focussing on that for the next couple of weeks to make sure I don't forget anything, pick up anything last minute I might need, etc. and will be doing a lot of reading! :)