25 April, 2009

England 2009 - Day 13 Saturday

Well, now we are well and truly up to date. I'm actually managing to write this on the very day!

Some more furniture arrived today! We now have dining room furniture, kitchen utensils and baking trays etc, bins, chairs - it's been like Christmas! My mate's friends arrived at about 8.30am, unloaded, had a quick coffee and shot off. We then spent the rest of the morning trying to make sense of the new mess!

We had considered carrying on painting, but we were both just too tired. Her daughters both came over for a while, and then they went, my mate went to see a friend leaving me all alone.

So, I am sitting in the dining room with my computer and my dongle, listening to Forth 1 (Edinburgh's radio station which I can't get in France!) and it's lovely and quiet. I am really enjoying a little time to myself.

I still haven't heard from sexy trucker, so I now think he's a write off. It's weird because he bothered to phone me last weekend, and the last text I got he still seemed really interested. I'm not quite sure what happened or why he stopped, but I suppose it's just one of those things. It was hardly a relationship, but maybe I thought we might actually meet up at some point but never mind. It's bugging me though!

England 2009 - Day 12 Friday

Another day spent painting! We went out in the morning and had a long walk around the estate - it was nice - it cleared my head a bit. When I got back, another friend of mine phoned - she has to get up early, she has small children! We had a lovely long chat - I'm going to see her on the way back to France. She's taking me to the airport. There's a very long story there, but that's for another time!

We panted the dining room from top to bottom - literally! Ceiling, walls, woodwork - we did the lot! And, in the midst of all this industry, we had to pop out to Tesco (God I love England!!) to get shopping for my mum and dad. Some more furniture was due to arrive, and my box of goodies were being transported back to France. I spent over £50 on general provisions that just aren't available in France, like Heinz Beans, Spaghetti Hoops, Heinz Soup (they don't sell Campbells here any more by the way), Bisto and some interesting little goodies for those who may be interested! I managed to get quite a lot of own brand things because, quite frankly half the time they're just as good. It also left me a bit more money for a couple of little luxury things and a few bits and pieces for Isla. And yes, I did remember her MOST urgent request - for Monster Munch!

We had to nip into Homebase on the way back, and we were painting until about 10pm. We were well and truly knackered. Then it was more or less shower and bed.

England 2009 - Day 11 Thursday

Managed an extra hour in bed on Thursday! Both of us keep waking up really early – I think it’s because there are no shutters. It’s not so bad for me because I’m at the back of the house, but it’s really bad for my mate as she’s at the front with street lights shining into her window! We are so used to the complete darkness of the Gers, and the street lights are a problem!

She had to go out in the morning, so I printed out a lot of CV’s and covering letters, and went on a cold calling mail drop in Cheltenham. I got the bus into town – now I remember why I don’t like public transport!! There are weird people on buses! I want a car here! I went to a few recruitment companies and a few mobile phone shops – I’m thinking long term – I don’t mind retail, as long as there is the prospect of promotion within a company. I had a bit of a wander around, and went into a music store. I asked if they had any vacancies, and the manager told me that they were actually interviewing that evening, and would I like to come along later? Obviously I said yes! I think it went ok – we’ll see. I should know either way by Wednesday.

I met up with my mate’s elder daughter in town and we sat outside and had a drink at a bar in Cheltenham. My mate turned up about an hour later. A water main had burst just up the road, and there was a river running down the pavement in front of the bar! Someone had made a little boat with a mast out of a cigarette packet, and we were all watching it go down the river!

We went out in the evening to a pub. I have been in some interesting pubs in my time – Edinburgh and Dumfries are chock full of dives – and this one was well up to dive standard! We had a laugh anyway!

Fell asleep on the sofa again in the evening – we haven’t stopped for a minute since we got into the country and I’m knackered!

I still haven't heard from sexy trucker. I'm starting to think he just wanted a bit of a text flirtation which surprises me as he seemed to be a genuinely nice bloke. Maybe I'm just rubbish at working out what blokes want - I'm a bit out of practice. Still, I'm a bit disappointed.

England 2009 - Days 9 & 10 Tuesday & Wednesday

Tuesday and Wednesday were spent painting again, so not much of interest to report, except that I haven’t heard from sexy trucker for two days now. Bit weird, but not overly concerned as I knew he was driving through Europe.

