It's been a busy two weeks - and I'm definitely not complaining. It's been really good to spend time with family and keep myself moving, rather than lazing around my room in London and spending too much time by myself and in my head.
First up was a trip to Wales, which is always lovely. The weather was fantastic for the most part and my sister, cousin and I took a walk one day to a place called Ogmor Castle, about 1.5 hours from Carmarthen. We spent most of the day there, returning about 5pm.
There's a nature preserve in between the castle and the coast and it takes quite a long time to slog through the dunes to reach the beach, but reach it we did and we spent some time relaxing by the water.
While we were in Wales, my sister, cousin and I started our own investment group! We got very excited about learning about the stock market, buying shares, etc. so set up an online bank account for our funds. We're each going to invest £20 per month and when we get to a particular amount, say, £250, roll it over into some stocks or shares on the stock market and see where it takes us. We've started the initial research into the FTSE 100, how to buy, where the best place to invest is, etc. It's tapered off a little bit the past few days, but I certainly have time over the next week to clarify a few things with the bank we chose, do a little research, and send out some thoughts on some stocks I think would be a good buy. At this point, it's small potatoes, so we're not going to see big returns, but the more comfortable we get, the more we learn and the more risks we're willing to take (diversifying as much as we can when we get to a point that it's feasible) then hopefully we'll be able to get to the point of seeing our money working much harder for us, rather than us working harder for it.
As I had an interview with an agency on Monday, so we headed back to England on Sunday, stopping at another cousin's place near Bristol to visit for a few hours. Although it's always fantastic to see her and the family, it's never often enough.
Tuesday afternoon, my sister and I headed to Sidmouth, in the beautiful county of Devon. We took a bit of a roundabout route to get there (unintended), and it took us almost 4 hours - the regular route takes 2.5. Still, we weren't in any particular hurry and it was quite a lovely trip. A bit drizzly and foggy (!) once we got closer to the coast, but otherwise uneventful. Our hotel was basic, but comfortable and only a few minutes walk from the seafront. Sidmouth itself is a typical seaside town, a bit tired and in need of some TLC, but has everything you would need (including a great looking art store, a health food store, a cinema, and a fab yoga studio). It's located on the Jurassic Coast of England, which is filled with the bones of prehistoric creatures, millions of years old. It has soft red cliffs, which is a bright contrast to the green fields and pastures and not what I was expecting. For some reason I thought they would be gray!
Anyway, I had my interview at the Donkey Sanctuary on Wednesday morning and am still waiting to hear the results. I feel it went quite well, but it can be hard to tell sometimes. I know I could have answered some questions much better, but did very well on others, so it's up to the interviewers now. I hope to hear tomorrow.
I would love this job. It's a new position, so is a 'make it your own' position. I can start with a blank page and get myself organized and set up just how I like. The area is beautiful, it's in the middle of nowhere (as far as anywhere in England can actually be at least), by the ocean and I'd be working with animals, something that I would really be able to get behind and honestly get joy from. Fingers crossed please everyone!
There are a few blind/vision impaired donks in this paddock. They have their own sighted donkey pals who lead the around!
We spent a couple of hours wandering the grounds after my interview and it's beautiful. There are 500 donkeys at this sanctuary (the 'HQ' of 5 around the UK), each with its own story. They have sanctuary for life and some are used as therapy donkeys, some are blind, some are just old. They are well cared for and well loved here for the rest of their days. They really are quite lovely animals.
Thursday afternoon I had an interview with a chartered surveying company in Southampton. I challenged myself and drove to town (!) and once I'd parked, promptly got myself turned around trying to get out of the parkade. I arrived at the office several minutes late after taking the long way around, but that was okay because the interviewers were trying to fix an Internet issue so were later than me! Phew... :)
The interview went well (I have since had the job offer, so if the sanctuary position doesn't come through, I am still good to go - as soon as I accept it that is) and it sounds busy and challenging, so I'm well pleased. I'm still also getting calls from agencies who have found my CV online and are calling about positions I might be interested in, so overall the time away from work has been positive, fun and very worthwhile. I'm feeling better and now that I'm settled back in the New Forest - for now - already I'm more relaxed and happy.
Friday my sister and I headed back to London to collect the last of my things and my rent deposit. We spent the morning in another New Forest village - Brockenhurst - and found ourselves at one point in a herd of donkeys (hmmm...how's that for a sign?).
This little foal is less than a week old. The babies are so cute!
Traffic jamming. No matter what, you are NOT allowed to rush the animals in any way. If that means getting stuck behind them while they wander, so be it. Which is exactly what this herd did. There were more than half a dozen vehicles behind them crawling along until the donkeys decided to get off the road.
Truly, who can stay miserable around here? It's magical!