Archive for August, 2011

Blimey! What a week it’s been.   As I write I am sitting at Sweetie Pies in Twickenham.

I only had one cupcake 🙂

Having just enjoyed a pot of tea and a yummy chocolate cupcake I thought I would kill time while waiting for CJ to finish work by writing my next blog.  As mentioned before I am staying at a friends flat while she is away in South Africa, which is great, except she has a flat-mate who is, if not from hell, then certainly close enough to!!! geez, it never ceases to amaze me that people feel they can be rude with no reason.  Ok, so it is her flat but seriously is that a reason to be so rude and speak to me like I crawled out the trash?  I have been hard-pressed to keep my mouth shut and not retaliate coz I know there is no point in that and achieves nothing. It would be no fun if I did retaliate and she decided to kick me out….so needs must and I keep my mouth shut.  I leave tomorrow anyhow so thankfully I won’t be seeing her again.  She also works during the day so peace reigns supreme till 7pm…at which stage I make myself scarce and head to the bedroom.

On the job front I have had some small measure of success and applied for a position that looks great and something I could really get my teeth into!  I submitted my CV yesterday and today they called me to come in for an interview asap! Hooray. I would love to get this job as it plays to all my strengths and involves a certain amount of Social Media expertise as well…. which is brilliant!  The salary is ok, and it will also mean that I have my weekends free to persue my own interests and then I can start planning my itineraries and start advertising them.  I do have to know my schedule and with the care work, it is just not possible to plan anything in advance coz I never know where I am gonna be.  Have to keep my time free and clear in case a job comes in.

On that front, I leave tomorrow for Kent.  I am quite excited about this job as the lady sounds really nice and of course there is the village to explore. 🙂  I have been doing some research and it seems that the area has some tenuous links to the Pilgrims Way and that is definitely worth exploring.  As well as which there are some woods nearby that definitely need to be explored.
I have been playing catchup on my twitter accounts and it’s really cool to be back online.  I’m not sure if I mentioned previously, but I joined a photography page on facebook and they have a different theme everday. This has been great fun and a real challenge to see if I can find a photo that matches the relevant theme.  This has also given me loads of ideas for future photos.  Through the page I have also discovered two websites where I can upload my photos for sale.  I am of course really not sure if they will be of the right quality, but hey, if you don’t try……you don’t succeed.

I have also registered on a really lovely site called ‘women like us’ that caters for women who want to get back into the work environment.  Not that I have been without work, but I really do want to get back into the office environment asap.

Okay, so just had a phone call…bad news on tomorrow’s job. The lady just called to say she has to cancel the job as she is not going home for a while.   Urgh!!!! this is exactly why I simply cannot do this anymore.  I have to get a settled job.  This is now very inconvenient and that means I dont get a salary for the next 10 days! They just have no idea.  Urgh, it also means that I don’t get to explore the village! 😦 ah well. I will have to go there with my campervan when I get the contract from the BBC to do a programme on the UK villages of the Domesday Book! 🙂 🙂 and that of course is a message to the universe that is taking it’s own sweet time on this.
Anyhow that is my stressed gripe out the way……moving on.

I guess now I can carry on with my internet stuff and also get to go and sort out my storage stuff in preparation for moving next week.  I dicovered that it’s way cheaper to store stuff out of London than in. No suprise really but I just never thought to check that out. Needs must hey!
We are still awaiting my niece’s arrival and I keep checking my brother’s profile to see if there is any announcement…but nothing so far. Eeee….can’t wait to meet the new baba.

While I was waiting for CJ to finish work I took a stroll down to the river…..whoa!!! high tide, and I mean HIGH tide. The river was way up the road and cars were again under water.  The folks on Eel Pie Island were waiting patiently for the water to receed so they could get off the bridge.  The swans were swimming along the promenade and the ducks took a stroll along the sidewalk through the water.   It looks so awesome.  I found out the other day that the river level rises up to 7 feet twice a day.  The Thames is of course a tidal river so this is a phenomenon that can be seen every day.  Some days it rises so high that motorists who have parked in the bays along the river front sometimes have their cars covered in water up to and over the chassis. Eeewww!!!

tides in....you can see the people on the bridge waiting to get off and the car on the right where the water is receeding

So after work my daughter took me for dinner at her favourite restaurant in Twickenham; Pincho. Love their food. We had aubergine bake, hallumi, houmous, pattas bravas. Hmmm. Yummy.  Then a brisk walk back to her place, and here I am. Still stressing big time about the sudden job cancellation and the lack of income that goes with that….but I have high hopes for the job interview tomorrow.  I would really love to get this position….the job description sounds fab! 🙂 Hold thumbs.

