Week 33A (w/c 21Feb) -Ta’ra For Now. The Last Post.

Since my Gran had a stroke  3 years ago I’ve sent her a postcard every Thursday no matter where I was in the world. For the last 2 years I’ve also written my blog every Thursday (or Friday),give or take a few. Today both come to an end. A unexpected coincidence. Neither were meant to end this way but both were inevitable.

* Locations – Singapore, London & Lake District (UK)

* Singapore – Work was work, Singapore was Singapore, food was good, people the same: it’s been fun. I’d originally planned to stay an extra 4 nights but some things just aren’t meant to be and I’m blessed to have had the time I had. I didn’t get to see everyone I’d hoped to but those that I did get chance with got my undivided attention and I enjoyed every moment. As I alluded to in my last post it’s strange being back here especially with Mr K in tow (or maybe I’m the one in tow?), 10 days there didn’t make it feel any less strange and going to a different office only added to the familiar yet oh so strange feeling. I guess it can summarised by saying I felt detached most of the time and I’m not quite sure why given I usually feel every bump, good or bad, in a very immediate and real way. The news about my Gran obviously impacted my mood but I was feeling a bit odd before that came through, perhaps these things you know in your heart before your brain gets told. I don’t know.

Some Thoughts

Life in Singapore is as easy and as plastic as I remembered. It’s a very convenient lifestyle and I can see why people love it. Whilst I’m not sure I’d want to make my life there I do also wonder why people put up with stuff like unreliable transport, high taxes, litter and people being uncouth and rude in public that are rife in other countries. I’m sure no country has the balance right, I just need to find one that works for me and generally stay focused in resisting as many of society’s conformist expectations as possible. I’m happy to play along to a degree but there’s a whole host of things that people ‘need’ or are expected to do which they buy/do without thinking because everyone else is. I don’t want to be that person. I want to be someone who continually challenges themselves and questions their own, and society’s beliefs and resulting actions. I want to look back on my life and know that I am where I am because I made some actually choices rather than because I just want along got the ride. I don’t want to live in a hut in the middle of nowhere growing my own food, wearing clothes made of bark and referring to myself as a child of the earth but equally I don’t want to be suited and booted paying through the nose of a sardine-can ride to work only to be greeted by people so uninspired and jaded by their work and industry that they don’t even get excited when someone goes to the effort of bringing in home baked goods. Even at the most basic level, sitting at a desk staring at a screen for 8+ hours a day isn’t natural and I don’t want to do it. Not forever.

My very first post on this blog echoed a similar message about my feelings towards my work and yet here I am again, working for a bank, selling my soul. I’m back because I thought I missed the work and the energy and I wanted to try another bank. My rose tinted glasses however had allowed me to forget the various frustrations that come with the industry. I’m on a 6 month contract rather than a permanent role and this is helping me keep personally detached from my work and not get caught up emotionally in it. I’m definitely more confident than I used to be and definitely better at managing upwards and setting expectations. I believe I also have more perspective and a better work life balance although I do believe that perhaps the latter is something mythical that HR have made up to give people a goal to feel good about reaching towards but in reality that very few can ever fully meet.

Increasingly I’m becoming to really believe that a lot of this world just seem to be about mind games and people’s ego. All day every day people devise business plans, advertising campaigns, political slants whose aim isn’t necessarily to do what’s right for the consumer/receiver/voter and help them make the best decision but rather they’re appealing to our egos so that our actions can in turn build up theirs. I’m not explaining my thoughts on this particularly well but that’s because they’re still in the process of forming. Our minds are extremely powerful and vulnerable things and yet we, myself included, know so little about them. We spend so much time being told we need to be physically fit and yet rarely anyone talks about taking care of our brains unless they’re talking about someone who has a condition diagnosed already and so needs rehabilitating. So much of our lives is driven by this reactive rather than preventative. But now I’m just ranting.

I guess where I’m at, where the last two years has gotten me, is that I want to continue to be my own person. I want to live in a way that I choose and consume the foods and information that I feel is right for me rather than doing things because the rest of society does for no reason other than that the media, or someone else in a perceived position of authority, has told them. I don’t want the people around me, or my own unquestioned beliefs, to limit me. I want to free of my ego and care less about how I measure up to people around me, not to feel judged for not measuring up to social norms which in of themselves are often quite arbitrary. I want to love myself, to be love others and have them reciprocate not because they feel they should but because they value me, the real me, as a person.