My phone rang while I was painting and it was Gloucester Hospital saying that they had a cancellation and I could go in on Wednesday. Bugger! And after I’d changed my flight too. Isn’t that just bloody typical. It gives me a few more days to job search, but it’s still irritating.

The appointment was on the Wednesday, and it went fine – the consultant said I have absolutely nothing to worry about, which was a bit of a relief – not that I was hugely worried, but it’s nice to get confirmation.

Fell asleep on the sofa watching Holby – well, it’s crap and boring anyway isn’t it!

England 2009 - Day 8 Monday

We were up bright and early on Monday morning for the carpet fitter again, who swears he’s the best lay in Cheltenham – it even says so on his van!

I had a doctors appointment in the morning – I have a mole that I wanted to get checked out and couldn’t afford to do it in France. The doctor wasn’t sure about it, so she told me she would try to get me an appointment but it would be sometime within the next two weeks. So I would have to change my flight to ensure that I was still here. Never mind, needs must and all that.

We had some good news from France, which I am not yet at liberty to divulge, but it put us in a great mood, and we went off to collect my mate’s daughter and we went off in the car for a little tour of the Cotswolds. It was a beautifully sunny day, and we went through Winchcombe again, and up into the hills to a little village called Guiting Power, which is all built in Cotswold stone and is stunning.
We had lunch there (I left my CV in the pub!) and then we had to get back to town. My mate had an appointment, so her daughter and I had a little wander down by the river with an ice cream, and spoke to my mum on the phone to tell her that I would have to be changing my flight. They have been out almost every day since I’ve been away! I’m starting to think that no one actually likes me because they have waited until I’m away to invite them!! No, really I know that it’s because of the good weather – people are tentatively coming out of hibernation, like moles!
We then went to sit in the beer garden at Wetherspoons. It was HOT – there were quite a few people in the garden with cold drinks, the cherry blossom was out and it was beautiful. We sat and did out own thing for an hour or so, and then eventually met up with my mate.
The weather has been amazing since I’ve been here – hot, sunny and no rain! I’ve been so lucky! And I love Gloucestershire. The job hunting is stepping up a notch because I really want to stay here – I don’t want to live back in France. I have never lived in England – not since I was three and a half – but I love it! Not as much as I love Scotland obviously, but it is slightly warmer here!
In the evening I managed to change my flight - at an extra cost of 22 quid I might add - so I now leave on the 7th.

Have had constant texts to and from sexy trucker – had to top up today!

England 2009 - Day 7 Sunday

Sunday was an extremely busy day, and not much of note happened!

We spent the day undercoating the banisters and skirting boards in the hall stairs and landing before the carpet fitter arrived on Monday morning to put the carpet down in there. After the undercoating we did two coats of Farrow & Ball paint.
Joocey came over in the afternoon, had dinner with us and stayed the night.

England 2009 - Day 6 Saturday

We didn’t get a much needed lie in on the Saturday morning, as the carpet fitter arrived. My mate had to go out and get the car MOT’d, and then I went out for the day with my mum’s cousin and her husband.

We had a lovely day. We had a little explore of Tewkesbury, Cheltenham and a walk around Sudely Castle in Winchcombe. The area is just gorgeous – I could definitely live here!
We had lunch in Tewkesbury in Wetherspoons and I had the steak and ale pie that I had been craving since we arrived! We had our drive around after lunch, and met Joocey in Cheltenham in the afternoon and had tea and scones! Well, I had a sticky bun which I think was a recycled hot cross bun, but it was yummy!

The sexy trucker phoned while I was still out and in the car, so I asked him to phone back in about an hour and he did! We had a nice chat! He seems like a nice bloke.

By the time I got back to the house, my mate and her daughter had put the beds together, so we were no longer sleeping on the floor! The new carpets looked fantastic!

We ended the day by watching Sex & The City – perfect!

