Sunday, December 16, 2018

9 More Sleeps Until Christmas

For my Downton Abbey peeps.

Yes, that's right. It's almost time again.

This year, I've been really embracing the Christmas spirit. I've been listening to music in the car, wearing my tacky jumpers, and decorated the house like it's Santa's grotto. It must be having the new house, and knowing that we'll have plenty of room for everyone to hang out. (By everyone, I mean me, Mister Pick, the dog, and the two cats now. We still have our boy, Jake, but we've also added Elle to our family.)

For our Christmas build up, we've been to Beamish Christmas, as usual, and we went to the Christmas market at Grey's Monument. This week coming will be our events at work, so, yeah, Santa is coming to town. Soon!

I’ve still been working on my bullet journaling, but the plans of world domination with my blog and plethora of eBooks will be on hold once again. I applied for an apprenticeship at work, and I’m pleased to report I got a place. Next year will be different with that plus the new systems we’re implementing in the libraries. It’s going to be different, but a good change of pace.

So here’s hoping that Christmas will be a nice time to relax and get back on track, so the New Year can be full of new adventures.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Seeing Jack White in Edinburgh This was the first time we'd been to Edinburg in a while. Our objective (well, mainly my lifetime objective) -- to see Jack White in the flesh! So we dropped off Daisy at doggie daycare, jumped on a train, and headed north last Sunday. Our hotel was located in Grassmarket for easy walking from the station and Usher Hall. That meant we had plenty of pubs and the castle to view from our room. It's too bad our trip was short because we could have spent a load more time looking around (I still haven't been to the Writer's Museum I don't think) but we walked up to the castle, had some pub grub, explored some Harry Potter shops and a museum on what was the inspiration for Diagon Alley. There are a ton of Americans there, let me assure you. Then we headed to Usher Hall. This was the first time we'd been to a gig that didn't allow phones. They asked if you had one when you went in and then gave you a little green sock thing that locked. On the way out, someone was there to systematically pop locks as you walked out. Pretty straight forward except a lot of people didn't get theirs locked up. Now, to be fair, I didn't see those people using their phones during the show (I figure Jack would scorn and shout at anyone who tried) so it wasn't a horrible experience at all. It was just weird not knowing what time it was. I could have worn my watch, I suppose, but I didn't risk it in case those needed locking up too. Too much faff when I could easily leave everything locked in the safe at the hotel. Now I've tried to remember all of the songs he did and all I can say was, it was a pleasant mixed bag. White Stripes songs, Dead Weather (this he played with the opening band who were local Newcastle lads), some Raconteurs and, of course, his new solo stuff. And he played Beck's "Devil's Haircut" which was cool. Steve said he had never seen anyone get a crowd so worked up and after an hour or show and an hour encore, I knew what he was going to end with. Seven Nation Army. I mean, come on! That was so amazing! Afterwards we were pleased and happy with money well spent and fully entertained. Steve isn't a huge fan but he really liked the show, so I was pleased by that as well. Before heading back to the hotel we had a nightcap at a Tiki Bar and I had a Taste the Rainbow which was Skittles Vodka and strawberry flavours. When we got back, I took my shower, said "goodnight" to the castle, and crashed. I had to take a Monday off work just to travel home early in the morning, but it was so worth it. Jack White promised he'd be back to Edinburgh, so I'll count on going back myself. My mother said she saw him on TV watching the World Series in Boston, so he must have hopped on the tram first thing to get to the airport in time. Bless.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Recovering from a holiday

Happy sunrise

I don't know how else to explain my crappy mood -- I'm just recovering from my holiday.

We left on the 17th of September and went to Disney the first week. We were Jack and Sally for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and we had to turn back early from the gorilla exhibit at Animal Kingdom due to lightning in the area. We had dinner at the Japanese Steakhouse in EPCOT which was super fun and I can’t recommend it enough. After dinner, funny enough, we came across a concert and saw Living Color play live. (Yes, we got to hear “Cult of Personality.”) Steve shook the guitar player’s hand, we said hello to the singer, and all and all we had the best anniversary so far.

