Sunday, 22 June 2014

It's about time!

Sometimes you take a little break from your blog to focus on other things. And sometimes those little breaks turn (unintentionally) into much longer ones. This is one of those breaks (again).

So. What exactly have I been doing since January anyway?

·         Working 1.0. I wrote briefly about my job at the end of November. It was a temp job that had the potential to go permanent, which initially I thought would be perfect. As time went on, however, it started to wear at me and when the company shifted gears to downsize in mid-March, I was ready to kick some heads in. They eventually let me go, as you can’t justify keeping a temp when permanent jobs are on the line, and I was quite relieved. Despite the fact I could walk from home, the work environment, well, sucked. Ridiculously unprofessional behaviour – and perhaps that makes me sound a bit of a stick in the mud, but really, making dates during work hours? – and way too much gossip and general chitter chatter. Exit stage left!

·         Working 2.0. I was off for 2.5 weeks before I got another job. I started before Easter and so far, so good. I’m working at a hospital in the maintenance department (no public!!!!!) in a long-term position. The wage is better, although the job isn’t particularly challenging, but I have an office to myself and the guys are a good bunch. I have a lot of downtime, so feel that a perfect job for me is one like this but with enough work to keep me busy and make the day go faster.

The downside is the early start. I’m up between 5/5:30am to catch the 7:10 train. I ride my bike to the train station, which is 3 miles and takes about 20 minutes. It’s a beautiful ride – there are foals in the Forest now (!!) – perfect to relax me in the morning and wind me down in the evening. Plus I get a workout! I stop for tea then have a 15-20 min walk to the hospital, which is on the fringes of the sketchy part of town. I’m prepping for the wet season, but am enjoying the sunshine right now.
*Update: I have an interview for a permanent job on Thursday afternoon! I’m nervous because I have a feeling it’s going to be quite professional and I’m really not (I’ve never worn makeup in my life!), but I’m excited because it’s a company dealing with investments, so it sounds good. The lady who called said she really liked my CV/resume, so here’s hoping I can live up to it!

·         Visiting. We had a family reunion of sorts for my birthday at the beginning of April. My brother, SIL, sister and cousin went to Avebury (in Wiltshire county) for a day. Apart from a pretty village, there are remains of HUGE stone circles and pathways. Since I was last there (forever ago), a museum, gift shop and cafĂ© have been added. The weather wasn’t great, but it was April. It’s England. It was my birthday. We had a great time visiting and while my sister had to leave, the rest of us spent the night at a hotel in a town called Calne, 6 miles west.

Easter was spent in Carmarthen, Wales, with family. There were 6 cousins (3 sets of sisters), two husbands, 6 kids (7-16), an aunt and uncle and a beautiful Welsh locale. A movie was made, lots of food was eaten, plenty of drinks drunk, and we had a great time. It had been 40 years since all us cousins had been together like that, so it was terrific to spend so much time with old family and new (to me). Us girls are trying to arrange to go away together for a long weekend, so I’ve volunteered to look into affordable options for that: B&Bs or self-catering most likely.

I also went to see my sister in the pretty town of Rode for a long weekend. She works as a housesitter (among other things) and is sitting at a lovely place. It’s in the county of Somerset in the middle of fields. She’s looking after two dogs and a cat, so we had lots of walking, talking and relaxing. Proper sister time. J It was great.

·         Learning. I took a photography workshop in May and have signed up for two more, in August and November. Various parts of the New Forest and what’s called the Jurassic Coast in Dorset. I believe that’s because many fossils from that period have been found in its shores. The fellow leading the workshop was excellent and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. The other workshops are with smaller groups, so there’ll be more one-to-one assistance and guidance.

I’ve also signed up for two online courses: a novel writing course and a Teaching English as a Foreign Language course, something I’ve wanted to do for years. I’m almost finished the novel writing one, as I’ve got ideas for a cosy mystery series set in the Forest floating around my head. I’ve even written a letter in hopes of interviewing the officials who care for the Forest and her creatures. It’s a unique place and I’ve become quite enchanted by it.
*Update: almost a month in and no word from the officials I’d like to interview. They’re either considering my request really hard or not at all. I’ve decided instead to leap in and just start writing because if I don’t, I won’t have anything to put this into if they do grant me an interview.

