Monday, October 16, 2017

Long weekend winding down

Yup. That's about the size of it! Haha!

I'm into my last few hours of my long weekend and I have to say it's been lovely to have this time to chill out and relax. We're expecting the edge of Hurrican Ophelia to hit us later today - Western Ireland is already under alert and has sustained some damage and one death - but I don't believe it's going to be too back this far inland. Wind and some rain, but I can't imagine we're going to get it as badly as the west coast is expecting. The sky was a spooky orange earlier on, but so far that's about it. That's moved on and it's a bit brighter now, but wind warnings and alerts have been set in place for the western edges of the UK, due diligence by the Government and meteorologists. It's 30 years ago that the 'Storm of the Century' did such awful damage, so it's a bit weird to be having another such a storm almost 30 years to the day of the last one!

Anyway, I'm tucked up with Wandering George, the cat, in my room. I went to mow the lawn earlier but must be doing something wrong because the mower wouldn't work for me. It's been a while since I've mowed a lawn, I admit, but it's not rocket science, particularly with electric mowers: plug it in, go! I was ridiculously frustrated, but a) there are no outside sockets on the house; b) the cord, had there been a socket to plug it into, wasn't long enough to have allowed me to cut the whole thing. I thought about plugging it into a socket in my room, but that wouldn't work because I would only reach about a third of the lawn. Then I checked the shed at the back of the garden. Nope. I finally checked the wendy house and found an outdoor extension cord that was perfect (on a spool like a garden hose). So I plugged that in, then plugged the mower into that. Nothing.

After moving the cord to two different sockets with no change I gave up. I was pretty pissed off by this point (who likes feeling like an idiot over such a simple, straightforward thing?), so I asked my roommate if he knew anything about it. He's never mowed the lawn and apparently, there used to be a petrol mower, so he was no help. I'll try asking my other roommate, but I don't think she knows either, so I'll likely end up asking the landlady. It's going to have to wait until the weekend now, I'm afraid!

But outside of that, I have been marginally productive. Today I took my paperwork to the medical clinic today to register, and have written up a CV to take to a couple of places this week in anticipation of possible Christmas hours. I haven't worked retail for a few years but thought I'd give it a shot (I know, retail@Christmas, WTF am I thinking?). The Cook email I mentioned a couple of posts ago came to nothing, so I think the lady may have been hacked somehow. Not to worry. If I don't get any joy, I won't worry about it for the time being. I just want to try.

Over the past several days I've read a book, gone shopping, gone for a walk, vacuumed my room, downloaded a bunch more free books, adjusted some numbers in my budget and my bank account, made some very small, loose plans with my sister for when she comes, and just felt really rested and relaxed. I'm ready to go back tomorrow, though. That's just long enough for me to recharge. Besides, I've got four more days off at the end of the month when my brother, SIL, and sister are here.

I'm currently sitting here with a mud mask on, tea and a lovely piece of chocolate cake in front of me. I discovered on Saturday that the village has a bakery, so bought some bread, a piece of chocolate fudge cake and two baps for £3.47 (right???) this morning. 

I'll likely just settle in to eat cake and read some more this afternoon. I also want to do some writing out of stuff and checking into course start dates for next year. I'd like to start sometime in the middle of the year, but it depends what might work best in respect of time, availability, etc. I'm going to also look into a student loan so have to check the prerequisites for that.

Anyway, it's been lovely few days. And an option noted for future reference!

Friday, October 13, 2017

Taking a few days off :)

I have a long weekend this weekend. I had some vacation time outstanding, so have taken a few long weekends here and there until the end of the year. I'm off through Monday, then have time off again from 25-30 October (when my brother & SIL visit), a long weekend in November, and then my last three days over the Christmas week.

As much as I like the week/two-week holidays, I have to say that I've enjoyed these occasional long weekends immensely. Just an extra day here or there to relax really does make almost as much difference as an entire week sometimes!

