With the impending farewell to my menegarie of four legged furry friends, I have turned into a bit of a stalker.  I know I am biased, but Mr Jinx is a handsome devil.  I try taking cute pictures of the kitten, Mylo, but she just glares at me as if I am a total loser and she is too cool to pose.  Hanging around the horse has proven to be more succesful and I managed to get some cracking shots of my grumpy old lady rolling in the mud.  All I can say is thank goodness I havent wanted her to look clean for any reason!  Now I have these to sets of photos, I do feel particularly guilty about not having any of the kitten up.  Although, it isnt as if she will see or know, I will know!  I must just added a little one of her on the end.


Moving house

The deed is done.  I have now officially moved in with my parents.  

I found the whole weekend to be incredibly difficult and sad.  I have been in my lovely little house for nearly 9 years.  No matter what else has occurred in my life, the constants that have remained have been me and Mr Jinx in the house.  Boyfriends, friends, jobs, hobbies and habits have all come and gone, but through it all, I have always had cuddles in my very own bricks and mortar with the four legged.

On Friday after box moving and a doubles pole class, Mr Jinx and I spent the evening together.  I took the Mylo to the farm earlier in the day.  The housemate went away for the weekend and it was spent with me eating junk food and him eating fresh chicken breast I bought for him.  Lots of cuddles.  Everytime I think about leaving him I feel devastated.  He is sleeping by my side as I type.

The moving itself was incredibly tiring, stressful and draining.  Boxes out and unloading into the barn come storage unit (or Lock Up as Dad enjoys calling it), carpets cleaned and whole house cleaned from top to bottom.  My bedroom has been somewhat like the carpet bag that Mary Poppins had and a weird amount of stuff has fitted in.  I have been taken back to my teenage years finding myself hiding cigarettes that I brought back from Bulgaria  last year.  It is ridiculous that I feel the need to do this!  At 28, if I want to smoke when I drink, I shouldnt feel I have to hide it.  Although, saying this, I am reminded of my friends 40th birthday party – friends and family – where she was sneaking out of parents sight to smoke!

It is amazing how one persons 28 years worth of life and 9 years worth of house stuff can just be put into boxes and locked away into one room.  And now, although it is only for 6 weeks, I do have to wander how it will be living with parents again….. watch this space….  

Goodbye Highfield, x

Bournemouth for the weekend: a review

I seem to have been here, there and everywhere lately!  In a week, I have spent days working in Exeter, Newton Abbot and today in Shaftesbury.  Last weekend, I went to Bournemouth to see the legend that is Jimmy Carr with the housemate.  I thought it time to sit down and stop rushing around for a minute and also wanted to share my experience of Bournemouth….

First time in Bournemouth.  It was lovely.  So lovely in fact that the housemate has decided she wants to live there!  After a nice road trip in the sunshine, we faced that nervous moment of arrival at the hotel.  We stayed at The Arlington.   Billed as a two star – incorrectly in my opinion.  £60 for a twin room for 1 night and a full cooked breakfast was includeded.  The room was small, but nice, clean and modern (lots of independent hotels are nice but dated).  We had a nice view over a park and the staff were incredibly helpful. There was even a little bar for a drink after we got back from the show.   One thing  that did strike me (that is neither good  nor bad, just amusing) is how many mirrors there were!  We had 7 in our room!

Dinner – the lady in the hotel recommended a few places and we chose Sixty Million Postcards because we liked the name!  A couple of minutes from the hotel and we couldnt see it.  Obviously we asked Wonderwoman.  Wonderwoman looked suspiciously like a man  in fancy dress, but he/ she observed we were actually stood outside with our back to it looking around for it!  Doh.  I am not  normally a big fan of burgers… I see them in diner type places and order them, then always feel disappointed.  I fell into the trap again and, for the first time, was not disappointed!  IMMENSE burger – chicken, peanut butter, cheddar cheese and mushroom with just the right amount of skinny chips.

Off to the venue – Bournemouth International Centre.  5 minutes if that from our hotel.  Have seen Jimmy Carr many many times before live and this time was just as funny as ever.  I just love his brand of constantly telling joke after joke after joke, dealing with hecklers and pushing the boundaries.  I must confess that they have to be a little bit wrong to appeal to my sense of humour.  Dont get me wrong, I enjoy Michael McIntyre and many others, but they are no JC!

On the Sunday, we had our fry up and took a nice long walk in the sunshine along the beach.  It was a real delight.  One of those occasions that you just never want to end – content, happy and carefree in those moments.

On the way home, we found a Farm Shop to peruse.  I love a farm shop!  Can spend ages just mooching about and then spending a fortune!!  Pasta sauce, some cards and some gifts for birthdays coming up purchased and we were off home.  

In summary, if you are after a weekend away, I would definitely say that Bournemouth is the place to go!

Preparing for employment

This week, I had my first experiences speaking with real life Canadians.