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hmmm, and the eternal question is: where does it go?  I have been back in London for just on 10 days and the days have whizzed by. I have moved on to North London and am staying at my friends place whilst she is in South Africa….great timing really. The days in Twickenham were great fun and CJ and I had some really special times together, either watching TV, working, chatting, strolling along the riverbank, eating out, munching our way through cupcakes, taking photos and having lonnnngggg conversations about the meaning of life.

view of the Thames at Richmond

the conclusion I have recently come to is that we really have to enjoy the moment. enjoy and appreciate where we are as much as is possible.  We are urged time and again to reach for goals and although that is good, so much of life is missed out because we are focussing on the future instead of the now.  I really slowed down the few days I had with my daughter and instead of stressing about work or money or getting blogs up or posting on twitter, I just enjoyed whatever time we had together.  I don’t get to see that much of her even when I am in London so those few days were really precious.  I even managed to surprise her on Sunday night with a mini-birthday party, which was great fun and she didn’t suspect a thing despite me never being able to keep a secret.

a surprise birthday party

we didn’t get to do the tour after all.  We woke late and I felt really ill (turns out I had food poisoning from the meal the night before), so we decided to just relax and chat and spend the day together, and it turned out just super.

The last few days have been spent updating records and sorting my photo albums.  I have joined a group on facebook that has a different theme every day and it has been a fun challenge to see if any of my photos are suitable.  Some of them have been well liked which is brilliant.  I really do love taking photos and think I will drive everyone nuts when I have a more sophisticated camera.  I already have over 22,000 photos!!! Hysterical.  Of course not all of them are good enough for publication, but most of them remind me of places I have been and things I have seen, and that is awesome.

a storm's brewing

we had a brilliant thunder storm yesterday with the accompanying lightening and a massive downpour which was pretty awesome.  My sweet sister-in-law is in labour and within the next day or so I will be an aunty again!!! yay! It’s a little girl and I am really looking forward to welcoming her.  They recently adopted two kiddies; a boy of 7 and a girl of 6 years old, so with the new baby on the way they are going to have their hands full.   They live in Hungary so sadly I don’t get to see them much, but I am hoping to make a trip there sometime later this year.

On the job front I have found absolutely nothing that excites me!!!! urgh. I loath doing job searches and this is no different.  So I am using the care work as a fall back till I find something that will be of interest.  Initially I was really annoyed with myself for using this as a fall back, but I have now made my peace with it. Instead of resenting this I have instead resolved to enjoy the fact that I can now visit some more villages or towns of the UK and add to my now very long list which is approaching 100!!! Way cool.   I am thinking of making a book about the villages as this will fit in with my dream of travelling around the UK in my campervan and blogging about the places I go (as mentioned in an earlier blog).

As I write I am watching the news of hurricane Irene in America and it looks frightening.  I can’t even begin to imagine such big storms.  We had awesome storms in South Africa but nothing like whats going on there.

So back to the web for more job searches.  How awesome it would be if I could just magic up a number of clients who need my credit control services and I could do what I really enjoy…..sorting, organising and fixing. 🙂

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(Ok, so this blog is a week overdue. I wrote it on 18th!!) I am back….haven’t absconded to India just yet 🙂

I am back in London after a lovely week in Halstead/Kent with a really lovely lady.  One of the nicest placements I have had in all the years I have worked as a Carer.  However, as I mentioned earlier, spending time with her has really given me a serious kick on my metaphorical butt!!!! I must, and that is a MUST get to travel again.  There are so many places she wanted to see and visit but coz of this debilitating disease (motor neuron disease) she is, at the same age as me, confined to a wheelchair.  She does go out of course but only to places that are close to home.  I can’t imagine how hard it must be to have been an active and busy person to suddenly be diagnosed with a debilitating disease.  I know people do cope and adjust, but I am quite healthly and able and I really do want to see so many places and of course as you probably already know….I want to travel round the UK and hopefully Europe with my campervan 🙂

my daughter sent this to me...it's now my desktop pic!! love it, makes me smile eveytime I log on

I had a lovely week and got to visit a delightful little village; Chipstead.  So adorable with the cutest little houses and cottages.  A bubbling stream winds through the village and in front of some of the houses.

Victorian cottages in Chipstead

I was thrilled to find a wee bridge that crossed the stream which meandered past a ‘Mill House’….these villages are just heavenly.  I also found some terrific cottages, more modern than the one dated 1694!!!

built 1694

that I want to investigate  (when!!!!! I have internet access again).   I got my dongle on Tuesday, only to discover that they had sent me the wrong one.  I have a contract and they sent me a pay as you go!!! Seriously I am so fed up with them now that I could not even phone them when I discovered their mistake……I was unsure I could hold my temper.  So I have packed it away and will tackle this issue tomorrow or Saturday.  So annoying.  Ah well.  Perhaps the Universe is trying to teach me some patience 🙂 – as of today 26.08 I have been back online for 6 days and playing catch up.

Right now (18:44) is am sitting at Costa, where it’s warm and cosy, I have just finished some spreadsheet work for my friend (I do love spreadsheets) and am now writing this blog in preparation for when I get online!  When I arrived back in London this afternoon the rain came down in buckets and I got soaked!!! my trainers are wet and cold and it feels ucky!! I still have a few hours before I get home and be able to change.   When I arrived I have a delicious hot choclate with trimmings (cream & marshmallows) and an almond croissant…..yummy.  I think I deserved that after getting soaked and after my long journey.  I am meeting up with a friend for dinner later on which will be fun.