The first weekend was our Bahamas trip. We took my parents who had hemmed and hawed about this for ages, but went and enjoyed themselves as we knew they would. They got to try out their shiny new passports, and Dad took photos of Nassau as we came into port. We all hung out in a cabana on Coco Cay and the weather didn’t let us down the entire time. (Plus, the ship only swayed a bit in the night, which I was supremely thankful for.)

But after all of the fun in the sun, and the visiting my friends and family, and the staying up late to eat pizza and watch good TV had to end, and I was just sad. I went to work on Wednesday after we flew in on Tuesday and since then I’d been just plain blah.

Yesterday I got my flu jab and today was my day off and only the second day I’ve spent alone in the new house. I finished up Season Six of OITNB and then just napped. I spent all day feeling super sorry for myself because I’m back in jolly old England where it’s 40 degrees Fahrenheit and just ugh! Why me?

But finally I knew I had to pull myself out of it because I started my MSc computer course again this week and I have a blank bullet journal and a new Happy Planner that needs my attention. Also, I’m trying to read Girl, Wash Your Face since it’s been talked about and recommended online a lot lately.

Other than that, it’s just back to being me in Pick Manor. Steve is good, Daisy is scheduled for her surgery on the 1st of December (which irritates me because I had tickets to see A Christmas Carol at Newcastle Uni’s Northern Stage that night) and Jake may be getting a new sister. There’s an elderly cat who’s in need of a retirement home, so she may be coming to live with us now. The more the merrier, I guess, yeah? Wish us luck!

Sunday, September 9, 2018

September is for holidays

River Tyne

Well, it’s finally September which means we’ll be going to Florida this month. I can be home for my birthday and our anniversary and I can see my parents. I can go to Wal-Mart and drink Frappuccino’s while I stroll through Target. I can walk through Disney and eat all the food in Epcot. I can go on a cruise ship and swim along the beach in The Bahamas. I can sit by the pool in Cocoa Beach like I did when we lived there in 1989.

This is the best time of the year.

We have our new house so this will be the first post from the new office / spare room. {waves from the new office window}

The above photo is from the river which is across from our neighborhood. Obviously, we don’t live in the posh side of town, but it’s fun to hang out over there. Yesterday we went to the Food Market and had breakfast at the café along the river walk. We’re glad we moved and we really didn’t know how nice it was on this side of town, so here we are. All settled and enjoying life.

I’d given up on bullet journals. I really wanted to find lots of design ideas online but most of it is about sketching and doodling and I am not arty at all. I don’t want an art book, I want a planner. Oh well.

Having said that, I’ve lost my bullet journal. I put it in a big plastic zip folder and I left it out of my book bag for ages because I wasn’t even bothering to try and decorate it like arty people online are. (Follow bullet journals on Instagram — you’ll see what I mean.) But now we’ve moved and that folder has gone walkabout. I wanted to have a go again, but it’s in some not-so-obvious place.

When I’m in Florida, I totally plan on getting another Happy Planner and I’ll look for a new bullet journal to keep with it. It should help with my book reviews, blog posts, school work (I’ve re-enrolled for my computer science course) and anything creative that I try to write in the meantime.

Aside from the bullet journal, the house move, and the re-enrolment of school, we’ve just been carrying on. Work has been super busy and I get to the end of the week, ready to cry because I’ve been running to and from libraries, answering questions, trying to fix things and help customers and staff for days. Yes, it’s rewarding and yes it’s better than being bored stiff, it just gets exhausting. I didn’t have more than Sunday off during a 11 day stretch of being at work, so I think it just finally got to me.

Oh well, the holiday is coming and I’ll be doing fun in the sun type activities.