I’m also learning that I’m more adaptable than I thought. England isn’t a great deal different from Canada in many ways, but there are definite differences. I’ve not used the health system (NHS) to a great degree yet, but it’s similar to our universal health care at home, so that’s not a big adjustment I have to make. Different items on the grocery store shelves and a lack of, or difficulty getting, certain other items (ah, Amazon. What would I do without you?); and mostly, the sheer number of people. I’m just not used to it after living in the Yukon for so long.

I did some Googling about that last bit. Canada’s population hovers around 35 million, the UK at almost 63. Now, WHERE DO ALL THESE PEOPLE LIVE??!! Comparing the Yukon’s population (approx. 35,000) per square mile vs. England’s, we get this: 0.01/661.9. No wonder I sometimes get dizzy! My brother and sister also have big personal space bubbles and we were talking about this at Easter. I think it stems from growing up in Canada, where there is the luxury of having that, whereas here you’re jammed up against people everywhere you go. The idea of ‘remote’ is quite different here than what I’m used to and there’s never complete silence either; you can always hear traffic, no matter what time of day it is. The Yukon could be perfectly, beautifully silent. That said, I’m finding it easy to spend time on my own, away from people, although I’m finding I really like having my cousin around. The company has been good for both of us.

It’s fun having an accent! You wouldn’t believe the number of people (men) who have said ‘what a lovely accent!’ Women just ask where I’m from, but I have no doubt that were I a man, I’d get exactly the same reaction from them instead. Hahaha! And I can’t get over how many people actually know it’s Canadian, not American – heck, *I* can’t tell most of the time. I just tell who don’t know that we just have softer vowels, but like any regional dialect (Newfies anyone?) it changes depending where you’re from. Personally, I’m finding the Welsh accent quite lovely. It’s so musical…

·         Paying down debt. I’m getting there!! I’m down to $2500 on my MC and $7700 on my LOC. I’m picking away at paying back my RRSP, too, but still have to make a decision about cashing out my secondary one. Why I’m wavering, I’m not sure. I suppose because I worked to set it up and added regularly, although I stopped that when I went to school and didn’t start it up again. It’ll just take an email to find out where I stand and whether it’s even possible from here.

Overall, I’m thoroughly enjoying my new adventure. Still spending far too much money on books and clothing (had a terrific haul yesterday at a couple of thrift stores – essentially an entirely new wardrobe for less than £70!), but I’m definitely happy.

Even my health has improved! For 7 years, the whole time I was in the Yukon, I was having troubles with my kidneys. If you know anything about kidneys, it’s that their health and function is numbers-based. The numbers vary depending on various factors (age, sex, etc) and mine have been on the high side of things since about 2004 (shortly before I went North). I registered and had an appointment with a doctor here who sent me for bloodwork, based on that history. What came back? The numbers are exactly where they should be for my age. Whatever the issue was, it is no longer.

If that in itself doesn’t prove to me that I did the right thing, nothing can. In alternative healthcare, the kidneys are where guilt and shame are kept, which I believe is the root of the problems.

At any rate, it certainly proves that following one’s heart can do wonders. England isn’t everyone’s dream (heck, even amongst the English), but I’m content, happy and thoroughly enjoying everything. Everywhere I am is ‘home’ to me, but it’s hard to explain why this just feels so…right. The pull of my roots? The opportunity to release old stuff and just start over? Who knows?

But it was definitely worth taking the chance. Can you believe it’s been almost 8 months already?!?!


its me, sam said...

So glad that things are looking up and onward for you! I've missed reading about your life adventures. Enjoy the summer, and hopefully some sunshine!

Northern Living Allowance said...

Thanks, Sam, that's nice of you to say! :) Summer is good, if hot, so the new duds will help with the heat too, which is great. Hope it's bearable for you on the east coast after such a horrific winter! x

Sharon S said...

Hi there!! So lovely to hear from you and it sounds like you've really settled into English life ever so nicely, your choice of courses sound great and I hope you're enjoying the lovely weather we are having! Do stay in touch!! xx

T'Pol said...

I am glad you are doing fine. I was wondering about your new life. Please do keep us posted. I love England. I have been there twice briefly. I would love to see the English countryside. Please do tell us more:)

ND Chic said...

I live three hours from Canada and I can immediately pick up on the Canadian accent. Its very noticeable to me.

What is the Forest? Is that just woods? But there are wild horses there? And people manage the woods?

Good to hear that you are doing so well. I was wondering.

The Asian Pear said...

Woah. A a lot has happened! I'm glad all is well.

Good luck with the interview! :)