So home for the next few days is after all going to be with my daughter.   Her housemate had a bit of a hissy fit last week and threatened all sorts of dire things and said she is not at all happy with another person staying at the house…..never mind that she has had people staying over a number of times, once for a month!!! geez…how to feel welcome hey.  This homeless business is not fun!

Tomorrow I am going to take her on a tour of the ‘old’ City of London, from the Tower of London to St Paul’s cathedral where I am going to take her right up to the Golden Gallery, then from there we will visit The Old Bailey, and St Bride’s Church, then past the Olde Cheshire Cheese to Samuel Johnson’s house, back to Fleet Street and thence to The Royal Courts of Justice on Strand.  We will meander the streets and visit ancient places and commune with ghosts along the way!!! this is the 3rd and final itinerary of the 3 Days in London itineraries and hopefully once we have done this one I can finally get them into a decent format and uploaded online.

The weekend promises to be quiet, my daughter is off to Rochester with a friend, so I plan to knuckle down and get some blogs online. Haven’t been able to do any for weeks now.  My poor hootsuite account needs attention too….that has also suffered since my internet access has been so disrupted. Eish!!!

On the work front…..of course I have not been able to get onto google…which has been a real nuisance, but hopefully this weekend I can.  I do have another short placement shortly but I hope the agency can find me another before too long.  Other than that I shall continue to look.

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So this morning I awoke to a full-blown panic attack!!! well actually, since I hardly slept last night I guess I didn’t wake to the panic attack, I just simply had one! Urgh! It’s the most horrible feeling. And coz I am working, and in someone else’s house I can’t even have a good old scream to release the tension. So squish the feelings and hold them at bay!

Yesterday was a very long day.  Sometimes I not sure which is worse…..working from 8am-11pm and being stuck indoors all day with not much to do and earning a wage, or being outdoors walking and exploring at my own will and not earning a wage!  Which is best? 🙂 hmmm. I think I should just abscond to India and become one of those mad english women who shuffle along barefoot, dressed in long white robes, their hair askew, unwashed, a begging bowl in hand and muttering all the way!!!  or perhaps I can install myself in a monastry high in the hills and go meditate and levitate!

On the plus side, the lady I am caring for at the moment gave me a set of books on London, she was going to discard. 4 small little paperbacks that tell the story of 4 different era’s in London’s history!  Whoohoo!! so fascinating. There should have been 8 books, but she is not sure where the others are. But hey, I am more than happy with the 4, already found some things I want to follow up on when I get back to London.  She is lovely, and is the type of person that I love about this kind of work.  Gentle and sweet, not condescending and hoity-toity.  It has been a pleasure to be here and if it was not for the fact that I know this is a rarity, I would quite happily do more of this.

Talking of which…..on the job front, I chucked in some random tags words into google yesterday and it spat out some really cool looking stuff. Will have to be a little more targeted and I may just find something right up my alley.  Of course I have to remind myself that what I really want to be doing will pull me in two directions!  My love is London; to walk around exploring, taking photos, blogging about it and (somehow) getting paid to do so. My desire is to drive around the UK in a campervan, visiting little villages and out of the way beauty spots, exploring, taking photos, blogging about it and (somehow) getting paid to do so! Hahahaha. A metaphorical fork in the road of my destiny!  Which way do you think I should go?

During my break today I headed off to visit the village church. There has been a church in halstead for over 1,000 years and unusually for one of these little villages, this church its situated right on the outskirts.  On my way there I visited the ancient site of a tiny medieval church built on Saxon foundations, now tumbled down and overgrown with ivy and weeds, the remaining headstones, some of which date back to the late 1700’s line the wall which is about 2 feet thick.  The site is English heritage and considered to be of significant interest….I’d agree.  It’s set back in a forested area, quiet and peaceful as most of these places are – the only sounds; birdsong and the crunch of breaking wood underfoot.

the medieval church

From there I continued my meandering and discovered the ‘New’ Church. Built in the late 1870’s, in the style of the 13th century, a delightful little building with a bell tower much too tall for it’s size.  I was in luck……a service was just finishing as I arrived so I waited patiently in the churchyard, studying the headstones and sitting quietly under a shady tree till they left the building.  I then slipped in quietly for a look round.  Beautiful.  These country churches are something to see. Filled to the brim with memorials and mementoes of parishioners gone by, amazing stained glass windows of intricate glasswork shaped into pictures, some too beautiful to imagine.  In some instances the history goes back hundreds of years and many are built on the remains of ancient medieval, Saxon or Tudor sites.

the 'new' church

It’s been a beautiful day and I am delighted to have discovered another marvellous little village.