I still feel bad that I haven’t started or worked on a writing project during my time in Florida for years. The intent is always there, but my mind is so focused on other things that the writing just isn’t in the forefront of important tasks to complete.

Anyway, next week will be getting ready for the holiday time. I’ll work every day but Wednesday and Sunday so I have a hair appointment, my Weight Watchers meeting (I don’t even want to imagine how much I may have gained in the last three weeks), and we’re going to see Garbage at Northumbria University. I can finally see Shirley Manson and Butch Vig with my eyes. I was supposed to see them in Tampa when I saw Smashing Pumpkins, but I got to the show too late.

Fun fact: when I first came to the U.K., Mister Pick took me to Edinburgh and there we saw a genealogy exhibit about Shirley Manson.

Edinburgh fascinates me every time I go. The next time we’re supposed to be there will in October so we can see JACK WHITE. Finally! I’ve only waited, what, 18 years to finally see him live?

With that said, it’s time to watch Robocop with Mister Pick who did a poll on Twitter, asking everyone what old action movie I should see. (My parents were adamant that it was too violent for me in the 80s.) (Also, I voted to see Predator because of all the Aliens connections.)

Last book I read was My Best Friend’s Exorcism, which I can’t recommend enough. I read it in about three days. I’ve not been that into a book for a long, long time. I’ll be sure to write a review on bookblogarama soon. My holiday book of choice is already on my desk, ready to go: Crazy Rich Asians.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Countdown to moving day

Cragside House and bridge

This will probably be the last post I’ll write in our flat. It’s now Sunday and we’re scheduled to move to our new house on Wednesday. Our movers are booked for 8AM, I was able to swap my Wednesdays off, and we have a hotel room to keep Jake (the cat) out of the way and relaxed (somewhat) while the moving chaos ensues.

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again – moving is a complete pain. I mean, I’m super excited, don’t get me wrong, but when you have no control over the aspects of if the solicitors will get the paperwork from everyone in time, and if you can or can’t get the day off just to sign your contracts, it’s sort of a quiet anxiety. You want to get upset and panic, but there really is nothing you can do but wait on things to fall into place.

But, it’s done for the most part. The last bit of paperwork the solicitor needed from us was the house’s building insurance that we transferred from the flat. The insurance company finally emailed that to us yesterday, so that’s been forwarded on to the solicitor’s office. Now, on Monday, Mister Pick has to give them the deposit on the house and we’re good to go.

We haven’t ordered any new furniture yet because I want to be there and get an idea of what color couch I really want and how high of a dining room table I’ll need. I do know that I need a washer, a dryer, and a refrigerator when we first get there, so we’re going to look at PC World for those today.

In the meantime, we’re packing. Massively packing. We’re only going 3.3 miles down the road, so it’s not like I have to worry about anything getting lost in the mix or anything. I’ve labelled things so far (basically, all of my clothes).

We were going to go to the Brontë Parsonage this coming bank holiday weekend, but with the move, we’ve cancelled that. This is still a big one on my list, so maybe Mister Pick, Daisy and I can travel down there on a regular weekend, just to nose about and spend the night. That would be nice.

Other than that, I’ve seen the BBC iPlayer documentary on Sylvia Plath, I’m still watching OITNB S6, and I picked up Fear Street: You May Now Kill the Bride last night.

So, yeah. Next time I post here I’ll be at our new house (or some random public place, let’s be honest).

Until then, enjoy your last days of summer before school starts (for those in the UK). I’m scheduled to go back to my MSc in Computing and Information Science in September too (plus going to Florida!) so I’ll be right there with you.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

A rainy Sunday for packing and doggie sitting


So, it's Sunday and a lot has been going on lately.

First off, we having an official moving date scheduled so hopefully everything will be sorted by the time and we can get out of the flat and into our new house – the future Pick Manor!