23 April, 2009

England 2009 - Day 5 Friday

On Friday, I went into Cheltenham to meet Joocey and do some clothes shopping. I particularly wanted to do this on my own as I needed new bras and I knew I’d be spending time trying loads on as I haven’t had new ones for ages and wasn’t sure of my size. It was boring, but I managed to sort it out by the time I met Joocey. I also got Isla a new pair of jeans and a cool, sparkly Hello Kitty t-shirt, and I got me a couple of new tops – one purple and one turquoise – both bright! Joocey bought two dresses – one bright turquoise and one a darker blue.

Oh, I tried a pretzel! A proper, big, doughy pretzel – and it was gorgeous!! Rolled in garlic – mmmmmmmm!

We got the bus back to the house, only we missed the one we were meant to get, so got the next one. We got off and had to walk a little way, and I knew of a short cut that my mate had told me about, so we tried to take it. Bad mistake – seriously bad mistake! We got so lost! We walked around and around in circles, until I eventually gave in and phoned my mate and
She came out to find us! We were actually right near the house by the time we caught up with each other, but we were knackered! Joocey and I, no matter where we are or what country we are in, always manage to have a little adventure, and this was obviously it!

We had dinner and showers and went out into Cheltenham for the evening. We went to my mate’s regular haunt, and she caught up with loads of people. Joocey and I got talking to some random people outside as I was having a cigarette, and the three of us chatted to them for a while, until their complete wanker mate decided it would be a great plan to pull his trousers down. On that note, they gave in to him and went to a different bar. We sat and chatted to a couple of Italian guys all evening who were a good laugh.

I drove back to the house in my mate’s car – first time I’ve driven in England for four years in a car that I haven’t driven very often, with three back seat drivers trying to give me directions. I tuned out two of them eventually, and listened to only one – the other one who hadn’t been drinking!

England 2009 - Day 4 Thursday

On Thursday we went into Cheltenham for interviews. We both had two recruitment interviews, which seemed to be very encouraging, but I haven’t heard a word since, so I’m not counting my chickens!

One of the first things I did was to get a sim card sorted out for my phone, so that I could give potential employers a UK number. I hate being out of contact. We also spent ages trying to get online in town. We went to Starbucks, because they have Wifi. The only problem is that you have to pay £5 for the privilege of using it – and that’s on top of their extortionate drinks. And they don’t even have diet coke! We tried MacDonald’s next, only my laptop wouldn’t connect to it, and my mate’s laptop’s battery died! So, we decided to be proactive, and went into Phones 4 U to organise a reasonably priced alternative. We got a dongle! We went halfers on it as it will be useful for her now, and a couple of months down the line it will hopefully be useful to me. So, we have a dongle now – a shared dongle – and we’re very proud! The internet coverage is not bad, but it’s pretty crap for Skype. But…you can’t have everything.

We met Joocey in MacDonald’s, and I did a little bit of shopping with her. I managed to get the shampoo I wanted in Poundland – a pound a bottle!! I got three bottles of shampoo and three of conditioner for only slightly more than it would have cost me to buy one bottle of each in the supermarket. I also got some toastie bags – now they are the work of the gods! Make a cheese sandwich, pop it in the bag, pop the bag in the toaster and hey presto – a cheese toastie! They truly are fabulous!!

We took Joocey back to her Granny’s, and met her. She said that she remembers meeting me when we were at school, but I don’t remember at all! She has a better memory than I do!

England 2009 - Day 3 Wednesday

On the Wednesday morning, we had to get up early and take the dog for a walk at the castle. It was a lovely morning – not very sunny, but bright enough and fresh. We had a lovely wander around, until my mate phoned Numpty to arrange to meet him. The plan was that we were to meet him at 9am somewhere in Portsmouth. But he had got off the ferry at just gone 6am and decided to head on up the road and meet us there. We knew that the earliest we could get there was midday, and we had to pick up the keys! Once again, he had managed to screw up. He was meant to follow us there.

So, we said goodbye and thank you to Grandma and leapt in the car and whizzed up the road to Cheltenham. We were talking and stressed and missed the turning off the motorway, and ended up going as far as Oxford before we could turn. Looking at it objectively, it was the only mistake we made in the entire journey north, but at the time it was just another added stress! We picked up the keys, and headed to the house, to find him outside, sitting in his van sleeping!