It's been a good week overall. I started out by attending a Monday evening meeting with the Ringwood branch of the women's group I belong to. The speaker was a homoeopath and after a bit of a wandering start, the talk was quite fascinating. His office is across the street from my office, conveniently enough, so I have made a mental note to make an initial appointment. I believe he'll be able to help in a way Western medicine hasn't.

Despite that, I'm not convinced that the Ringwood group is a good fit for me. They're very nice, but all (seemed) quite posh and I didn't feel nearly as comfortable with them as I did with my other group. I might try another group that's also fairly close, but I may just look for something else entirely. Or both. I'm not sure yet.

I also had my car MOT'd and serviced yesterday, which went better than I thought. She didn't pass the initial MOT because there were a couple of 'fail' points that needed repair: rear registration lights needed new bulbs (easy fix), and there was some welding needed on the rear driver's side. The same place, actually, that she was welded LAST year, but on the inside of the wheel well rather than the outside, making it trickier. There was some brake fluid needed (NOT a clutch, as I'd feared!), I need two new tires before the end of the year, and that was about it. That should cost me less than £100 and I think it's better to get all new tires at the same time so I will consider that.

Yesterday's total: £464.95 and I can now tax her without any worries. He said the car was otherwise in good shape, which I am pleased to hear. 

PLUS, I was able to pay for all that in cash, although it took all my savings to do it. Thanks to my cousin's generosity over the summer, I had managed to squirrel away enough for my deposit and first month's rent here, plus have a bit left over. Now that's gone, but I am more than pleased I didn't have to put it on a credit card. I was concerned it would be more than that, so that's part of the reason I'm okay with parting with it. It confirms to me that I need to carry on with my little bit of saving I do each month.

I didn't get the loan with the bank and that's absolutely fine. I went in saying that I wasn't sure they could do anything for me and they can't - not right now, at least.

Yesterday I also spent a good portion of my day (slow work day) downloading FREE books to my iPad - I'm learning! :) I think I have 44 new ones. I know they're out there, I know the library offers an enormous selection as well, but it appears that I believe to get anything 'fun' you need to spend money. And that is absolutely untrue, as we all know.

Today my plans are simple: putter, think, read, tidy. I've already done a laundry and have a second, smaller one on. I've been to the shops and bought a few things I need for the next several days (food wise). I'm going back shortly to drop some stuff at the thrift shop, as I had a bag designated for a charity pick up on Tuesday and it wasn't picked up, so that's fine. It just goes somewhere else, that's all.

I need to be at home later, though, as my roommate has a computer being delivered and it needs a signatory.

I'd like to go for a walk as well, as I've not yet explored Bransgore and don't know my way around at all. I'm going to register at one of the doctor's surgeries as well, as I'm no longer in the catchment area for my current surgery. 

I'm also going to sit and think about what I NEED. Important things like taking care of my health, saving, decluttering, going to see the homoeopath, resting and relaxing, to not-as-urgent stuff like getting my car washed (it needs doing so desperately, but it's so dirty I'm embarrassed to take it to get it cleaned! Hahaha!), reading all my books, registering for one of the online portions of the course I want to take next year; and all the way down to those unessential-yet-little tasks that fill your days: putting away the dishes, tidying the kitchen, watching Pointless this evening, drinking copious amounts of tea, planning when I can mow the lawn, and finding somewhere I can buy a dustpan.

It really is lovely to have the house to myself for most of the day, putter and fuss and tidy and plot. 

Sunday, October 8, 2017

A rather random, rambling post...

So, T'Pol, over at Frugal@Istanbul wrote this post a couple of days ago about how do you define a NEED?

She makes some excellent points, and I know this is something I really struggle with and have struggled with my whole life. This insidious feeling of 'lack', that you're not good enough without this, that, or the other (most expensive flavour-of-the-month) thing. I understand that all this stuff is simply a facade for being lonely, bored, afraid, unworthy, poor, etc. But the question is, do I GET it? Like, truly, really, honestly, down-to-my-cellular-core GET IT?