For those of you from the United Kingdom, you’ll know what an absolute pain it is to move. You’re never sure if anyone will really, really buy your property, so even if they say they’re buying the place, they could potentially pull of of the sale at any time. We’ve looked at a handful of houses where the owners have said, “Well, it was sold and we spent two months packing and finding a new place, then the buyer changed their mind or didn’t get the funding.” That’s why I didn’t let myself get too excited about any of this until they had an actual date set. I’m still going to wonder if things will fall through because we have an appointment next week to sign contracts. (Pray for us, ya’ll.)

Aside from the two weeks to get our act together, our goldendoodle girl, Daisy, has become an official teenager. She’s now 11 months old and gone into season. Now we spend most of our days keeping her in the computer room (where I sit now, typing this up for you) while we keep her company. She’s peed on the bedroom carpet and the mattress, which I’m still trying to get clean. (Try baking soda, vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, and dishwashing liquid if anyone is reading this.) If we don’t sit with her, she barks and barks and barks. Apparently, according to the internets, she’s feeling vulnerable and needs us to be around to reassure her. Also, she’ll pee more often (no kidding) and she’s marking her places that are hers which is our bedroom, mainly.

I guess we’re her humans and she’s protecting us? Who knows what’s going on in her doggy brain, but I’ve told her that she’s not getting a boyfriend, so she can forget going to the park or doggie daycare for a while. I just hope this is over by moving day time. (Again, send the prayers and good vibes!)

Today we’ve been packing and my job is to tackle the closet where all of my precious clothes are kept. (This is all while I’m trying to scrub out pee smells here and there in the bedroom.) It’s been raining a lot and with the heat, it’s still humid, so our plan is to hit the gym and try to keep up the training. How I’ll ever get marathon ready, I don’t know. Heck, I’ll walk if I need to. Screw it.

Also, I’m now loving Will Smith’s Vlog (I’m totally motivated to create a vlog now. Don’t care how cliché it is!) and OITNB Season Six. My current books are Stephen King’s The Green Mile, Holly Bourne’s Are We all Lemming and Snowflakes, and R.L. Stine’s You May Now Kill the Bride (Return to Fear Street #1) because holy crap did I love love love these books in high school!

Speaking of which, on kind of a melancholy note, it really makes me sad to enter into autumnal new school season and not be able to feel the excitement of wearing a new tartan skirt and tights, and have the feel of Fall being new and full of opportunities. I was looking at clothes in the MetroCentre yesterday and feeling down about how there’s never going to be a reason for me to want or need to dress up like I used to. I know at any age you can wear what you want and feel as good as you allow yourself, but, honestly, does anyone care if you look cute after age 40?

Anyway, I’m sure that once I get this weight off and I’m feeling healthier, I’ll be way more inclined to attempt at looking nice. And with that said, I’m off to the gym in the pouring rain.

Have a great week, everyone!

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Rainy weekend with Netflix and my bullet journal

High Bridge Street

Guys, I did absolutely nothing all weekend and it was glorious.

As I’m sure I’ve mentioned oodles of times, I work every other weekend. This weekend, I didn’t have to work. It’s been insanely hot up here (but not as bad as down south, so I hear) and we were expecting thunderstorms at the end of the week. Luckily, we had awesome rain since Friday and the temperature went down to 52F last night. (I still don’t do Celsius temperatures.)

So while it poured down rain and the fresh, cool breeze made the flat much more bearable to live in, I had zero motivation to go anywhere. I was happy watching Netflix, writing in my bullet journal, and playing The Sims. No, I did not write. No, I did not read. These activities seem to be more weekday things when I’m out and need calming distractions from the daily grind. (Then I can complain when I don’t have time to spend lots of time on them.)

Hanging out with Steve, Daisy, and Jake all weekend has been wonderful. I just felt like I needed to be shut away from the world to recuperate from the constant running around that I usually do in the week. I go to six libraries in 5 days. My job requires me to be around people all of the time. I’m chatty all of the time. I’m efficient, helpful, prompt, courteous, and everything in between all week. I think I deserve some max chill out days, especially when the weather isn’t very welcoming.

