Sunday, 27 November 2016

27 November 2016, update

It's been a bit quiet in the Forest lately which is just how I like it. :) I'm going to do everyone's favourite kind of update - bullet point - because I have a bunch of stuff to do today (see picture above) and have basically just been faffing about since I got up at 7:00 to wait for a grocery delivery.

As it's just arrived, my to-do list has got that much smaller but I still want to accomplish some stuff today.

  • Work is going okay. It's still a bit slow but as there isn't much we can do about that, there's no point getting worked up about it. It just really makes me want to go back to school again to focus on something I can do part-time and/or eventually roll into a full-time job that will take me into retirement.
  • I did three walks on the Forest through the New Forest Walking Festival in October. This is an annual event, apparently, which takes place for two weeks and showcases the Forest in all its functions. There were nearly 100 on offer with a variety of distances, times, difficulties and 'themes'. Most are free, others have nominal fees (£5 or so), and they were really enjoyable and informative.  It's a really remarkable place and I'm SO lucky to live here. I'll definitely be signing up for more walks next year.
  • I attended a writing workshop in mid-October, held at a gallery. It was an all day workshop and was interesting in that the instructor gave us a lot of ideas to work with to prompt and poke our creativity, but I didn't necessarily come away with anything new. However, the 6 other women I did the workshop with were absolutely lovely and we've since met again to discuss what we want to do. So I now have a monthly writing group to attend starting in January! We'll be working with the workshop instructor over a period of 6 months to a goal of publishing a small anthology.

    The gallery has a wide variety of workshops which I'm going to explore next year (block printing, silver making, felt work, drawing, painting, etc.). 
  • I'm enjoying the women's group I've joined. They're a really lovely bunch and I'm glad I decided to join up. It's not active, but they're an intelligent, welcoming, interesting bunch and it's quite relaxed, so is enjoyable a couple of nights each month.
  • I've been housesitting for a few weeks during October and November, taking care of cats and a dog in two different parts of Southampton. One was a Very Posh area, one not. Both paid me (!) and I had direct transit routes to work which was great. One was for a colleague who went to Slovenia for a few days and who has recently got a dog. He's lovely but dogs are hard work! Although the twice daily walks did us both good. She gave me a dept store gift card and I'm going to buy a food processor with it.
  • I got a letter from Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs to let me know that I've been overpaid by £1,200 in my Working Tax Credits (essentially extra money for making less than base wage). So I have to pay that back, obviously, and I've made arrangements for a monthly direct debit to pay it back, which will take me through most of next year. It was a bit of an unpleasant surprise but my own fault, as I didn't phone them to let them know my circumstances had changed. So, an expensive lesson. Yeesh!
  • I spoke with my Mum last night who said she'd like a large jar of Marmite for Christmas. She can get it in Canada but it's quite expensive, so that's definitely doable and will be bought and sent. She said she's going to send us some money, as she usually does, so will have to consider the best way to designate that when it arrives, particularly as it's split between me and my sister and my sister currently owes me a couple of hundred pounds. I may take at least part of what she owes me from it.
  • I'm currently doing Nanowrimo again this year, although I can't imagine I'll finish it on time. I'm at about 8500 words and need 50k by next Wednesday. I was looking for the story I started a couple of years ago as I wanted to carry on with it, but I can't find it so started again and am picking away at it a bit at a time.
  • My sister and I have a Christmas market trip to Salisbury planned for next weekend and the following weekend we're going to be in Bristol for a family birthday, which I'm really looking forward to.
  • Will be writing up Christmas cards tonight and mailing them from work tomorrow (a bit of a discount if I use the franking machine). This is an approved method of mailing and was encouraged last year - I keep track of the postage used and pay it back as and when I can.
  • I'm back on the no-sugar (except for honey in my tea on the weekends) programme and although I actually started a couple of weeks late because of the house sitting, I'm doing well and the recipes are really good. This takes me through into January, so will be a real test of willpower over the holidays!
  • I've organised my budget for next year already and it's almost time for goals and 'projects' to be sorted out. This will be done over the next few weeks and, hopefully, I'll be on top of it before the new year this year.
I'm off to do some bulk cooking for the next few days now. Have a great weekend everyone!


T'Pol said...

Good to hear from you!

Northern Living Allowance said...

Hi T'Pol: Thank you! x

Jane said...

Sorry to hear about the over payment! I had that happen once, same reason. My income was being topped off by social services due to working part-time and being a single parent. Once I got a permanent contract it was found that I had been overpaid. So even though I got a raise in pay it went to pay the overpayment. Sucks.
Sounds like you've got a nice balance of activities throughout each month. The gallery activities are interesting - are they free? I'm hoping to learn watercolour painting over the winter to keep me busy. That and carving of course.
I haven't even thought about Christmas cards yet - I find it hard to write "meaningful" but short comments on cards, but I will try :) Good luck with the sugar withdrawal!! I definitely could NOT do that over Christmas! (Or any other time of year!!)

~Carla~ said...

Ouch! That is a pricey lesson! Not fun at all! I'm trying to remember what "Marmite" is, i've heard of it before, i'm thinking something like molasses? Lol! It sounds like overall things are going well for you! I hope you'll update more often, I enjoy reading! :)

Northern Living Allowance said...

Hi Jane! Yeah, definitely sucks to have to pay it back, but what can I do? Ah well. Live and learn, right? Just means I have to think very carefully about what I want to do next year, that's all, as that's not an insubstantial payment for me.

The gallery courses are not free, sadly, but not outrageously expensive either. I'm not interested in all of them, but will get the new programme once it comes out and see what's on offer. I've also just got details of a silver smithing course which I'm very keen on and which I'm going to look into.

And thanks - the (almost) no-sugar plan is actually going quite well. The weekend honey in my tea was lovely and I headed into Monday morning with lots more enthusiasm for having 'cheated' - ha ha! x

Hi Carla! Ouch is right. Yeah, it was an unwelcome surprise, I have to say, but what can you do? Other than being the same colour, Marmite is not like molasses - it's a yeast extract you put on toast and you either love it or hate it. The Australian equivalent is Vegemite. Ugh! Revolting stuff! Otherwise, yes, I'm doing well this year, thank you. Always nice to hear from you! xx