1.  I completed the Smart Serve qualification.  To serve or prepare alcohol in Ontario, you need to complete this online training course.  I found the whole experience really easy, the website was easy to navigate and at the end I had to connect to a Canadian dude via a webcam process (again, I just pressed a button and it all worked) to take a 35 question test.  I am pleased to say I passed!  As I currently work in the field of drug and alcohol addiction, I dont think I could have faced the shame of not passing!  It costs $39.49 and I think is well worth having to give me more employment options.  Click here to go to their website.

2.  I managed to speak with a lady who works with addictions and offenders in Toronto.  As this one was a telephone contact, I got the full Canadian experience.  The first thing that tickled me was that in the process of getting through to her, everyone I spoke to said ‘sure’ alot.  She was really lovely and helpful and gave me contact details for who to speak with nearer to when I go to Toronto to see about visiting the service and volunteering/ applying for a job.  This was really positive and I feel like I have a good starting point for when it is time to actually start applying for jobs and speaking with employers.  Another thing that amused me with the accent is how we would say the word ‘remand‘ almost like ‘rimand‘ and she pronounced it ‘ree-mand’.  I love accents and fear that I may not actually get anything done over there as I will be too busy being entertained by Canadian accents!

Candian food review #1 – Kraft Dinner

I have previously written about the different Candian foods I want to try when I get to Canada.  Well, I have been a little premature with this having spotted a Kraft Dinner in Tesco in the foreign food aisle.  It was basically like a short pot noodle.  Microwaveable in 3.5 minutes and super easy.  Now, if you like cheese singles, this is definately the dinner for you.  I happen to love cheese singles!  It tasted how I would imagine it tastes to melt Kraft cheese singles and mix them with pasta.  The first few mouthfuls, I wasnt 100% sold I have to say – I kind of thought, well it is nice, but it is just cheesy pasta.  By the end, I was sold.  I returned to Tesco the following day and had it two nights running.

In summary, an excellent Canadian offering.  Two downsides – 1.  It is deifnately not filling to have as a meal, more a light snack and 2.  In the UK it cost me £2.50 (to any Canadians that see this, that is over $5 – what do they charge for them over there?).

My mouth is now watering and I wish I had another.  Alas I am back on the diet train in an attempt to fit into clothes that no longer fit, and also saving money for my trip, so much as I have enjoyed my Kraft Dinners, until I get to Canadia, they will have to wait.

Kraft Dinner

Melting down

Starting to think about all the practicalities this evening has added to a building concern.  I don’t think my overall concern is specific, it is just a mixture of anxieties.  

Moving house – I love my little house and have had it for 9 years this year.  I feel worried about leaving it. Although I know I am leaving it in the safe hands of my friend for a year (ish), I feel very over attached.  The biggest upheaval so far is the gradual moving out of my house and this will be done in two weeks.  I am clinging to that last bit of Independence? Normality? Security? before moving home with my parents.  Driving into my road the other day thinking about not seeing my road sign did make me sad.  Would I be a complete loser if I stand a take a photo of it before I go?


Itinerary – I don’t want to go to Canada with a grand itinerary planned, but I think I need to start thinking about where I want to be when.  I have a list of places to go and things to do, shows to attend and exhibits to visit, but need to have a rough plan to make sure I hit the right areas at the right times.  Action point for tomorrow night is to look at this in a bit more detail.

Jobs – this links with the itinerary.  I need to think about getting my CV sorted to take, completing the Smart serve  certification and making contacts in gyms and prisons about potential opportunities.  Which direction do I take and when?  Gym/ fitness job, addictions/ prisons, bar/ restaurant or keep on with lots of HelpXing….. I do potentially want to tick a few of these boxes at different times throughout my year.  I think next weeks job will be to send off some emails and try to start making some links and exploring required qualifications and experience.

Money – I need to keep strong and keep saying no to anything involving spending! People that say it doesn’t need to be expensive to travel are mad!! Just organising renting the house is monumental, let alone insurances, flights and visas.  The overall aim here is Just say No.

Natwest Piggy Banks – saving in style

Something I definitely have enjoyed this evening is looking at different events and shows etc, so when it is less of a night time hour, I may even share a list of my findings.  

Feeling a bit better for getting all this out.  It had to hit me at some point I guess!

IEC UK Quota Release Day

I DID IT!  I am now the proud owner of a WTN (World Tracking Number).  

So, what has happened since I last posted?  The time for the IEC quota for the UK to open was announced as 2pm yesterday.  Yesterday morning, I felt fine though little tired after a restless nights sleep – I had dreamt that I was number 4776 in the quota.  As the morning wore on, the sick feeling got worse and worse.  By 1pm, I was definitely snappish!  My housemate came home and gave me a bag of Daim Mini Eggs before backing away and reaching for a Vodka for herself!  