What’s been keeping me nice and relaxed lately has been my bullet journal. Now, I’ve said before on Twitter that I refuse to post any photos of my pages because I’m just not an artist and the pages look like a janky mess. Steve, who is an artist, has suggested that it’s because I rush my designs. I rush everything because I always feel that urgency – things must be done now! Quick! Go! But, doing design and art means practice and patience, so the #bujo (yeah, I did it) is really helpful for me to focus on something tactile that, I wouldn’t say, de-stresses me because it isn’t a stress I feel, it’s just a nice, calming activity.

I remember working at the school and giving hyperactive kids coloring books and puzzles. They would be fixated on the task for a good while and I can see now that it was probably something they really needed instead of being fidgety and trying to find an outlet for their overactive brains. Personally, it’s just really entertaining and I love watching the videos on how other people use their bullet journals. That in itself is really addictive.

So … I have a new hobby? Cool.

For Netflix, I watched the first episode of Season Six of OITNB, but I didn't watch more because I'm still on The Staircase, which is really addictive.

Seriously, guys. I think I should have been a detective, or a lawyer, or at least a police officer. There’s still time to get a new career, isn’t there?

Anyway, so that’s how the weekend has gone. I have the rest of the evening to talk a walk with Daisy, take a bath, write something that resembles fiction, talk to my parents on the phone, and hang out with Steve until bedtime. I’d love to have a holiday where I just stayed home for about a week, but right now I think that won’t be until after Christmas. Oh well, I’ll just have to keep my self in check and make sure that I give myself plenty of recovery time.

Actually, I should block that out in my daily bullet journal entries.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Seahman and the Great Exhibition of the North 2018

Seaham Marina

Getting back to things we’ve done lately and failing to keep up -- we travelled to Seaham, Durham about a month ago. Actually, Daisy had been here before we ever were because she attends doggy day care and they sometimes take her on little adventures when it’s warm out.

That dog has an awesome life.

At Seaham, there is a nice little town to walk around, plus big named shops like Asda and a Costa. We went to the marina (picture above) and went on a rocky section of beach before finding a nice, soft sand beach. Daisy was overjoyed because there were lots of little kids for her to try and play with, so we had to try and entertain her otherwise. Plenty of places to get an ice cream and plenty of places to relax on a warm, sunny day.

Aside from the beach trip, we went to the Hancock museum a couple of times for the Great Exhibition of the North event that they have on all through summer. We didn’t see the fireworks at the Quayside or anything on the first opening day, but what we did see was quite cool.

First the museum has all sorts of new exhibits, one of which was the first edition of a book that I read as a student at University of Central Florida way before I ever imagined being a British citizen. The Blazing World is one of the first sci-fi books and it was written by a woman so, take that old, dead white guys!

The other night, we went to a talk that Steve’s old company did about their work on the Marvel movies. I was a proud gal that night when I saw so many kids and students asking the guys their advice on how to get into concept art.

Then in town we came across an art project where people could rename streets on the map of Gateshead and Newcastle. Of course, I named on street after my parents, and Steve named one of the streets after the allotment that we finally got.

Now, as of today, I have not been as active in the allotment as I was when we first got it. It’s an absolute mess, which I’ve been told by a few people, is totally normal. We’ve spent a good month or so, pulling up weeds. Some of it is mare’s tail which our allotment manager told us is a right pain to get rid of. Still, we have some vegetable plants from the library (they do all sorts at my work!) so we’ll have some summer vegetation around the weeds. Yuck.

Also, we saw Elvis Costello at Newcastle City Hall on the 25th of June. That was very cool and since Steve loves his music so much, I was glad to give him the tickets as a late birthday present. Elvis had to cut his tour short due to health reasons and we wish him the very best of health. The librarians I work with are eager to go along next time to see him again in Newcastle.

