Thursday, 13 June 2019

June - and moving!

Word of the month: Feel (the feelings)

I'm on holidays starting today until 25 June. It's a miserable, wet, windy and cold June day (welcome, summer!) so after a couple of quick errands this morning, I decided to just take time to catch up on some emails and try to get a bit more organised for the move next week.

I have a hospital appointment tomorrow, so that will be most of my day gone, a shift at the cafe on Saturday morning, and then a few days to get the last of the bits & pieces organised for the move next Saturday. We're pretty organised, really, and I suppose it's just a matter of hoping the weather is clear(er) so that things don't get too wet and soggy on the day.

We never got our job reviews last month. One of our surveyors went sick, so a few jobs had to be rearranged (unforeseen, so okay...sort of). We didn't get an acknowledgement or apology until a couple of days later, so I wasn't particularly impressed. It was rescheduled and then cancelled. Again. And again, without acknowledgement or apology. So, I'm still waiting if no one else is. All things I'm taking note of for when I legitimately start looking for a new job.

To that end, I've been feeling particularly tetchy and frustrated at work for the past couple of months. So I made a 'proactivity' list in my handy dandy journal, things that I need to do to stay forward focused: looking at evening/online courses, completing a National Career Service 'Skills Health Test' (check!), updating my CV, clearing clutter, writing my book, etc. Things like that. Taking little steps forward is better than feeling like you're stuck and going nowhere. Or worse, backwards!

But the biggest thing happening right now is, obviously, the move. We've got someone coming to collect the sofas early next week, the cleaner next Thursday, carpets are being done next Friday - when we also pick up our moving van - and then Saturday we need to ensure everything is out and the keys at the estate agents by 4:00. 

We've already started moving boxes and things into our garage so the place is looking a bit bare. We're collecting the key for the garage at the new flat next Thursday and will start moving things over there then (we are SO lucky to have this as an option!). Friday will be packing up the van and moving what's left over there, apart from beds, etc., and we should be finished well before 4:00 on Saturday. There should only be one trip with the van and as it has to be back for noon on Saturday, we should be absolutely fine if we start first thing. Our neighbours across the hall volunteered their services and Nissan Pathfinder for assistance if required, which is really kind!

We've learned that moving on a Saturday in England is completely inconvenient - no one seems to work on weekends (carpet guys, cleaner, Internet techs, van rentals...). Noted for the next one!

Mrs May has stepped down as PM but remains in charge until a new leader is selected, which is in process. All the hopefuls are on about Brexit, but I am expecting much egg on faces in the run-up to the new leave date - Hallowe'en! I think he (because the female hopefuls haven't made it through the initial round of conservative party leadership votes) is kidding himself that he can do better. There's plenty of strutting and preening happening, and lots of overconfident waffling and tooting of horns, but the EU has already said they won't be making any concessions, changes or other agreements on what has already been agreed. So it's that or nothing. Good luck!

Anyway. I've also been coming up with some ideas for my book, which is great but means having to more or less rewrite everything I've already got down which is a bit frustrating. I'm opting at this point to just keep notes and peck away at Chapters 1 and 2 so that I can get the initial characters and potential suspects sketched out. The point is to get it all down on paper, knowing that it's going to be really rubbish/rough, and then go back and review, amend, rewrite, etc. Patience and persistence, right?

I keep getting tempted by 'preapproved' loan offers from my bank. I was playing with some numbers today, but need to just stop doing that and focus on reducing my debt the old-fashioned way for the next few months. I'm not entirely ruling out another loan, but I'm going to see how much I can hammer it down before making any further decisions about it. Plus crunch some numbers and see if it'll just make things worse.

Wish me luck for the move and I'll update from the 'other side' - with photos!

Monday, 27 May 2019

May post!

Word of the month: Nourish

Well, it might as well be June, really, at this point. Phew! Today is the first full weekend day off I've had to post all month. It's our late May spring bank holiday and, boy!, do I feel like I need a full day to do not a lot.