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I have been very fortunate to have travelled quite extensively around the UK and visited many of her fair counties.   Most people would say that Kent is the most beautiful, and it known as The Garden County’.  I have to agree that it is exceptionally beautiful.  However, I would have to say that I am quite unable to say which is exactly ‘the most beautiful’ when a visit to Suffolk enchants and delights, a visit to Somerset leaves you gasping at the joy of the fields and villages, Devon leaves you breathless with her fabulous cliffs and seascapes and Cornwall is a delight of hidden coves, beaches, and quaint fishermen’s hamlets.  A trip to Scotland will leave your mouth agape at the splendour: craggy towering mountains, deep blue bottomless lakes that stretch as far as the eye can see, purple heather that rolls over windswept hills, thundering waterfalls that rush downstream, and weather that thrills you to the core with its violence and thunder.  Wales is a magical mix of green and blue, bubbling streams, ancient streets in tiny hamlets.  So in all I have to say that pretty much ALL of the UK is fabulous.

Presently I am residing in a little village in Kent.  I arrived at a 2 platform station set amongst the wild green growth of summer in full bloom, and marvelled that the train didn’t just whizz by and miss the station if the driver blinked his eyes.  Tiny little place with the quirky name of Knockholt!  The area is gorgeous, winding roads that twist and turn between the towering hedgerows I mentioned before, with just a glimpse of fields behind at the gaps and gates.  The villages perch precariously close to the roads, with just a small patch of garden between the house and tarmac.  But what gardens they are!  A glorious abundance of delicate english flowers, thorny blackberry bushes, now just starting to bear fruit that ripens into plump black berries that tease the tastebuds.

picturesque houses

As with most villages in the counties, old houses many of which date back to the 1800’s and earlier line the main road.  You usually find a church that has a history going back to the middle ages and farther; into the mists of time.  Farmers fields abound, cows at the gate testimony to the time.  A post office and a viallge store the sum total of commercialism and now and then a B&B or a little gift shop that doubles as a tearoom….where more often than not you can partake of a delicious, freshly baked scone with home-made jams and cream so think you can almost cut it with a knife.

Yesterday was fresh and lovely, so during my break I went walkabout.  The roads are narrow and there is precious little space for pedestrians but coz it’s so quiet, you can hear cars coming well before they reach you.  There is always a gap in the hedge for safety. 🙂  As mentioned above, the houses that line the main road are quaint and tiny, with quirky names and gorgeous gardens, but as you walk farther away down side roads the properties and houses are of a size that beggar belief.  Massive green lawns that must surely need an army of gardeners to keep under control, and houses that would fit the rest of the village comfortably within.  Seriously they are huge!!! one has to wonder why people need such massive houses to live in!  I passed a secretive, ancient woodland, trees twisted in grotesque shapes, creeper that clings and there is nothing that can quite match that musty smell.  I was on the search for the church, but apparently didn’t walk far enough, so that will have to wait for another day. (some more photos)

There are two pubs; The Cock Inn from 1718 (I know!!!) and The Rose & Crown.  One of the houses is just gorgeous with white walls and pale yellow shutters.  I stopped at a gap in the hedgerow and just enjoyed the fields tucked away behind it, dotted with wild flowers and birds; magpies hopping about as they do.  They are such strange birds they way they walk about like a parody of an undertaker.  Evidently the village is growing if you count the houses that have been built along the winding roads, and a drive through the village belies the extent to which it has spread.  I love to poke and peer and sometimes venture into places I probably shouldn’t be….but in doing so I find all sorts of interesting things…..like a huge field dotted with children’s play equipment, swings, a slide, a trampoline, football posts and a jungle-gym!. Who would have thought!

cutesy inns

This is definitely one of the perks of the work I do, travelling to tiny little villages in the depths of the countryside.
However, my heart is always in London and I do miss my frequent walkabouts.  I was riding on the bus from Lancaster Gate to Turham Green the other day and realised that despite my ‘frequent’ walkabouts, I have so much still to explore!  I have barely touched kensington, Chelsea and those areas of London.  So now that I am out ‘that way’, so to speak, I will be sure to hop on the bus into town for more excursions! 🙂 can’t wait!

On the job front….been doing lots of research into office type jobs, but it’s a no go as far as I can see. Mostly need experience again on programmes I haven’t worked on before! As mentioned!  I have started to broaden my horizons and searching for jobs with more adventurous and interesting features.  Hmmmm, some really cool jobs out there.  I saw a good one for a P.A. In Richmond, but they require First Aid experience, so have saved it for further perusal.  Only 30 hours a week and a fairly good rate per hour. Might be a possibility.  I think I would actually like to get something in travel or within the travel industry….preferrably an outdoors type of job! Can’t bear the thought of being tied up for 9 hours a day indoors.  So am looking, looking.  I am writing up a list of things I enjoy most and working on that. Will be interesting to see what comes of all my tag words in google. Wonder what it will spit out.  Of course my ideal job would be as a companion to someone on a cruise ship….now that I could enjoy! 🙂

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I notice lately that I am unable to ‘reply’ to comments or post tags relevant to a blog post. does anyone know what the problem could be?