Right now, Steve and Daisy are on a stroll while I have the flat to myself for a bit. Our house purchase is going at a slow pace, but as far as we know now, things are just carrying on as normal. I figure they’ll give us a date to move, and we’ll panic because we’ve been laying low for a while and just waiting for the official green light on everything.

Other than that, I’m trying to use my bullet journal for keeping up with my blog posts and my writing progress, so both of those things are scheduled for today. I have one post down, now I need some work on my book to keep me up to date.

Until next time!

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Warkworth Castle and Hermitage

Warkworth Castle, Northumberland

I was going to write an update for June because the last post I made was when we visited the Picks in Liverpool in March. However, life being as it is, and my trying to spend more time with my brain turned to de-stress, so I haven’t spent loads of time updating here. I started plenty of posts, but never got around to finishing them. But, alas, it’s Sunday, and Steve is getting lunch ready, and Daisy is hanging out with me in the computer room, listening to 6 Music, so it’s as good of a time as any.

We’ve travelled plenty since March, and I always post something on my Instagram which posts to my Twitter and my Tumblr. (I just realized that my book posts go to my Missus P Tumblr and the personal photos go to my bookblogarama Tumblr. Why did I do that?!)

Anyway, so for this post, I figured I’d work backwards a bit about what’s been going on. Yesterday we went to Warkworth Castle (seen above) and Hermitage. It was a glorious day and we took Daisy along who has now been on her first boat ride. (She was more interested in the ducks in the river than the actual boat.) The castle was really well-preserved and it was very cool to be able to take the stairs to the wine cellar and walk upstairs to see the awesome view of the coast at Amble. Unfortunately with the heat, we didn’t travel to the beach on the way home, but we did have a picnic on the castle grounds, and after the boat trip and a relaxing sit down by the River Coquet, we went for some ice cream at Morwick Dairy. There Daisy met some cows of all age ranges, which she wasn’t so sure about. Of course I fell in love with all of the calves and decided that I do want a farm when I retire.

A nice renovated farm house in Northumberland. Turn it into a B&B but still keep my chickens and occasional farm animals. Ahh. Bliss.

Anyway, if you’re heading to the dairy after the castle visit, make sure to check your Google Map because we entered in the post code that was given and ended up down the street at someone else’s farm. Oh well, we made it eventually.

Last week I started my bullet journal which I’ve been going on about via Twitter. I am so not artistic in any way, so trying to make graph paper with notes pretty is just not something that naturally comes to me. I started watching videos on how to set up a bullet journal, and this channel from Seventeen has been great. I have highlighters, stickers, fine line pens, and a ruler now with all the Rulers of England that I bought at the castle gift shop.

I may be a British citizen, but as an American, I feel it is my duty to appreciate my love of the English Heritage by purchasing souvenirs. Whenever I go somewhere I buy a magnet for our fridge at home, and the magnetic shelf in the office where we keep all of our ones from holidays. Since my “holidays” are weekend getaways and little adventures, I like spreading the British pride to my co-workers.

Aside from the bullet journal, I wrote one day for Camp NaNoWriMo, which is shameful because I always have the best intentions. Maybe the journal will keep me more on target.

I’m also going to use the journal for my blogging and today I can mark down that I actually wrote a post. Hooray for me!

As of today we have 63 days, 23 hours, and 39 minutes left until my Florida trip. This year we’re going on a cruise again but this time we’re going to Nassau instead of Freeport, so I’m glad we’re seeing something different. Also, my parents are coming with me, which I’m also super happy about. They aren’t convinced that they’ll like it, but since it’s a three day excursion, I think they can dip their toe into cruising with us and see how much fun it can really be.