The first weekend of May I was housesitting.

The following weekend I went to Wales with my cousin to visit our auntie and uncle, then cleaned for my friend at the AirBnB (I took the Friday & Monday off - and am glad I did!).

The next weekend I worked at the cafe on Saturday and cleaned the AirBnB.

Saturday, I met a couple of Canadian friends out near Gatwick Airport to spend a few hours catching up and wandering around the beautiful gardens of Nymans Gardens, a National Trust property. I hadn't seen them in 10 (!!) years, and am thrilled we were able to make a meeting happen. It was a 6.5 hr (return) train journey for me, but well worth it. They're here to bird watch, visit gardens and have a holiday, albeit it just for a week (this time). I met them when we all lived in Whitehorse. They've just recently moved to Nova Scotia from BC. It was a very long day (for all of us), but very, very worth it.

Yesterday I did my final clean at the AirBnB. The house is (actually, genuinely) sold now, and this is the last time I'll spend any time there. Quite sad, really, and our friend is genuinely depressed about leaving it. It's the best thing that could happen, though, as she's struggling to maintain it so this is the best outcome. She's going to spend a year in Norfolk, then make a decision where she wants to be. That times perfectly with our new lease (although that reverts to an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) - month to month - lease after 12 months) and my continued desire to live alone. Anyway, that's over a year away at this point, so there's no point speculating on what will happen in a year, although a year is both a very long and very short time away.

Today I am puttering. I've swept the garage so it's ready to take packed boxes from the flat, dropped Roomie E at work, and don't really intend to do much more, other than sitting down to do some writing. I haven't done any of note since the end of March (!), so I'm doing a bit of rewriting of bits that currently are too convenient/no longer make sense/etc. At least I've been getting some ideas popping up recently, and I think that's because the move is, for the most part, all sorted.


Carpet cleaners booked. Cleaner booked. Furniture bought from the current tenant at the new place (he offered when we were looking around! Ha ha!). We need a van yet, but Roomie E is going to take care of that over the next couple of days. We're not getting movers this time - we're going to do it ourselves. Cheaper but harder work. Anyway, wish us luck!

I've taken holidays from 13-24 June which covers the entire moving arc because I don't want to get too stressed about it. Also, because Roomie E gets only until 6pm on moving day (!!) to get as much done as she can, I think a lot of unpacking and set up will be up to me. So that's fine.

Tomorrow is my long, long overdue review at work (they were waiting on the Brexit results...and finally got tired of it), and I'm not sure if I'm looking forward to it. I suppose I am, as I'm not really expecting anything dramatic or unexpected to come up. It's just nice to sit down and hear what they have to say, really. I think I'd know by now if I was doing a crummy job!

Brexit continues to wreak havoc - Thursday's EU elections decimated the Conservative and Labour Parties (no surprise). The Conservatives returned the worst results since, I think, 1894!! Nigel Farage - one of people behind the original Brexit movement - and his new Brexit Party, formed a scant 6 weeks ago, have raced to the top of the heap. He promises to deliver Brexit (as a No Deal option only, apparently), but I think he's dreaming. I would love nothing more than to see the smug, self-satisfied grin wiped off his face.

I'm not sure how this new EU parliament is going to go forward. France has gone slightly right-wing with Le Pen, although only by a percentage point or two and Macron remains President; Merkel slipped in again, followed by the Greens (hooray); and the Greens and Lib Dems made great strides here in the UK as well which is good news. It's almost a 50/50 pro/leave Brexit mix, however, in Brussels now. The next several years will be very interesting and possibly very unpleasant.

Mrs May resigned on Friday. 7 June is her last day as PM. I wish good luck to the incoming PM, whoever s/he might be. I'd also like to remind them of all the other issues that have been ignored/forgotten over the past 29 months and ask that they please focus their attention to those as well.

Saturday, 27 April 2019

New flat!!