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So on my way home yesterday, after spending the morning at Sweetie Pies, I sent a wee message to the Universe to ask for a bit of financial input! (read – work, although a lottery win of substance would be even better). A few hours later I got a frantic call from the Agency to say that they desperately needed my help with a job in Kent! Of course I said yes, since the cash would be great to keep the wolf from the door at month end! 🙂 Although I did have a bit of a stress coz I really did not want to take on any more care work. However, needs must! But, to cheer me and give me hope, another exciting call came a bit later and a friend of mine was looking for someone to do some hefty spreadsheets for her and of course again I said yes. So that is a step in the right direction for building up ‘The Money Box’ business. Hooray! Frantic packing took place last night, sorting what to take and what not! I can’t bear to lug a heavy suitcase around the UK anymore, so now I am endeavouring to ‘travel light’….well more or less! So this morning I headed off bright and early to catch the train to Knockholt in Kent for a 7 day job. I think that if I am going to continue taking work with the agency they have to keep them short. Just as a boost to the bank balance till I get more work secured in the accounts side. Kent is a beautiful area of the UK with rolling green fields, some dotted with wooly white/ish sheep, hedgerows that tower above the road, hundreds of towering green trees, quaint and cute little villages, the well-known Hop-Houses, and winding roads that weave in and out of the patchwork tapestry of farms, fields, villages and hills. And green, green, green! The lady I am caring for is lovely and in retrospect I am glad I agreed to this position. She is the same age as me and has Muscular Dystrophy. A bit of a kick in the pants for me from a ‘get your act together Cindy’ kinda way. I want to travel and so far I have fallen into a comfort zone (which of course I am now out of), so this has given me the wake-up call I need. A shock really. I could not imagine being tied to a wheelchair for the rest of my life and I am ever so grateful that I am in relatively good health. So perhaps after all it was good that I took this postion. I do believe I am going to enjoy this position. The houses in the area are gorgeous, old pubs, the little village church, gardens spilling over with blooms, no sirens, and very little traffic to speak of. I am enjoying the quiet, a real change from London, although to be fair the house I lived at in Highgate was also situated in a very quiet spot, albeit with a very different view and much, much bigger. I am already missing Highgate, but I do love Twickenham which is where I have been for the last few days. And of course I am already missing my lovely daughter. Will be really good to see her again in a week’s time. It’s really weird being ‘homeless’, and even though I always have a roof over my head, it’s never mine! The last time I owned a roof over my head was back in 2001!!! how bizarre. So essentially I have been homeless for the last almost 10 years, and yet I have always had a place to lay my head; albeit sometimes on the floor 🙂 – usually with a mattress and pillow beneath me. So, where to from here? I seem to be asking myself this question quite a lot lately and as yet have no answer. I know exactly what I would like to be doing, yet so far the means to do so, or perhaps the method of doing so is eluding me. Not sure why, but I am sure I will figure it out. Meanwhile, it would seem that my internet woes have followed me to Kent viaTwickenham and I am no better off as far as reception is concerned than I was back in Highgate. The provider; 3, have now said they will replace the dongle…..and about time too! I told them weeks ago that was the problem! So once again I am limited to logging on and off at 3 – 4 minutes intervals to do anything…..like post this blog. It is more than annoying as I have so much research and work to do. I haven’t been on my 3 Days in London twitter account for ages!!! When I do get reception, it will be to create the page for The Money Box – the Credit Control/Accounting business I wish to pursue. It would be so brilliant if I could get enough freelance work to continue with that as I really do love that type of work. I will also have to investigate securing part-time work from agencies. Quite a daunting prospect and I recall only too clearly how demeaning it was the last time I went for interviews with agencies. All the Consultants are ‘young things’, and although it is probably my own perception, it felt pretty much like they were treating me as an antique. Hmmm, now there’s a thought! I love watching the Antiques Roadshow, and have often mused at how I would love to discover some gorgeous brooch or fab piece of antiquity for £5 at a boot sale only to find it is worth thousands of £’s 🙂 ………….heehee, dream on! Well thats it folks, another day of my new adventures gone by. And although it doesnt feel like I have made progress, I do believe I am heading in the right direction. I plan on setting up a facebook page for The Money Box and advertise my services that way. New Media Angels also have an extensive network and once I have set up all my details, then that will go out in the next newsletter. That should be fun. Then I can say that ‘The Money Box’ is now open for business!