We’ve been watching videos on YouTube about Toy Story Land, and ogling new merchandise to buy in the parks. Apparently there’s a new Disney Play app that I’ll be getting once I’m home. Plus, they have new MagicBands and I think I want the Mickey ice cream one, but I can’t find it online again, so I may have to go with All About the Bow Minnie.

Our flat sale is going well as far as we can tell. We finally got our sold sign out front, and the mortgage offer from the bank has gone to the solicitor, so hopefully we’ll be in our new place before we go on holiday.

I know I have way more travelling updates to post here because we’ve hit some great National Trust and English Heritage sites, including our trip to Whitby at the beginning of June for Steve’s birthday. However, it is now lunchtime and my fish and chips await me!

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

It's citizenship day!

Hip and caffeinated ☕️

I don't think anyone loves this photo as much as I do. I thought it was cool that I had all the things hip going on at once -- hip people, a guy with a hip hat, and even a coffee, all while at a hip movie theatre.

Anyway, I wanted to post something of an update today just because it's sort of a special day. Right now, I am an American citizen. By 4PM I will be an American citizen as well as a British citizen. How exciting?

Unfortunately, though, I'm ill. Like not a normal cold, ill. Been in bed for days, can't mentally function kind of ill. This is the price we pay to work in customer service, I suppose. All the germs travel to us, then we end up feeling guilty about being off sick and pass it on to all of our co-workers. Last time I was off, however, I had the stomach flu, so having a stuffy cold may be some sort of consolation prize. Not sure.

Aside from that, things at Pick Manor have been iffy. I had the brilliant idea of buying a house a while ago and now that we're finally in the process, we found that it's just a huge pain. First of all, you have to sell your property first before anyone will "take you seriously" about purchasing another. This means no matter how much your bank has approved you for in financing or how much you have saved, you can't make any kind of move unless it's sold. (Granted, yes, if you want to, you can have two properties and rent one out, but you end up paying a penalty for this and yay taxes!)

We came close to buying a new house near Steve's work, but that was just too expensive. We would have poured all of that savings he worked so hard for, just to have something that wasn't in the location we wanted and wasn't even big enough for a washer and a dryer. (It's not common to find these things in a British house, but if I'm going to move, I'd like the option, you know?)

So we're sitting here waiting. Poor Steve has had a hard time of it, because this is just so bloody stressful. When the surveyors came around to check our property in lieu of the new house purchase, an electrician told us that our flat needed a whole rewire because it was dangerous. We'd not done anything to the electrics since Steve moved in here in 2008 so that was freaking frustrating. The electrician told us what a nightmare it would be and how we couldn't even consider having it done ourselves because the electricians would turn it into a bomb site and it would be unliveable afterwards. He suggested we have the builders handle that, take the cut in the offer the builders gave us for our flat as part-exchange, and get on with it. The builders weren't having that, so we took Daisy to doggy day-care, and toted Jake to a hotel with us for three days while an electrician did the work. Mind you, this was the third electrician we had come around to do a quote because the first two were like, "What a mess! This is awful! How could you live here with this?! Why did you purchase it?" and on and on.

With the recent Beast from the East snowageddon, I learned that it's illegal to not clear the snow off the hood and roof of your car. It's too dangerous. However, a flat that has dodgy electrics that could potential kill everyone in the building -- that's okay? Makes no earthly sense whatsoever.

But no matter. Here I am in England, trying to hang out with a severe cold with my cat on the coffee table, my dog in "her" room which is the computer room that Steve's in currently working from home. I still have my lovely view from my big picture window in the living room and we still have money in the bank. All in all, it could be worse. It's just freaking frustrating.

Nonetheless, I will become a royal subject this afternoon and celebrate at a pub in the best British fashion this evening. Cheers!

Monday, January 1, 2018

Things that won’t happen in 2018

My new iPhone has an awesome camera!

New Year's Resolutions. I usually do them, but this year, I'm not so sure I should bother.