Another friend, Joocey, had come down to Cheltenham, partly to see me, but mainly because it was her Gran’s birthday. She got the bus to the house, and between all of us we unloaded the van in record time. The amount of damage found that day and since was incredible. The guy is no more a professional removal man than I am. I have seen excellent removal men doing their job, and this wasn’t it.

He buggered off up north to another job, and we got stuck in to getting the house straight with what furniture we had. We decided to get the beds made up, just on mattresses in the bedrooms, to discover that one mattress was torn and most of the bedding was not included in the packing. Typical. We managed to put together enough stuff to make up two beds, with various throws etc. We got the kitchen and sitting room sorted, with the TV and Sky etc all set up.

We went to the chippy for lunch – I had a Pukka Pie (Beef & Onion) with chips and it was heavenly!!

During the afternoon, the new owner of the dog turned up. My mate has decided that she can’t actually keep her animals here. She managed to re-home one of the dogs and the cat in France, and the other dog in England. The plan is that she will have a full time job, and to keep in three animals all day, when they have been used to complete freedom most of their lives, would just be unfair. The lady turned up with a massive bunch of gorgeous flowers for her, and I think the dog will be very happy with her.

We took Joocey back to Cheltenham, did some food shopping, and went out to a friend of my mate’s for dinner, which was lovely. It meant that we didn’t have to think about food, and was done so beautifully –a lot of effort had gone into it.

21 April, 2009

England 2009 - Day 2 Tuesday

The next day we were up at 4am. I had made sandwiches for us, so we packed up our food and got it into the car. We were away from our house by 5am. By the time we reached Bordeaux it was daylight. We had a great run north, not following the directions that Numpty had insisted on giving me the day before. His plan, which was quite obviously the best one, according to him, was to go up the Route Nationale, through all the little towns and villages. Out plan was the péage – good roads, especially with a heavily laden car, and fast. Guess who took the better option!

The day went almost without a hitch - probably because Numpty was not involved in any way! We reached Le Havre over an hour before we had to get on the ferry. When we had to show our passports there was a problem with the dog passport, so we were sent to another person, who sorted out the small misunderstanding. He was a very cute person, I might add!

We managed to get the car on the ferry, very carefully, only grounding a couple of times. We were on the deck when we set sail, talking to a lady who was out there having a cigarette. We stayed there for about half an hour chatting, and then went in. I think we were looking for the shop or something and chatting about where we could find it, when a voice answered us. It was a Scottish voice, so I asked him where he was from. It turned out he was from my hometown in Scotland. We ended up chatting to him all evening – he was really nice! He’s a long distance lorry driver, so always back and forth on the continent, and we ended up all having a really good laugh and it also meant I had someone to join me in fag breaks outside on the deck. It’s the most enjoyable ferry crossing I think I’ve ever had! He and I went up to the top deck as we were entering Portsmouth Harbour. Anyway, we swapped numbers and have been texting since!

Getting off the ferry was a little less complicated than going on, as no one was interested in the slightest in seeing the dog passport. What’s the point of having them, if they’re not checked? We went straight to Portchester Castle so the poor dog could have a bit of a run, and then went to Grandma’s for the night. I do wish she would use her radiators as I was freezing all night! It was lovely to see her, but a very short, flying visit.

England 2009 - Day 1 Monday

Well…I’ve been in England for less than a week and I can’t believe how much we’ve fitted into that timescale!

As you know, I’m here with my friend who has moved back for good from France. All her belongings were packed up on Monday – there’s a story in that alone! Obviously, as anyone would expect, we all expected a big lorry in order to moves someone’s entire life to a different country. But oh no, the bloke (who shall henceforth be referred to as Numpty) turned up in a transit van with a trailer. There was no choice but to use him, as it was far too short notice to involve anyone else. At one glance, we could all see that he wouldn’t be able to fit everything in, but he assured us (at least for the first hour) that it was possible. After that, he kept saying ‘We need to prioritise’ with a glottal stop and an Essex accent, which is actually quite hard to say! He managed to get the two sofas into the trailer, with nothing packed between them so there was a big empty space there. He kept asking for bags to fill gaps, but everything had been very efficiently packed in boxes. The next thing was “We can only fit in what we can fit in”, “We can only prioritise what we can prioritise”, “We can only do what we can do” – God that man was an idiot. Eventually, with the help of two other blokes the van and trailer were packed full. Without those two though, we would not have got half the stuff in the van that we managed to. The only problem was that there was the same amount again left in the house, which had to be removed in order for people to move in. My mate whizzed up the road and enlisted two French friends, who really came through for her. They arrived in another transit type van, much bigger than the original one, and managed to get all the rest of her stuff into it to transport it to another location for storage until Numpty was able to make a second trip.