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So having traded in my bed and support mattress in a large bedroom with a view of the garden and  London in Highgate, for a futon on the floor of my daughter’s bedroom in Twickenham, my hips and lower back are protesting at the indignity!  The advantage of this new sleeping arrangement is that we get to chat as we settle into bed ready for sleep and she gets to have her feet massaged – my position on the floor at the foot of the bed is ideal for that! 🙂

Monday I woke to a full-blown panic-attack! Suddenly the limitations of my now defunct job seemed very attractive in comparison to having no income.  I had worked on my budgets the night before and went to bed with a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.  So first stop was the bank to transfer my hard-earned savings into my current account…..bills still have to be paid. Urgh!  I felt a bit better later in the morning after a chat with my chica and took some time out to start my job-search.  This still feels quite alien to me as I really do want to build my own business….so it’s a case of being between the devil (my debtors) and the deep blue sea (my dreams). A slightly different perspective on the old saying for sure, but a deep blue sea feels rather more attractive than the devil! 🙂

The rest of the day was spent online doing a job search.  During my online search I found that there are a lot of jobs available.  Only hurdle is that they require experience with programmes that are foreign to me.  I did cave in and look for Carer jobs and Housekeeper jobs (time to pull out my Mary Poppins bag).  I found one job that required a VERY good housekeeper to do all the necessary in the house, ‘ironing to a high standard’, looking after 2 girls 6&8, babysitting 2 nights a week and working from 7.30am-7.30pm Monday to Friday, a room with a view of the river and a salary of £300pw. Hmmm. I was tempted, except that I have to set higher goals for myself for the future.

Yesterday I earned my keep for the next two days by creating order out of chaos and sorting the piles of documents, pens (I am sure I counted at least 300 – no exaggeration), notepads and notebooks (I can’t even begin to imagine why Woolworth’s went out of business!), newspaper cuttings, magazines, business cards and much else into a semblance of order.  My daughter is very creative and this is reflected in the ‘artistic’ array of chaos.  As she said….she had a fair idea where things were…..now she has no idea, but at least it’s tidy! 🙂 hahaha.

I have started a list of ‘things I am good at’ and so far it is looking good.  A few years ago I started up a freelance business called “The Money Box”, doing what I am best at: Debt collection (aka Accounts Receivable in the UK), sorting paperwork and organsing a logical filing system.  It worked very well for a couple of months, and in retrospect perhaps I should have continued.  At the time my debts had overwhelmed me and the income from this venture had not yet reached a sustainable level so I caved in and returned to Caring……that was 2.5 years ago!   So now I am quite reluctant to go the same route and take the caring work as an easy solution to the income issue.  I will not resort to calling it a problem, coz it ain’t.  It’s just a matter of facing the errrr……fear…..etc.

Last night we, my daughter and I, sat out on a blanket on the lawn eating macaroni cheese (one of her favourite meals) and chatting about ‘where to from here?’.  We drew up a plan for the londonitinerary.com and 3daysinlondon.info websites and collated the products on offer.  I feel very confident about conducting tours around London now (albeit having to cram my head full of info beforehand), and would love to continue with that.  The only drawback I can forsee is the confidence  of potential clients……I have yet to gain a qualification in this area.  I have investigated the Blue Badge Guides course, and it is £5,000-00 and 2 years to qualify.  Hmmmm, a tad too long for me at this stage. Also, there are 1,000 Blue Badge Guides already operating in London, and they seem to have set routes and tours, and although they are fun (I have done 6 so far), I would prefer to be more creative.

The 3 Days in London self-guided Itineraries I have created so far are in the final stages of testing, and we plan to upload them to the website in the next 2 weeks.  I really loved conducting the birthday tour I did a few weeks ago and hope to do more of that in the future.   No! Actually scrap that….I PLAN to do more of that in the future 🙂  We have also discussed logical products for the site that will enhance a  visitor’s experience to London and provide items of interest for them.  The London coffee-table book is almost complete and that will go up as soon as it is finished.  It looks terrific so far and CJ has done a fab job of it.  It’s really exciting to see my photos in the book and I still marvel that they are mine….they look so good! 🙂   Forgive my momentary self-congratulation, except that I love taking photos of London and when they look that good in print, it gives me a real thrill. Oh! Btw, if you ever need photos of London….I now have over 21,000 in my collection! 🙂 and counting.

Other than that….I have completed my ‘Victorian’ novel….more like a short story actually, but my erstwhile guinea-pigs have read it and loved it!  So that will go up on kindle in due course.  It was quite weird how that came about actually.  I was walking back from the library one day and my route took me past the lower end of the Highgate Cemetery, and as usual I walked and looked.  I love to discover new headstones and am always on the lookout for unsual ones.  On this particular day, a beautiful white headstone seemed to shine out from the undergrowth so I stopped and took a few photos.   When I loaded them onto my computer I noticed the inscription and immediately a story popped into my head.  I could see the whole family and the lass in question.  The story took no more than a few hours to write and after a few days of mulling it over, tweaking and improving, researching life in Victorian days, I completed the book to my satisfaction.   It was originally meant to be a short blog, but the story just built and built till it was a wee bit more than a blog!