Half of me feels like I should end this post with a summary of my travels or a list of highlights but in reality I loved every country for a multitude of different reasons, I met so many amazing people that there’s too many to list, I’ve fallen in love time and time again with the most unlikely of candidate and my outlook and horizons have changed more than I ever thought was possible. I’m still me, fundamentally I haven’t changed, but I’m freer than before and I’ll fight anyone who ever tries to clip my wings again. We really are all the same, all of us. Home is most certainly am abstract notion and absolutely nothing to do with bricks and mortar and our relationship with ourselves and with others is more important than anything else.


Thanks for all your love, support and encouragement over the past 2 years and 100+ posts. I’m already planning my next trip in my head so give me a year or so and I’ll be posting again a being well!





Weeks 30.5 & 31.5 (w/c 9thFeb) – The Penultimate Week

It’s been a strange week or so. Since my last post I’ve seen a number of unsuitable rooms in London (who’d have thought that finding a room would be so hard) and flown to Singapore where I think I’ve tried every nationality of food except Singaporean! I’ve another week left her but this time I have to work, it’ll be good to progress with my project (and earn some cash – as a contractor I don’t get paid for time off) but I’ve pretty much just relaxed into traveller model and would love nothing more than to hang out with Mr K every day!

  • Locations – London & Singapore
  • London – Wake, eat porridge, work, flat hunt, if it’s a good day eat more porridge, sleep. Repeat.
  • Singapore – It’s strange being back for a number of reasons. Firstly I never intended on coming back so quickly or for so long. I figured I’d probably pass through here in a couple of years time on the way to somewhere else but here I am, and for a whole 2 weeks. Secondly I used to live here alone being all independent and ‘girl power’ and the like and now I can barely brush my teeth without giving Mr K a hug first, goodness knows how I’ll manage next week when I have to venture into the office.
  • Malaysia Airlines, Friday 13th – Yes, yes I actually booked that flight and no I’m not superstitious (much), in my defence it was the only evening flight left out of London when I finally got the green light about coming. It was actually a lot better than expected although the flight here was almost extremely eventful: my stopover time in KL was just an hour and so when I realised my inbound flight was running 40mins late I knew I’d be lucky to make it. As it was I sprinted across the airport only to find my connecting flight was 15min delayed and so boarding hadn’t even started. Phew. So although I made it on time my bag didn’t. This being Singapore though my bag arrived at my front door a mere 14hrs later. Wahoo!
  • Valentines Day – Ever practical Mr K left the rose he’d bought me in the fridge when he came to the airport to meet me. In doing so he prolonged its life by at least a day, how lovely is he! I also got chocolates in a heart shapes box – so mushy! To be fair this is my second ever valentines and the first ever that I’ve not spent almost entirely on the loo! Last year we celebrated Valentines on St David’s Day (March 1st) in Mexico at an Irish pub eating Chicken Tikka Masala, this year involved jet lag and a corny valentines day card with a picture of bacon on the front. Since then he’s been cooking for me and walking me to the bus stop and other such things that I’d usually protest quite loudly about for fear that in accepting someones help then I’d owe them. Sometimes I wonder why he’s so nice to me and then I remember it’s because I’m awesome!
  • Head bangs – 0
  • Highlight of the Week – Staking along East Coast Park with Mr K
  • Next Steps – Survive the weekend, work for 3 days and then fly back to the UK Wed night before making a speedy unscheduled trip up to the Lake District as close to possible as my 5.35am arrival into London Heathrow. No rest for the wicked.

Only in Singapore….



Yeop, pretty much as I left it


Going to miss you Gran.

Going to miss you Gran.


First real tatting conquest. Please excuse the mistakes!!

First real tatting conquest. Please excuse the mistakes!!

Trying to make our skates like like mini-skates

Trying to make our skates like like mini-skates

Weeks 28.5A & 29.5A (w/c 25th Jan) – Ante-penultimate Post

It saddens me to think of this coming to an end but I think the end has been insight for a while. This was a travel blog intended at keeping friends and well wishers up to date with my whereabouts and a way of telling people about my adventures without boring them to tears with huge long stories upon my return. The first 4 month of being back was a bit of job hunting, a bit more traveling and so it made sense to keep the updates coming, now however I’m pretty much set in a routine of work, eat, sleep and catch up with Mr K in between, not exactly blog material and at the moment I don’t have the time or mental capacity to keep the blog going on musings alone.