This is where we're going (unsure how long the link will be 'live'). Pending references, etc., we're moving in June. :D


Saturday, 20 April 2019

April mid-month update!


It's been a busy two weeks around here, mostly revolving around the issue of moving house. I had made it quite clear that I wanted to move alone this time because it was time, and I wanted to be walking distance from work.

That only lasted a week when I saw my very first (and only) studio flat. It wasn't awful but it was, um, compact (compared to what we have; to be fair, I would adapt), although had a decent bathroom and separate, if very tiny, kitchen. It was clean, tidy and had double glazed windows and a new, updated electric heater in the living space. It was, in a word, fine. EXCEPT (!!!) it didn't come with a washing machine or fridge freezer. Quoi? I would have to supply my own (this is apparently how it's done when renting, but every place I've looked at since has both, so not convinced). So, on top of my deposit of £780 (expected) and the letting agency fees (£418!!!), I'd have to fork out for appliances. Even second hand, I'd have to arrange delivery so would be looking at around £150 for both (at the high end). Which makes £1,348 before I've even moved in...

I had £1255 total. I was angry and frustrated by this, so thought perhaps renting a room might be the way to go, with all bills included. I also mentioned to Roomie E that I wasn't able to go on my own which apparently threw off plans being made with others, which have since settled. I spent a few days feeling frustrated and annoyed and really off until I finally realised what the problem was - I don't want to live with ANYONE, but I can't afford not to at this point. Moving into a room in someone's house would simply mean learning new routines, new characters, new habits, etc. If I have to continue living with someone, it might as well be someone I like and whose routines I already know. Our schedules conflict somewhat, but that's just the way it is.

We are, however, trying to find somewhere in the same area and have already seen one flat in the next village over (right opposite the beach!). I don't love it, but I wouldn't be unhappy with it either if it turned out to be the best option. We have two others lined up today, though, slightly cheaper, both with garages (!) and would mean I don't have to adjust my commute to any great extent. I like one better than the other, although I can't quite explain why without having seen either...hmm!

Adding to the stress was the receipt of our latest electricity bill...£840!!! (Estimated) It's a good thing I was sitting down when Roomie E told me. I was, as the English say, gobsmacked. We managed to get a meter reading, however, and the bill fell by over £130, but that was still another £700 we had to fork out! My share took almost a quarter of the money I've managed to save for deposits, etc., leaving me quite depressed.

So it's been a bit of a rollercoaster this month in respect of finances. I've not been eating well either, which doesn't help, but I'm stuck in that cycle of not eating/exercising well so feeling tired & down, and then just feeling like toast for dinner, you know? Ugh. Unsettling. Upsets to my routine play utter havoc with my eating habits.

The same day I had seen the studio flat and realised my hopes of 'single living' had been dashed, my sister asked for a £575 loan. She was waiting for a payment from the council that hadn't come through as she'd hoped. So this added to my anger, but I couldn't NOT give her the money, but it is definitely the last time, particularly as she already still owes me money. I got just over half of it back the following week, but still...

I've been feeling a bit better the past week, but won't feel entirely back to normal until we've found a place and have moved in if I'm honest. I packed three boxes yesterday of bits and pieces in my room, and have a box of things ready to go to the charity shop (more to come, I hope), so it's a start. Packing up the 'things' that aren't necessary to living at this point will help and if we find a place close enough, making multiple trips in the car won't be too much of a trial, which will hopefully save a bit of cash on movers.

I'm cleaning for my friend three times this week, so that will go towards petrol (which has jumped almost 10p per litre in two weeks - agh!) and some groceries until payday. But the weather this weekend is glorious - up to 23C today, so that will help a little bit. We've got the flat viewings starting at 11:00 and then I have an appointment with a psychic this afternoon. I've been on the waitlist since December for this, so am really looking forward to it.

I also asked about staff reviews at work as we've been waiting since January for them. They are going ahead, the MDs were just waiting for Brexit results, but as that's now delayed - again - until end of October, they're going to arrange to get them done. Finally!