So where am I today?  Supporting the local economy of course.  I walked with CJ into town, then took a walk along the river….it was so lovely at 9.30am, not many people about, and I managed to take some fab photos of Church Street (not many cars about), and the river.  Then I sat on one of the benches that line the promenade and read the paper 🙂 whoo hoo.   I never have time to do that.  Of course I took loads of photos and took a walk over to see the ‘Beach in Twickenham’.  The http://www.richmond.gov.uk/play organisation have created a play beach on Champion’s Wharf and it was already busy, busy with toddlers playing in the lovely sand as the Mum’s looked on.  It will be there till 21 August.   The tide was out and I got some fun photos from below the wharf, so to speak! 🙂

play beach at Champion's Wharf, Twickenham

At just after the 10 o’clock bells from the church, I meandered over to Sweetie Pies for tea and scone with jam and cream.  Good for the physche, not so good for the cholesterol! 🙂 🙂  However…..!  Here is a great quote I read on the menu “Each cup of tea represents an imaginary voyage. Steam rises from a cup of tea and we are wrapped in history, inhaling ancient times and lands, comfort of ages in our hands.” Catherine Douzel.  Just makes you want to drink cup after cup!  I settled for a pot and set my computer up….which is just where I am right now. 🙂  It’s really busy today and CJ is running her feet off.  The scone was delicious and the best you will get anywhere.  I have since then had a 2nd pot of tea and a miniature cupcake; chocolate with chocolate icing and pink hearts!  Yummy! I can truly recommend a visit.  The garden is looking wonderful, as only an english garden can and I enjoyed a brief walk about the courtyard photographing the blooms.

tea and cupcake at Sweetie Pies, Twickenham

Shortly it will be time for me to head off back home and back to the job-search.  No internet reception here, so I will have to say farewell to my chica and see ya later!

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So the first day after resigning was spent in a haze of shock and a not unsubstantial state of terror!! then it was time to pack and take all my belongings back to storage. I didn’t realise just how much I had managed to accumulate once again and how much I had brought out of storage. Lucky that I was planning a break from the 6th anyway, so I had taken a huge suitcase full of books and paperwork and winter clothes back to the storage on Wednesday – the day before I quit. Needless to say there was loads more to move over and I was not feeling too happy. Even though I had made the decision to quit, I still felt quite a lot of resentment….not sure who it was directed at, but I was not a happy bunny.

So Friday night I again made my way over to the storage unit with yet another massive loads of stuff….I really have to downsize one of these days. As I was standing staring into the storage locker the thought crossed my mind that if I was to buy a campervan and start travelling, I would never in a million years get everything I had in storage into a campervan. Urgh!!! possessions!!!!

Saturday dawned bright and as I have for the last few months, I woke real early and tossed and turned, eventually dragging my sorry ass out the bed and headed off downstairs for a most wanted cup of tea. Heaven. I sat out on the verandah and just soaked up the peace and quiet, enjoyed watching the wee birds flitting back and forth from the feeder to the bushes and wondered why I had not seen any of the squirrels for the last few days….not even Sue! 🙂 who was usually first one at the table. It has been a great treat to sit out on the verandah and watch this little creature who has gotten so used to my presence that it doesnt even run away now when I come out the door. In fact it had gotten so tame that I almost managed to entice it to eat out my hand!!! 🙂 I am most definitely going to miss this garden.

I felt really sad actually, as I sat there. This has been my home for the last 18 months and I had grown to love the house and the garden and especially the wildlife. The foxes in the evenings as they come to eat the food I put out have been enchanting to watch, and the baby has now grown quite fat (no surprise) and lovely in the last few weeks. Of the four pups I saw a few weeks ago, only the one still returns. I think it may have made itself a home in the undergrowth. But, I digress….

The day did not go at all well after that, and I got a call with a very unpleasant situation (which I won’t go into), but suffice to say that thankfully I had packed up the last of my possessions the night before and only had minimal cleaning still to do before the take-over Carer arrived at 12noon. However, the events of the morning just reminded me really of why it was time to move on! By 1.30pm I was done and finally….freedom!!! no time limits, no night calls, no bossy visitors, and no salary!!!! 🙂

I set out for Richmond. I had planned to stay with my daughter for the 2 weeks of my break, hoping to get extra work in the period, but now as it transpires……since I am not going back, it will be new pastures for me. Not sure at this stage if they will be greener.

Two hours later and I was settled in and we strolled into Twickenham for…..guess!!!!! yeah! You got it….cupcakes and tea. Time to celebrate my freedom and with my whole life and future ahead of me the world is my oyster. Now it was time to figure out what to do. Although I can easily pick up the phone and request another caring job, but to say that I am reluctant is the least of it.

So we; my daughter and I sat and chatted, sipped tea and made the most of a cupcake. Afterwards we took a walk along the river and enjoyed the early evening.

the river near Twickenham Bridge

The first thing I have to do is register with agencies. The only hurdle I can forsee is that I have been out of the Credit Management environment for 10 years and when I tried to secure a Credit Control position a few years ago…….already then my CV was out of date. In fact to my dismay I had forgotten many of the terms related to Credit Control…but hey! I am damn good at collecting outstanding monies. 🙂

My daughter and I are going to update my CV to reflect my newer skills, especially the Internet related skills and then I am going to go full out for interviews. I have already approached a well known Women’s agency that work specifically with women who have been out of the job market for some time. So although I haven’t actually been out of work, I am most certainly out of practice. It’s quite daunting actually.