Next Friday I’m off to Singapore and I intend to do my last two blog posts from there. My last in this series anyway – more travels are bound to follow at some point! I’ve been finding it hard to keep the discipline to blog weekly and so in my heart I know it’s time to let go. Sending the final post from Singapore will also be nicely poetic as that’s where it all began, that and I’ll finally be back with Mr K, albeit briefly.

Just want to thank everyone for reading and encouraging me to keep traveling, keep writing, keep loving and keep smiling – thank you, I couldn’t have done it without your support.

So here goes, the penultimate post….

* Locations – London Town.

* Work – You know things are bad when you have to sit your boss, and the rest of the team down, and remind them that meetings should have a purpose, 1-2-1s should occur, book of works and updates should be provided, continuously chatting and distracting each other is not on and that the team meeting isn’t simply a chance for them to moan at each other. Sigh. It took all the tact I could must to deliver that message and I think it’s been well received, I know this because my boss has thanked me on multiple occasions for it and because in keep seeing him re-reading the print out of ‘new team rules and structure that I provided. Overkill? Perhaps. Effective? Seems to be.

* Waterloo Freeze – Last weekend I, and 200+ others froze in place at Waterloo station for 5 mins at exactly 3pm. You can see me in this video from 2.04, bottom left corner, pink coat, arms held out in front of me in a tai chi post I knew I could hold for the full 5 mins without feeling pain. http://www.itv.com/news/london/2015-02-02/frozen-flashmob-brings-waterloo-station-to-a-standstill/

* Flat Hunting – ah the joys of flat hunting. Given people typically need to give a months notice I’m not sure why everything online seems to be available now and not in a months time, it makes life for us organised people rather difficult. Going away for 2 weeks is pretty bad timing but hopefully I can stay where I am until the end of the first week in March so I should be fine. Worst case I can airBnB it for a week or so. I found an excellent room yesterday and was able to view it same day. I thought I had it secured but the people I met with have turned out to be extremely narrow minded and so I’m probably better off without them. Saying that the flat was pretty perfect – good sized rooms and great location. Never mind. Need. To. Keep. Looking 😦

* Head Bangs – 2 in 2 weeks although I did wake this morning with my head plastered up against the wall seemingly with some force. Not sure how, or why, I’d managed that.

* Current Missions – Eat out the cupboards and read the contents of my bookshelf. I was also attempting to knit my way through my wool stash but that’s one mountain that’s seemingly impossible to climb. I have however, I can’t believe I’m admitting this but hey at least I have my trousers on(!) joined the knitting club at work. Can’t say it’s my favourite way to spend my lunch break but it took some doing to actually go and it’s a refreshing break from my impossible work and chaotic team.

Tatting – Yeop, that’s right, I’ve started to learn to Tatt. It’s a form of lace making for those of you who live in the 21st century and have no idea what it is. Pic of my first achievement (motif for a card for my gran) below, it look me the best part of an hour I recon. Next project is a bookmark for a friend.

* Mr K Location – Singapore

* My Location This Time Next Week – SINGAPORE!!

* This Weekend – Yesterday I met with a guy who I’d hung out with in Argentina for a week. Always nice to catch up with people, see Big Ben et al and walk through this fabulous city. Today I stayed home all day to make curry, banana loaf, crispie cakes, scones, soup and pack for Singapore. I was also hoping to do some more house hunting but whilst I’ve contacted a bunch of people no one, with the exception of the people from yesterday, are picking up. It’s clearly a landlord’s market. I met am old lady in the street earlier who was struggling with her bags. I’m so desperate to stay in this area that I almost asked her if I could live with her in exchange for doing her shopping for me! Hopefully it all works out soon.

Next Steps – Survive this week at work. Fly to Singapore. Arrive in Singapore Feb 14th, coincidentally, and run into the safety and security of Mr K’s arms! Can’t wait, it’s been far too long!



Week 27.5A (w/c 17th Jan) – So Tired-Lah

Greetings from Wales or at least I was in Wales when I first started drafting this! And no, for any of you who read all the way to the end of the last post and didn’t just skip ahead hoping to see pics of me with my bum out, a trip to Wales wasn’t part of my original plan for the week. But then neither was another big ticker purchase but more on that in a mo…

* Locations – London Town (about 95% of my time in Canary Wharf) and Bridgend, Wales.