On Tuesday I had a telephone appointment with an adviser from the National Career Services (job centre). I wanted a bit of a review of my CV and she gave me some really good advice, also saying it's more or less already how it should look but can always use some tweaks. She sent me some links to job sites, so I'm going to spend some time over the next several months tweaking the CV and looking out for other job opportunities. I'm not yet ready to move on, but this feels like the best first step to shake off the apathy that can set in.

I've only read one full book in the past couple of weeks! I read and read and read for NetGalley and - I can't believe I'm saying this - I think I burned myself out! I'm struggling to find the enthusiasm to read for fun now, and still have a few to read for review. However, I know it's only a glitch and I'll soon be back at it. The last one I read was 'Murder at the Grand Raj Palace' by Vaseem Khan. This is one of my absolute favourite series, set in Mumbai and with an elephant sidekick. If you like No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, you'll love this. There's some definite character development so I suggest you start at the beginning with 'The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra'.

April rolls on - I've only JUST written up (part of) my journal for the month. May is going to be really busy. I've got a long weekend of house sitting; a visit to Wales; moving; Dogstival...phew! Plus packing and sorting in my evenings. But I'm looking forward to it.

Have a lovely long weekend!

Sunday, 31 March 2019

April just around the corner - changes abound!

Word of the Month: Finance(s)! £$

And here we are - more or less - in a new month. Again! Is it just because we're getting older that time seems to whiz by faster than it did when we were younger? I don't know. But another month has sped by regardless.

Brexit was a crash and burn on Friday. A German friend of mine described it perfectly: Clusterf**k. Leave, stay, deal, no-deal - we've paid an exorbitant price for it over the past 2.5 years AND a 'healthy' raise for the Parlimentarians just a few months ago. Poor loves. All that 'hard' work and nothing to show for it. If I worked that 'hard' for a result like that, I'd be fired. Perhaps that's at the back of their minds?? This whole fiasco has taken over entirely, leaving hundreds of other issues forgotten, languishing, overlooked, underfunded, etc. to the detriment of every single one of us. Anyhoo, we now have until April 12 to come up with a new scheme/plot/desperate attempt (or not). Any further time requested after that threatens the current 'plan' as EU elections are imminent (potential changes to the current committee/task force).


Anyway, in better news, it's SPRING! My birthday is on Tuesday and the weather bodes quite well - warm-ish but showery. Typical, but nonetheless, I'm quite looking forward to it. 

I have absolutely no plans, but I might pop into a shop at lunchtime and treat myself to something new. My wardrobe is feeling dull, old, flat, etc. Some really pretty things around at the moment and I'm torn between handing over my CC and hauling some new duds home (that I honestly do need) and being overly cautious because I do have other things to attend to.

The biggest reason for this is that as well as the non-event of Brexit happening on Friday, we also got our notice on the flat. Our move date is (before) 31 May. It wasn't entirely unexpected, what with a one-year lease. The landlord has decided to sell. Prior to that, however, the damp proofing works need to be done to take care of the damp/mould issue we've been experiencing. Our landlady wants to do it once we've left, which is really the most sensible solution for all involved as the works are apparently quite disruptive for about 14 days. Roomie E and I will be going our separate ways, as this is my opportunity to move closer to work, and her staying in the current area makes more sense for her job. 

This means I need to register with a new estate agency which also means additional fees. I don't believe our current agency lets properties in Ringwood, at least I've never seen anything advertised by them. I'll be missing the new legislation banning letting fees, however, as that comes into effect 1 June and I'll have arranged everything and moved prior to that. The only thing I can do to mitigate that cost somewhat is to find an agency with 'more reasonable' fees. I can't avoid it, but I will have my deposit coming back to me and that will offset the costs (movers, cleaners, fees, etc. Geez...) that I will likely have to put on my CC. 