Last year I put something like I was going to do well at my job, eat better, exercise more, write my books, read my books, and be a genuinely 100% perfect individual. It didn’t happen, or actually it happened in moments, so maybe I did okay in the end, but if I were to write the same tired goals down, I’d just be wasting time and kidding myself.

So here’s what’s not going to happen in 2018:

I’m not going to finish a book. I know that because as has been for the last two years, I do not have time. My job is an on-the-go kind of job so I don’t sit and ponder my next scene as much as I used to. I’m also around people all the time, so I can’t focus on anything creative. I only really feel myself and focused on creative tasks when I’m home for a few days (like Christmas and New Year’s Day). Sure, I can write a few paragraphs here and there, but it doesn’t amount to anything. I could write short stories, but I gave that up a long time ago. I could piece the stories together, sure, but that would take planning and organization which, again, takes time that I don’t have.

I won’t read more. This is from the same exact reasons as the writing, although I do have time set aside for reading, I usually spend it staring off into space on the bus, or looking at my phone. I still buy books and I still like to promote them on my blog but I only recently updated my Currently Reading list on Goodreads, and it’s sort of a lie. I’m reading It, got two from Santa. I bought a couple on the £.99 Kindle sale before Christmas too.

The eating more healthy is a tricky one because that’s a big priority for me, so tell you what, I’ll really try to accomplish this one. As much as the non-writing makes me so disconnected from myself, not taking care of myself is rotten. I can’t dress up. I can’t feel good. I haven’t been able to go to Weight Watchers in ages because inevitably something happens after work on Wednesdays and I never get there. Now we have the dog, so I can’t go straight to a meeting on my half day because I have to go home and check on her. Every other Wednesday maybe or just bite the bullet and go to the super packed evening meetings (even though there is limited parking at our gym even in the afternoon on weekdays). But, whatever, if I don’t let the work schedule drain me of all motivation to do anything other than eat Greggs for lunch, then fine, I’ll do it.

Exercise. Okay, this is maybe do-able. Again, with the dog, I’ll have to be outside more and walking with her. I get up early with her anyway, so I have time to get outside and maybe make a breakfast that isn’t instant. Also, Steve and I have decided to do the Great North Run this year because everyone else loses weight from running, so this may be the only way I’m going to get motivated to do the same. We jogged a bit in October but once the dog came around and the cold set in, we stopped and adjusted our schedules around her. As she gets older, hopefully the time needed to take a run will be available.

Live in the same flat. We put ours up on the market yesterday. Now, since England has funny rules about house purchases, you won’t be “taken seriously” by a seller of a house until you have “money in the bank” with your property already sold. Doesn’t matter if you have been guaranteed a mortgage based on your income and amount your current mortgage is. Even if you’re going to sell, you have to do it first, end up without a place to live, so we may have to live in rented accommodation for a while, until we can find a new place to live. Apparently this is their “property chain” that’s totally common and no one questions it. Also, if you make an offer on a house, you’re not legally obligated to go through with the sale. You can put in offers for all sorts of houses and decide on one. Most places we’ve looked at so far (although they tell you not to bother since no one thinks anyone actually has money to buy anything) told us that their house was sold, but two months down the line the buys pulled out of the sale. This is normal, I take it, and no doubt will be stuff we’ll have to deal with with the sale of our place. But hopefully this year, we will get it sold and move into a house in the same area. (Or America??)

Just be a foreign resident of England. I applied for my UK citizenship last October. I’ve had my fingerprints done and all the fines paid, so I’m just waiting for a letter to say I can go to a swearing in ceremony in town. Exciting!

Now, I’d say I’d expect a family to turn up and to get a certificate in Computer Science, but those are things I’d really like to have happen and I don’t know if I’m going to get there by December. Hopefully though, I can have all those little hopes and dreams reached so I can have new ones for next year. (Or at least go back to the tried and true ones for 2019).

Anyway, hope everyone has a Happy New Year and hope 2018 treats you well.