Obviously not, because shortly after I read that I went over to Amazon and bought some more books for my Kindle. That makes 143 (plus the ones I've read and not counting the ones I've read and since deleted) for me to read, PLUS all the actual books on actual shelves I've still got to read (so. many. books.).


So I'm making October my 'discovery' month: discovering what I currently have, what I currently (genuinely) need, what I can get rid of, what I can cut down on (books & food wastage), what falls into the 'want' category, and working out small step plans to do better.

Needs I currently, genuinely, have are as follows:

1. MOT & Service for the car. Absolute necessities. I can't legally drive without having the MOT, and I always get a service at the same time because it makes sense as she's an old car. I've booked this for next Thursday. I'm hoping that I'll be able to keep her on the road for another year, but realise I may need to start looking before that. If anything is wrong at the MOT, it needs to be fixed before she can go back on the road. My tax isn't due until the end of the month, so this gives me lots of time to repair anything that's needed. I checked the oil level this morning and it seems fine, but my clutch is squeaking in second gear and she looks a bit low on the driver's side, so I'm afraid of what they're going to say. But there's no point worrying about it until they say it.

2. Groceries for the month. I'm almost already through my grocery budget and it's only the 8th. I need to be exceptionally careful about this.

3. That's really about it.

Rent is paid. All the bills are included in the one payment (water, electricity, internet, council tax, cable, etc.). I do need some more chicken feed, but they'll be okay for a couple of days on some pumpkin seeds and green beans - they also love bananas! 

So shelter needs are taken care of nicely and quite comfortably. I've paid what bills I have (mobile phone, credit cards, etc.), bought enough pots of instant oatmeal while they were on sale to last me three weeks (MOMA coconut and chia - delicious!!), and try to buy simple things for lunch (although why I can't just make extra for dinner and take leftovers for lunch, I don't know).

My debt: I've been making a list of things that I can potentially sell: my bike, my DSLR, books, items of clothing, etc. I don't have much. But I AM sick of this debt, so selling items could potentially get me a little bit closer to eradicating it (realising that I won't get a lot of money for the items and assuming that I don't keep adding to it). They're all still just potentials at this point, but they are articles that would be worth a little something. Sometimes you can't have nice things until you can afford to have the nice things. Right?

All of this is part and parcel of the big changes I've had in the past few weeks. I've moved house, we've moved the office, I'm adjusting to new routines with new people,sorting out a new room. Nothing so dramatic that I can't handle it, but the move was needed, and now I need to sit down and plan out a few things to make sure I don't keep the same habits from keeping me stuck in the same place.

I had a two-hour yoga workshop yesterday morning which was fantastic and really needed. I'm stiff and sore from being in the car every day. I feel so much better this morning! I went for lunch with my friend and her family afterwards and it felt really nice to be included in the gathering.

I spent the afternoon puttering in my room, doing laundry, catching up with Strictly Come Dancing (can't believe I've not been watching this year!) and chatting with my sister online. I also got an email from someone at a company called Cook. I had enquired about part time work in mid-September, as they were opening a new store in Ringwood and I thought it might make an ideal second job. This is a company that makes frozen meals here in the UK. There are stores all over the UK, but there is a central kitchen where the meals are cooked (no additives or preservatives!), flash frozen to -35C, and then sent tot the stores. It's truly delicious stuff (some is nicer than others) and very popular. The email said she had a copy of my CV, but no contact number. I'm a bit suspcious about that, because a copy of my CV would have my contact number on it, although the email looks legit enough. However, as I had enquired about p/t work on their main website, she wouldn't have had my email address otherwise (I hope!). This email came entitled 'Interview for Ringwood' from an area manager last night at just before 6pm, so I called and left a message. If it's legit, I'll get a call back. If not, then she may have been hacked. I did send it to my sister to have a look at it, although it doesn't look wholly professional, and she said to follow it up. 

I'll know soon enough.

A second job would be ideal. And as it's nearing Christmas, this is a good time to start looking. I know I'd be happiest at a bookstore, so am going to work on my resume to take to the bookstore in Ringwood too.

