Friday, 1 January 2021

'Bye 2020! Don't let the door hit you on the way out!


I think we're all glad/relieved/thankful/etc., to see the back of it, too, aren't we? Holy cow.

So, I will take this moment to wish you all a Happy New Year. Here's hoping for a brighter, lighter, more hopeful year. I wish you all health, wealth and some magic. 

So, what did I do last year? 

In February I got a stonking raise: 10%!! In truth, it was two years' worth of raises in one go, but who am I to argue? A good start.

(End of) March - July: lockdown. Had grand plans to utilise the time productively. The only thing my flatmate and I managed was a 5,000 piece puzzle. Otherwise, it was full of frustration, anxiety, etc. I couldn't read, I couldn't write, I couldn't concentrate on anything. Mind you, I've not slept so well in YEARS. Like the proverbial log, for weeks. It was amazing.

July 1: returned to work. It's been absolutely mad since. We've never been so busy. This is good for us, but also trickles down/over into estate agents, solicitors, movers, etc. The backlog - thanks in part to the stamp duty holiday, which runs through until March - is tremendous. People are reasonably understanding, but some still want what they want when they want it, and we're at the point where if someone cancels, it's not a problem, because there are probably a dozen more waiting.

20 July: I registered for an online proofreading course. I thought it might be a good way to eventually bring in a little extra income.

September: my last month at the corner shop, because...

October: I MOVED! Again. This time, however, it was on my own. Finally! I had a list and it checks EVERY. SINGLE. BOX. I honestly hadn't intended to move again so quickly, but this showed up and I literally could not say 'no' (there's a bit of a long story around that). I'm now walking distance to the office (1.4 miles/25 mins) and have walked every (work)day but one since I moved in.

I look onto a converted stable yard. The property is set up as a B&B/holiday let, and my flat is actually a holiday let, but they utilise two flats to bring in regular income: mine and a slightly smaller one-bed above me.

There are four holiday lets around the stable yard. The B&B is run out of the old manor house, which is behind my flat. The owners are lovely, and there are a number of animals on-site too: three miniature donkeys (Paddington, Rupert and Teddy), eight Soay sheep (rescues), fourteen free range laying hens, six show chickens (Buff Orpingtons, etc.) and four goats, two Boers and two miniature. There is apparently a cat, too, but I've only glimpsed him once since I've been here.

These are several months old, when I was moving in (and before my plants arrived), but give an idea of it. Very compact, not much storage, but that's not a bad thing. It just means I need to be certain about what I'm keeping, etc. The rent includes all costs (utilities) and it's a *smidge* tight, but I'm happier paying one cost than scattering all my bills throughout the month. It's not cheap to live on your own, but I am so happy. The setup is perfect for one.

I live directly across the road from a reserve which is beautiful and home to a plethora of birdlife. The road itself is probably the only drawback. It's a direct route to Salisbury and therefore is very busy. I'm on the opposite side of the road to the pavement, so need to use extreme caution when I'm crossing. The driveway to the property is on a slight bend, so a bit nervewracking to negotiate, but fortunately I can walk a short distance to a much easier crossing spot.

I've spent the last several months settling myself in and still have a couple of boxes and bags to work on. But the flat is warm, cosy, compact, quiet, modern. It's wonderful. I've recently added a bird feeder outside my living room window, and now have some blue tits and robins feeding on seeds. Lovely!

As for my course, I've finished it and sent the final assignments several weeks ago. I got 60%, but need 80% to pass in order to get any work with the affiliate company. There are three opportunities to pass, and I've spent some time chatting with one of the staff to go over what I did wrong. I *should* be able to pass the second time. The trouble is that it's mostly academic stuff, and I'm not academically inclined. Having said that, though, it's just a matter of practice. The more I do it, the better I'll get. I can take as long as I need on the final assignments, too, which is great, so I just have to 'fine tooth comb' it and be patient. I know I rushed a bit the first time.

I go back to work on Monday after two weeks' break. One of my colleagues is retiring at the end of January, so we'll be breaking in a new one. There will be some big changes, I'm sure. I've been resting, reading (finally), cleaning, organising my thoughts, and have done a couple of walks at the reserve. The weather hasn't been great - wet and mild mostly - but from Monday, I'll be walking daily again and that helps clear my mind for the day.

So that's my year in a nutshell, really. I haven't decided whether I'll be regularly updating or not at this point, but I'd like to. Perhaps monthly. Regardless, I hope this finds you safe and well, and that 2021 is easier for all of us, in as much as it can be.


JiCaLu said...

ZOMG!!!! I am so glad that you are in your cool new flat, got a raise, and are working towards some more income. Go you! And to think, we didn't know where the cornerstore job would take you, but you continued to work there all the same - good on you.

How did roomie take you moving out? I hope you get into the groove of blogging at your own pace, but if not - wishing you all the best for 2021 and beyond!!

T'Pol said...

Happy New Year! So glad to finally hear from you and to find out that you have been doing well. Congrats on the flat. Sounds and looks lovely. Hoping to hear from you in more frequent intervals but of course, it is up to you. Stay safe and be well!

Northern Living Allowance said...

Hi JiCaLu - thank you! It's nice to be back, actually. I didn't work at the shop during lockdown (part of the moving story, I think, but not, overall, a bad choice). I actually miss it a little bit, to be honest!

The moving story is kind of its own thing but, suffice to say, Roomie E was great about it. It's never been personal, she's always known it's been my ultimate goal. There was a minor blip, but overall it was fine.

Happy New Year to you! I hope this year is healthy, safe, and a bit brighter for you! xx

Hi T'Pol! Thank you. It's good to be back. I just really haven't been able to focus this year, so instead of fighting it, I just went with it while it sorted itself out. This break appears to have been good for me, as I've run through about six books and pottered about getting a few things done on my own schedule. It's been really nice. I am going to try and keep up to date this year with the blog - it's nice to know I've been missed, actually! Stay well and safe there, and I hope you have a much lighter, brighter year! xx

Treaders said...

Good to see you back. Is your new flat near Ringwood (I think that's where you were working last time I checked)? It looks absolutely lovely. Well done - it's a pretty area you're living in. A few years ago I started a proof-reading course thinking I might need the extra money in retirement (paid £500 for it and never finished it). It bored me so much I thought life was just too short - plus that was mostly what I was doing at work anyway. Good luck to you. I would drown in my coffee if I had to do that again!

Northern Living Allowance said...

Hi Treaders! Thank you. Yes, it's in Ringwood. I love leaving my car at home (although I needed a boost last month as hadn't driven it in six weeks! Whoops. Thank goodness for handy landlords). I've mostly enjoyed the proofreading course. The academic aspect frustrates me but, as I say, the more often I do it, the better it will be. You can show/tell me 5,000 times how to do it, but until I'm actually working on it, nothing will stick. I can see it might be overkill if that's what you were doing full-time - I do a bit of it at work, but not in-depth, so works out okay for me. It was pretty interesting overall, I thought and was pleased when they added a creative writing module to it. Sounds like you've been pretty full on! xx