Driving on Dartmoor

With 10 sleeps to go until flight day, 8 sleeps to go until I leave Plymouth and 2 days left at work, this week I have been really appreciating Dartmoor.  One of the things I have always loved about my job is working on the moors – the drive to and from work every day usually helps with waking up in a bad mood or soothes a bad day at work.  Who doesnt smile when you get to driv eto work accross the open road looking at ponies and foals, cows, sheep and lambs.  I realise that the spring time does put everyone in a particularly good mood with the babies on the moors – but when sheep are the road ‘traffic’, things cant be that bad in life!

Today I stopped to take some photos of the journey, and of a new sign I encountered – apparently there are hedgehogs out and about… I have not yet encountered any, but rest assured if I spot one, there will be an impromptu photo shoot to share.

  

       

  

My first Air B&B booking

For the past few months since deciding to go to Canada, I have known that that, obviously, I will be needing some sort of accomodation.  I have therefore been keeping an eye on Air B&B listings alongside other other rental websites and HelpX for accommodation/ farm work.  I have arranged my first HelpX placement for my first three weeks, but then need to start looking at what I do next.  Do I work? sight see? another HelpX?  I thought I might book a week or so in Toronto for a tourist week where I can cross some of my bigger ventures of my list.  I thought Air B&B a good place to book as cheaper than hotels, dont have to share a room like in a hostel and its a little safer I think than a random room from gumtree type sites when Im in a place I dont know.

I spend some time looking through all my shortlisted listings and eventually composed the perfect message to send to a host to see about making a booking.  The price was £30 a night – a little steep, but I think for a tourist week, it is nice to have a room with an ensuite and I feel more confident paying to get a place that looks a bit nicer until I know more about areas etc.  Anyway, for four nights at £30 a night, the total cost was £174!!! Something I didnt realise was that in addition to the £5 cleaning fee (I saw this on the listing), there is also a 3% currency conversion fee and a £23 service fee.  The host also pays a £23 fee.  This is extortionate!!  That is a service fee of over £5 a night to make the booking.  I love the idea of Air B&B, but am really disappointed by this and it has made me a little wary.  

Having discovered the above, I am not one to be put off that easily, I am pleased to say I have now managed to make a booking with a cheaper listing.  Still managed to get a nice looking place (it even has a gym in the building!), but it is a little further out.  The girl seems lovely and I cant wait to go there.  I have a week booked for £154.  It looks so nice, I contemplated booking a second week, but didnt want to pay out more money in service fees when I can spend it on exciting and fun things in Canada!  Hopefully by then I will feel more confident with the local area and will need to assess if I can afford to book more Air B&B accomodation or if I book through a site with a more reasonable fee structure.

With regards to the ease of booking and use of the website, other than not making viewers aware of this massive price increase earlier int he process, I found it a really user friendly site that definitely fills a gap in the market.

Brighton for the weekend

Another lovely weekend away to write about.  This time it was Brighton to see my sibling run the Brighton Marathon.  Her first one!  Very exciting.

We started off with a junk food filled road trip, me and dad and lots of Canada chat!  He either genuinely doesn’t get bored of Canada talk or is a fantastic actor! Made it to Hove and reunited with the sibling and her boyfriend for the night and a tasty Thai meal at The Green Mango.  I had an amazing Thai Red Curry and Coconut Rice with a Chicken Satay starter.  So tasty and a good size portion.  Unfortunately, no room for dessert, so full I just needed to get my pjs on – my new jeans are a slightly optimistic size 12 and are currently referred to as my spray ons!  Note to self: go to the gym!  

Saturday was a lovely day and I started the day meeting up with a guy I have been speaking to through one of the Canada IEC groups on Facebook who conveniently lives in Hove.  A little nervous, but no need to be, it went really well and it was so nice to meet someone else who is moving to Canada.  Chatted the whole time like old friends – this definately makes me feel happier knowing there is someone in Canada I know and can meet up with.  In Canada terms the 5 or 6 hour drive between where we are going is nothing.  We had our meet up in a lovely little tea shop I have been to a few times now – Treacle & Co.  Delicious cakes and a lovely atmosphere.  This time I had a large piece of chocolate cake, chocolate brownie for siblings boyfriend, carrot cake for Dad and a giant meringue for the sibling.

  

A walk along the sea front followed.  We walked all along to Millionnaires row.  I am informed that the private beach is attached to the houses of David Walliams, Adele and Zoe Ball.  No celebrities spotted, but a lovely walk in the sunshine.  We also saw a random truck with a caravan attached to the front.  Very strange but a good photo op!

  

Saturday afternoon I went off to visit a Pole Dancing clothing shop called Pole Emporium.  A start up shop mostly run online from the ladies house.  We don’t have anywhere near Plymouth to buy any nice proper pole clothes and I don’t want to buy without trying as it’s often so skimpy.  Anyway, it was perfect as I was able to try lots of things on and settled on a grey and black Wink top.  Bottoms was rather skimpy so I got matching Bad Kitty Pole Fit competition shorts.  I would definitely recommend the Pole Emporium if you are looking for some new gear.  My only concern is that I ate so much on Sunday, I may need to wait until next week and a few more gym sessions to wear it!!

Saturday night was dinner at Otello in Hove.  Spectacular food again.  I had pasta.  Mum joined us after dinner and we stayed at The Thistle on the seafront.  Unfortunately not much time to use the facilities, nice breakfast and no complaints though!

Sunday: Marathon day.  Lots of walking around and managed to see the sibling at 6 and 12 miles.  Looked over the barrier the other way and saw the winner come in which was good to see.  Sibling looked fine and dandy at 12 miles as if she had only just begun.  A mooch around the shops followed by chips and finding a position at the finish line.  Sibling looking a little less chipper 50 metres from the finish I have to say, but she had done 26 miles in fairness!! She finished at 5hrs10.   Fantastic day out and so proud!  Aching legs from walking around (didn’t dare make this complaint know to sibling!) earned me a McDonalds and a long drive with the parents home to my bed.  

  

IEC Jargon

It occurred to me that all of us IEC visa hunters have formed a unique group of people that no others can fully understand. Not only the stress, anxiety, excitement, unending researching, frustration and emotional rollercoasters, but the jargon.  People ask me often how the process is going and what I have left to do and I find myself wanting to say that I was sucessful in gettig a WTN, paid and got NOR and my CAL last week, so I am just waiting for my POE and then I need to think about ESTA and a SIN number.  I think that at the end we should all get temp jobs in an IEC call centre to help support the next batch of hopefuls, until they too become jargon using IEC obsessives!

I love how interested everyone is and its great they are keen to follow the process with me, though I did find myself trotting out the same explantory robot speech for the leyman. No doubt those around us are hoping for a day when they can talk to us and make idle chit chat and gossip over tea and cake without our brains being clouded by the desire for a POE! Should I tell them that when that day comes, the POE space will be filled with IM GOING TO CANADA !?