I'm looking at a studio flat, nothing glamourous, but all I'm able to afford. I'm hoping costs will even out a little bit, as the idea is to not drive as often and save money on petrol in that respect (currently about £60 for almost a month). Plus, walking to work - about 20 mins from town centre - every day is bound to be better for the waistline, too! There's a big Lidl five minutes walk from the estate, too, so I'll be able to budget my food a bit more tightly as well. These flats come up semi-regularly - there was a bit of a flurry in the last two weeks - so I'm not worried, although I am kind of hoping a little one-bed I saw on the High Street last year comes up again. Who knows? I'm going to start looking and that's all I can do.

I'm going to start collecting boxes for my tchotkes and bits and stuff and have asked if I'm able to start storing some things at the office (yes). I'm going to declutter, as usual, and a move is a perfect opportunity. I already have a box designated for donations, it's just a matter of dropping the items off at a charity shop (repeatedly!).

My mobile phone died, as I mentioned in my last post, so I tried again to get a PAC number from my provider. Of course, they'll try anything to keep you, so I was quite proud of myself for making them work a little bit for that privilege. I kept firm to my budget (less than £20 a month), and initially got my same data package - 4GB, unlimited texts/minutes - for £9 a month instead of my current £16, but worthless if the phone doesn't work. So I got a new phone & current data package for a fixed monthly price of £19 (24-month contract). Ideally, I'd get SIM-only, but I can't even do that if my phone doesn't work, so I'm keeping that in mind for the end of the current contract. I've actually not had any issues with my provider, so am happy enough to stay with them, and am pleased they spent so much time trying to keep my business.

While it seems I'm spending more on my monthly package, I'm actually not. I consistently went over my £16 monthly 'limit', at least doubling it most months, so I've capped the overage on the new phone at £0 for that. It should keep things consistent. The phone is last year's model (who cares) and is massive compared to the old one. I've finally got it set up and am getting the hang of it. I'm not tethered to my phone and almost literally use it only for texting or WhatsApp'ing. My data package is massive for that, but that's what I was offered, so whatever. I had 17 voice mails waiting for me - ha ha! It means that I need to collect phone numbers and stuff again, but that won't be too difficult.

April's word, as you'll see, is 'finances'. I need to focus on these this month, whether it's redirecting some funds elsewhere, combining accounts, looking to cash out my veryveryvery tiny investment to put towards debt (literally £100), where I can make more, moving costs. All that good/bad/ugly stuff. My sister owes me about £200 but I can't expect that anytime soon so while that's going on my list, I'm not officially 'counting' it at the moment.

I made my first payment on my 0% CC yesterday too. I'm so used to thinking 'but interest still needs to be added', I almost didn't. Then I was like, 'BUT THERE ISN'T ANY!! YAHOO!!' so one month down (a portion of my deposit refund WILL be going towards paying down CCs).

I had a dentist appointment yesterday and my teeth are all clean and shiny now. I can see why the hygienists prefer the ultrasonic picks - they're fast! I'm not overly keen on them, but my first experience with one wasn't great as it seemed to hurt my teeth, but dental technology has advanced greatly since then, so there were no issues at all except for a very sensitive wisdom tooth, which she had to do by hand. So, all good, with a reminder to 'floss every day'. I paid cash and because they had no change - usually take cards - I have a £2 credit for my next appointment in October. Ha ha!

While I was in my appointment, I had my car washed by the crew in the parking lot. The fellow did a fab job (£5) and Pascale looks loooooovely. She was looking very grimy.

My book still has legs but the forward momentum has stalled at Chapter 7. I'm feeling a bit stuck now. I've resorted to vignettes of different scenarios with different characters interacting to see if I can get more of a feel of motivation/character/personality, etc. Some surprises, but it's also fun. I think I need to figure out the murderer, motive, some clues to add, red herrings, etc. because it's a bit flat at the moment. Anyhow, it's early days yet, so having something is better than absolutely nothing!

Happy spring, everyone!