1.30pm – Dad and I were sat by the laptop.  Carefully positioned with him able to look over my shoulder in a non suffocating fashion.  Passwords, user names, security questions all rehearsed.  Dates and date formats checked and double checked.  Passport number triple checked

1.58pm – Kompass account and IEC pages open, constantly hitting the F5 button to refresh

2.00pm – The site hasnt changed, ARGGHH

2.02pm – It is open.  2,500 places.  I cant find the link to register a new Kompass account.  Where is the link?! I cant find it?  HELP ME!

2.02pm – 2.09pm – Go, go, go!  Filling in the form.  Pre-practised security questions and answers out of the window – I tpyed random words in answer to the questions and Dad wrote them down!  The form randomly asked how many letters are in the word CANADA.  This was a potential game changer.  I froze.  I am not good with numbers.  Dad saved the day – SIX

2.09pm – SUBMIT. Breathe. Wait. YESSSS.  Number 1543. 

2.11pm – Checked the IEC page.  All 2,500 places gone

Housemate, Dad and I spent a significant amount of time just sitting and recovering.

Since then….  I have received a Notice of Submission, sent payment ($150), uploaded a CV and picture of my passport.  Now, I wait.  The hardest part is over! 

Today, I had a lovely Indian Head Massage with Mum.  Much needed after recent stress.  Lovely to just lie and relax without worrying and checking pages for dates and times!

The day of reckoning

Well, the day is nearly here…. we have a date, we have a time.  Tomorrow at 2pm UK time the first batch of UK visas will be released.  The day the date was announced, the stressed feeling turned to a sick with nerves about applying feeling.  Since then, this has turned to a tired and resigned impatience.  I just want tomorrow to be done, one way or the other.

I WANT IT TO BE MAY.  Less than two months to go and wishing my life, in the coming weeks, away….

More tasks are complete – landlord insurance has been ordered, storage unit for my furniture is nearly finished being built, today I purchased some suitcase organiser bag thingys to try and keep some order when I pack/ unpack, the interviews for who gets my job are next week.

There are some questions –

How will I manage without my cats to cuddle at night ?

How will I manage without my pony to cuddle and chat to when I am sad ?

What if I don’t make any friends in Canada ?

What if I don’t get a job ?

How do I manage to eat lots of tasty Canadian food without putting on the 5 stone I have worked so hard to lose ?!

I am starting to have a few more thoughts about the practicalities now it seems more real.  I am still mostly of the thinking that I’ll just rock up in Canada and all will be well, but the questions are definitely starting to worm their way in.  Eeek.  Eeek is the main thought in my head most of the time!

All that is left to say for tonight is, Wish Me Luck…

A spot of pole dancing?

Reflecting on a weekend of food and pole dance.

We all look forward to payday.  I definitely look forward to a food shop that comes hand in hand with payday.  Taking these things happening this weekend into account, there has been a lot of food this week.  Junk food that I mistakenly ordered on purpose with my food shop, a Nandos with my visiting friend from primary school followed by dessert (chocolate fudge brownie sundae) at Frankie and Bennys and then more junk food throughout the weekend.

I have managed to balance the eating with a spot of pole dance.  Saturday night for me involved a sexy pole masterclass.  A chance to put on my heels of questionable taste (plastic platform soled) – I love them!  So much fun dancing and learning moves to link the tricks and make things seem more fluid.  The first time I did a sexy pole class, I felt so awkward, so out of place and mostly stood around wishing I could do what the other girls were doing.  These days, I love it and cant wait to get involved.  There is a lot to be said for the value of forcing myself to overcome the initial anxieties and awkwardness to reach the point I have reached today.  I must remember that despite the joys I have found in sexy pole, Dad has already suggested that pole dancing in Canada is not a suitable money making plan!!  When I told my instructor this, it was lovely of her to say that I would be good to go if I did want to performance dance.  Chufty grin  😀  I am told that the classes in Canada are a lot more sexy pole than our usual classes in Plymouth…. cant wait to see what Toronto has to offer… Should I be afraid?

Sunday:  Armed with aching shoulders and very unhappy leg muscles, Sunday brought to me a master class with the lovely Sarah Scott.  This was my third masterclass with Sarah and as usual it was thoroughly enjoyable and I have some new moves that I cannot wait to try.  If you are reading this as a poler and ever get a chance to attend one of her masterclass, I would say you must grab the opportunity.  They are worth every penny and every time I have come away with something new.  The first time as a spin that will always be referred to as ‘that Sarah Scott spin’, the second class I managed to nail superman and this time it was learning a new version of the Remi.  With the Remi being my absolute favourite pole move, I was delighted to learn a new version – the unhooked Remi.  Didn’t manage to get a very good pic today, but will get one posted when I get a chance.

The weekend has been a welcome break from sitting by a computer waiting for the Visa process to begin.  I will be starting this week with bruises, aches, a sense of achievement and an impatience for the time to pass so I can go to my next pole class.  Oh, and of course a fresh bundle of Visa anxieties just to balance things out!