I have a bank appointment on Tuesday. I want to talk to someone about a consolidation loan to clear me of my CC debt, and perhaps give me enough to buy a decent used car. I've seen one that I like for less than £3k. I genuinely don't know if they'll give me one or be able to help me in any way, but it costs me nothing to ask. I'm picking away at my Canadian debt and am feeling resigned but hopeful about that, but I'd like to have one single, simple payment here rather than scattering my money in about 15 different places.

Otherwise, work is going pretty well. We're distracted by the MD being in the same space as us and are trying to come up with ways to get him to move into the office down the hall (using passive-aggressive means, of course, not outright asking).

After a chat with my Italian roommate and hearing her struggles to learn her trade in the UK (she's a sommelier), I've decided I need to get back to learning. I'm going to register in November for an online portion of an aromatherapy programme that I'd like to do sometime next year. I need to take advantage, in the best way, of my language skills, my free time, and my desire to keep learning.

So that's my ramble for today. I hope you all have a lovely weekend - Happy Thanksgiving to all you Canadians, and a Happy Columbus Day for you Americans tomorrow!

Monday, September 25, 2017

I'm in!

Well, I'm all moved in at last. I spent Saturday moving the bits & pieces I needed down to the living room, packing up the last of my items in my wardrobe, and taking apart my desk. I felt very productive but a bit strange dismantling all the pieces that have been my life for four years. The room was almost empty when I finished, just the bed, wardrobe and side table still remaining.

All a bit sad and forlorn. Not even the cat!

I had booked a man with a van for Sunday morning and he showed up at 10:00 to get everything awkward to my new place (bed, bike, large plants, dresser, etc.) and who managed to get lost on the way there - he put the wrong post code in and wound up about 3 miles from where he should have been! Whoops. Anyway, he finally made it and unloaded everything into the new space, and my cousin and I set to unpacking and setting up.

This is currently what it looks like:

The bedroom side, which I'm quite happy with (for now).

The sitting area, which is still quite disorganised. I'm working on this today (ostensibly at least) and hope to have it looking a bit less like a small bomb went off in it. I need to get rid of stuff, so am pleased that there is a thrift shop in the village that I can take things to.

This is my outside space (on a cool, misty day):

Private patio with picnic table. I'm responsible for maintenance of this portion of garden.

French doors from my room (little roses are from my cousin, boots are chicken poopy). Hoping spring will see some pots and plants of various colours and variety to brighten it up.

The girls! I've named them Claudette (white) and Brunhilde (brown) for no discernable reason other than they seem like chicken-y names. Eggs every day (more than even I can eat, really) so can take them and give them away to my cousin, etc.

I have a few pictures to hang, bits and pieces to go through and keep/toss/donate, but so far it's all fitting in - although that's not necessarily a GOOD thing. ;)

The first thing I did, before I started unpacking, was to remove the Glade plug in thing from the wall. The owner had it there because of her dogs, but I hate them so got rid of it quickly. The ones in the hallway and kitchen were removed today, too, as I was chatting with my roommate this morning and she said she didn't like them either, so out they came. They're in the junk drawer in the kitchen if anyone is so inclined to replace them.

The radiators come on quite early and stay on all night (!) and I can't seem to turn mine off. Not for lack of trying, as I've certainly already spent a good amount of time playing with the valve and although it shows as '0', it's still pumping the heat out. I've got my windows and french door open to keep it cool enough in here to sleep. A terrible waste of energy.

Otherwise, I've met George the cat who seems very friendly, have sorted out the chickens (8 eggs today, which means they've not been collected for several days), and had a quick lesson in all things appliance - washing machine, oven, shower, etc. A cleaning rota has been left by the owner and I said I would do the bathroom today. It makes sense while I have a whole day ahead of me.

I've been changing addresses as I remember: driver's licence, bank, credit cards, library...I don't have much so it shouldn't be so hard to keep track of everything.

I'd best get on with my tidying and sorting so that I'm not looking at all this stuff six months from now. It's a slow process, I realise, but getting a head start on it isn't a bad thing.