The only problem was that after all his guff about prioritising, very little of the priority items had been packed. We had to pack the car with the entire contents of the kitchen, cases of wine (to be dropped off elsewhere on the journey), clothes for us to wear, food for the journey, the printer (for job applications and CV’s) and a dog. This is all in a normal estate car. The car was sitting at an angle, and on the small country roads in grounded on every bump. As soon as the house had been packed up, my mate had to rush off to the airport and I took her car back to our house as she was spending her last night with us. She had taken our non-loaded car to the airport!

When I got home, I discovered that my iPod didn’t work. Now, if you know me you will know that this would, indeed, be a tragedy of high proportions! Well, I panicked. Nothing I did seemed to work. I did the whole reset thing – pressing menu and select together and nothing happened. I just thought it was a shitty end to a shitty day. Luckily another friend phoned to wish us Bon Voyage, and he told me to reset it but to hold the buttons down until the screen changed. I did, and it worked! What a relief!

17 April, 2009

Back In Blighty!

This is just a short post until I get more than five minutes to sit down and properly compose one! There's been a lot going on!

England is cold and rainy, but the weekend looks like it's going to be nice, so the camera will come out of hibernation! I am so enjoying the food - on the first day we went to the chippy and I got a beef and onion pie and chips and it was gorgeous!!

Had a couple of interviews so far - things are looking encouraging. Mobile phone is sorted, we bought a dongle for the internet, and I'm about to go shopping!

So, I will be back on in a couple of days.

08 April, 2009

Bad Blogger!

Smack hands - I've been rubbish at blogging over the last week or so. Sorry!

Life's been a bit busy. I'm dogsitting at the moment, and Isla and I have been having a lovely time just the two of us. She's just got into Lost - I know, you're thinking "is that really suitable for a nine year old?" Well...yes, it is. It's certainly not unsuitable. There's no sex, no bad language, moderate violence and all kids love things that have them on the edge of their seats! It shows the terrible effects of drugs (on Charlie) and had quite a few lessons in there that are relevant to kids. She's loving the show, and is up to episode 10 of the first series, so there's quite a way to go yet!

As for me, I've just rediscovered Party of Five, which I loved when it was on TV years ago, but never actually got to see much of it. It's has Matthew Fox in it (he's in Lost too) and it's great!

I've had a bit of painting too this week, and a house to get ready. The only problem was that we had some kind of communication breakdown about when the people were coming down. I suddenly thought yesterday that they were coming down this week, so my mum phoned them, then tried the mobile, and it turned out that they were only ten minutes away from the house!! So, she told them to go out for lunch and get some shopping, and we raced down there and got the ouse ready in record time! It helped that they only wanted a brief clean and beds made, but we worked damned hard!

It was also a friend's birthday last week, so about 30 people went out for dinner in our local village. We were all asked to bring our favourite desserts, so I made a couple of pavlovas which were fab! It was only my second time making them, but they turned out really well. I also made some cakes for another friend, who didn't have time to get them done. I iced them in pink, and put glacé cherries on top and they were called Nipple Cakes! They went down really well! We had a great night - the food was good, the company was good and a great birthday was had.

On Saturday we are having a party at home - we're doing a curry lunch. It's the leaving party of another friend - the one who's going back to UK. She's leaving the weekend after Easter, and I'm travelling back with her to help with the move, help her get settled in her house, and hopefully find a job. That's both of us hopefully find a job. Fingers crossed!

I'm trying to come up with bright ideas about a leaving present for her, but stuggling a little. We found something today, but it's only a joke gift. I have an idea, which I'm trying to organise as I'm typing, but I don't know if it's going to work or not.

Anyway, I probably won't be on here for a couple of days, but I will try to write something before life gets hectic with last minute packing etc next week!