Sunday we woke early and went for a walk along the river for breakfast at the Tide Tables Cafe in Richmond. A snug little cafe situated beneath the arches of Richmond Bridge. We settled in for tea and croissant and read the sunday papers. This is something I have not done for ages and ages and it was such a treat…to just sit and relax, sip tea, munch my way through a croissant and scan the papers for interesting articles. Heaven. And the beauty of it was that I had no deadline. Hooray! On the way there I spied what could be a residential option if I find myself on the streets 🙂 heehee.

I could set up my tent on the riverbank 🙂

I spent the afternoon sorting out and repacking my daughter’s office and cupboards, filing and tidying documents and stationery and much else besides. Right up my alley. I love taking piles of paperwork and and stuff and putting it into order. So that was the day. We had a snooze in the afternoon and then headed out in the evening for supper at Giraff in Richmond. Their food is great, and I had a very healthy pizza and a fruit smoothie. Yum! On the way home we stopped just after Twickenham Bridge and sat on one of the park benches situated on the path. It was so cool out and the evening was soft and lovely.

So although I am still feeling somwhat terrified at not having a secured position with the relevant income, it is quite exciting to plan for the future. Raising a glass to adventures yet to come!

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So finally after months of wanting to and not having enough courage to….I finally quit my job!  I recall a few months ago when I learned of Elizabeth Taylor’s death, that I wrote in my blog it was time to quit my job, and that I should really look at the prospect of doing just that very seriously now, but I hung on and hung on!   Afraid really.  In the event it was done in a fit of anger brought about through months of frustration, but I am pleased that I finally took the plunge! So now it’s ‘sink or swim’ 🙂 or become a rubber ball and bounce back!

On the day in question, I had once again been insulted by a visitor to the house and finally enough was enough.  One of the things I loath is being talked down to by people, and sadly in this type of job, you are just ‘the carer’, a nothing to most people, just there to pick up and clean up and shut up!    I am amazed at my capacity of endurance and by the level of how much I am prepared to endure before I reach my limit!   Actually it was quite ironic that just a couple of days before I quit, I had sent my daughter a text that said “Am I just too ingrained for make do and get on with it, or is my discomfort zone not narrow enough?” and the response I got was “In fact here’s a better idea: stop thinking about it in personal development terms….go back to basics: what the %*@ do you want to do with your life?” 🙂 she also reminded me that it was me who taught her how to be a ‘rubber ball’.

So yeah, good idea! Time to bounce back.  Now, what do I want to do with my life?  I know what I don’t want to do and that is continue working in the same environment I have worked in for the last 10 years. I do want to travel, I do want to get back into an environment where I am exercising my brain, using my skills (of which there are many) and getting my life back.   I have become so old and slow in the last few years, and working in that environment has limited my horizons to such an extent that I still feel like there is a box around me.    It’s almost a physical feeling of limitations. Limitation of freedom… a huge issue for me, as one of my highest values is freedom!  It was in the end horrible to work in an environment where I was unable to just ‘go out’ whenever I felt like it.  I realise I had time off and they were generous, but the feelings of being tied-down were most unpleasant, and slowly but surely it wore me down.

Of course there are other considerations; like the financial issues that I wrote about in my book (How to turn 1p into -£50,000), and of course the obligation to meet my debts is very strong.  So that was a bit of a deterrant to the ‘jump off the edge and let’s see if I sink or swim’ mindset for which I have been known.  However, if I look at the other aspect; the ‘rubber ball’ syndrome then hey I will be just fine!  Finances can be sorted, arrangements can be made and I can in fact use my experience and knowledge to generate the necessary!

I phoned my younger sister that evening (thank goodness for skype) to pour out my woes, I was feeling just a bit terrified at the prospect of no money coming in, in the next two weeks (the limit of my current horizons), and she came up with a brilliant idea.   Like my daughter she is a font of bright ideas. So here’s the thing!  I am 50+, living in a country that to all intents and purposes is going through a recession (or so the papers would lead us to believe), I have been out of my qualified area of expertise for the last 10 years, and in those years have not gained any new quantifiable skills besides all the Personal Development courses I did! Hmmm.

So what to do?  Well the first thing she suggested was that I blog about my new journey, about what it’s like for a 56year-old woman to start off afresh at an age where you are no longer considered viable in the Corporate Field, about how I plan to get back into the job market (if that’s what I decided to do), to share my experiences, good and bad of whatever hurdles or successes I may have.  To sit down and list any new skills I have gained over the last few years – like figuring out how the internet works, learning how to blog, how to do research on google (at which I am getting pretty good), how to build and manage twitter and facebook profiles/pages, and of course now seriously make the most of creating and conducting London tours. Well thats easy, I love conducting tours!

My first step of course will be to write up a skills based CV, and start advertising my services. No! Cheeky, not those kind of services 🙂 ). hmmmm.  Watch this space…….

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