Once I have things sorted more to my liking, and much tidier, I'll post another photo. In the meantime, I'll spend some time settling in a little. :D

Sunday, August 27, 2017

I'm moving!! :D

Well, I did it. I found a new place to live yesterday and I am REALLY pleased with it.

Despite my enthusiam in my last post about the studio flat and possibly being fully independent again, I came home from seeing the room in Bransgore, a pretty Forest village, more or less already moved in! Haha! 

The flat in Fordgingbridge was cute and much roomier than I imagined, with loads of storage space (could have even used one of the spaces - pantry sized - as a mini-library!), although the bedroom was on the small side for a double and kitchen was T-I-I-I-N-Y! But heaps of character (beams, uneven walls and floors, etc.), big bathroom and a bright, roomy living area. It would, however, be a nightmare to move anything into - the stairs are on the steep side and winding in a narrow stairwell, so getting something like a sofa in there would be almost impossible if it weren't flat-packed. But the reason it hasn't rented (and probably won't for the foreseeable future) is that the electricity is on a coin-operated meter, so you feed in pound coins to run it. I think. I've never actually used one and don't quite understand the concept of it, but can't imagine it's particularly cheap and efficient. The landlady, however, won't change it, despite requests from the estate agents. 

Plus there's no parking included and I'd either have to park further up the street in the residential area or buy an annual permit (£100) and park in the public lot around the corner.

So I was a bit disappointed although, as I say, I didn't dislike it. Fordingbridge is a nice little town, and the drive to Ringwood is only about 15 mins or so (just over 5 miles).

Next I went to Bransgore to see the room. It's a small village tucked into a corner of the Forest, 6.5 miles (16 mins drive) south of Ringwood and not somewhere I've been before.

You can see Ringwood just at the top of the map.

Part of my dilemma with having to move was the fact that, apart from not having the funds to do it, I wanted to be fully independent. Why should I look at rooms again?

Well, this place was lovely! Really and truly. The room was at the back of the house, opening onto a sun-filled patio (with picnic table) that was all mine! There are two chickens, a fish pond, a little guest house/potential studio at the back, parking, a BBQ & garden area at the side/front, all the shops are literally a block away, it's bright and cosy and the owner and one of the other tenants were there to chat with me. The owner is so easy going and is moving to Spain. The tenant I met (there are currently two) was an Italian lady, a sommelier (!) and quite lovely. The other tenant, a solicitor, was away, but has apparently been there about 6 years and has zero inclination to move away - his office is actually located above the grocery store on the corner (about 100 yards from the house). The house would more or less be mine on weekends, as the sommelier works and the solicitor is away at his parents' or somewhere.

It's sooooo peaceful!

Rent includes everything, including council tax, and as I was more or less redecorating the place less than an hour later, it shouldn't come as a surprise that I took it. We all liked each other very much and it seems I'll be the one using the kitchen the most as the other two just aren't around or don't cook much.

I paid my deposit last night and pick up the keys next Sunday, when I'll be in Ringwood helping a bit to set up the new office for a couple of hours. I'll drop some un-necessary bits and pieces there (my books, most likely, and some knick knacks) at the same time and can see how it might all start to fit together.

The Forest is about 5 minutes up the street, it's 10 minutes drive to the beach, I can cycle more or less anywhere, and the drive to work will be very quiet. I'm hoping to be fully moved in before the end of September, but as I'll have my keys I can come and go as I please and will be officially settled by 1 October.

So, I'll be driving more than I'd like, but not on any major roads and the distance means I'll be home before 6:00, which is almost half an hour sooner than I am now! Biking - depending on the roads - would take me about half an hour, so once I'm more familiar with the roads and the area I can start doing that when it's lighter in the evenings. The narrow English roads are frightening enough during full daylight as a cyclist, I don't want to risk them at night quite frankly.

Anyway, I'm feeling really good about it all. Staying with my cousin was never meant to be a permanent things and I've over-stayed my welcome. So this is going to be good for both of us.

Will post pictures once I've got everything to my liking. :D