* London Antics – Last weekend I was invited to Buckingham Palace to see photos of am exhibition from when a price toured the Middle East back in 1860 or something. It was the first time a royal photographer had been taken on such a visit and the results were fabulous. Whilst I hadn’t been to any of the sites that had been photographed I’ve seen enough pics of things such as the Sphinx to know that it’s simply more than a head. Seeing picture of people visiting such famous sites before they were properly uncovered is pretty humbling and makes me realise just how insignificant, low risk and easy my trip was! Other London based antics include 2 trips to wagamamas, 2-for-1 at the cinema, promotion drinks and tai chi all pretty much in succession! In fact tonight is my first night off since a week last Saturday and even then I didn’t sit down to eat until almost 9pm. So yeah, busy, happy but exhausted. Did I mentioned that I’m also house hunting or having my cousin to stay??

* Wales – I’d promised I’d go back to Wales early in the year and what with needing to move and with going to Singapore for 2 weeks (yep, yep you read that right!!) at the end of Feb I was pretty much running out of weekends to see my Dad and Bro. So Wednesday night I confirmed it was OK for me to come and after a particularly frantic Friday which also included taking delivery of a box of Mr K’s things I caught a bus back to Wales. It was a 4 hour journey and I think I slept for 3hrs and 59mins of it. In fact if my Dad hadn’t of called to check I was going to arrive on time I’d probably have missed my stop! Oops. Whilst in Wales (for a full 40hrs) I went to the DIY store, the supermarket and the scrap metal depot. Standard! Also acquired some more wool, double oops!

* Head Bangs – One pretty hard one where I slammed the side of my head against the wall early one morning when I woke needing the loo. Heaven knows!

* Mr K’s Location – Singapore!

* Days Until I see Mr K – 18…..aaaaaaaaahhhhh…!!

* Singapore – So yeah, Mr K invited me to a cheap conference in Bali. Flights were cheap so I asked work if I could spend a week in their Singapore office and then take a week off. In the week it took for them to decide flight prices almost doubled and the conference turned out to be less of a bargain and so instead I’m going to have 2 weeks in Singapore, 1 of which I’ll be glued to Mr K’s side and the other of which he’s going to have to peel me off and kick me out of the door to work. Can’t wait! Obviously it’s going to be amazing to see him but I’m also looking forward to catching up with my old friends and lunch buddy and generally eating as much cheap and delicious Asian food as I possibly can! In fact I’m so excited about it all that I could cry!

*Bunting – This week another of my random possessions has come in handy – my housemate has just been granted British Citizenship and so my Union Jack bunting and selection of bargain English flags are now hanging in the lounge along with the inflatable daffodil that accompanied me to Mexico and Argentina! Not a bad crop of surprisingly appropriate celebratory accessories given I pretty much own 1 suitcase, 1 backpack and 2 small boxes worth of possessions!

Next Steps – Lacy making workshop tomorrow after work, Thursday is Qi Dong, Friday meditation class and then food at a friends house, Saturday house hunting, Sunday taking part in a flash mob ‘freeze’ in Waterloo station….and somewhere in a of that I’ve got to find the strength to cope with work where it’s all kicking off and my boss who’s on the brink of a meltdown…..ah what I wouldn’t give for a hug Mr K! Life is good though, if I can’t smile I don’t know what I can do 🙂


My latest achievement, next I've got a hanky to embroider!


Mr K's box came with my beloved travel mug, an amazing Christmas card and the most perfect xmas gift (the spoon in case you wondered!)

Week 26A (w/c 10th Jan) – Getting My Bum Out on the Tube

Oh what a strangely exhausting and exhilarating week. I’ve hardly stopped. Last minute sales shopping mishaps coupled with finding my feet at work, starting a later night Qi Dong class, meditation class on my lunch break undressing on the underground mean that I’m officially shattered. Above all though *mush alert* I miss Mr K: these adventures are made for sharing.

  • Locations – London Town, Baskingstoke
  • International No Pants Subway Ride: The Background – To avoid confusion us Britts call it Pants on the Tube day (to ensure people don’t turn up starkers!). This was last Sunday. Now before you judge me I’d like to encourage you to look at ImprovEverywhere website and read a bit about why they do what they do. In essence it’s to create harmlessly odd or confusing situations that brings a smile to peoples faces and ideally gets them engaging with the people around them. Their first go at such a situation was a few guys on the New York metro in their boxers, this year, 14 years later, there were something like 13,000 people taking part in NY and thousands more around the world. In London I recon there was about 300 of us (80% guys) but split into smaller groups in order to maximise our coverage. I invited a bunch of my mates to join me in this event but bizarrely I got a blank looks and most people were conveniently busy. I’d messaged a Canadian friend to see if they wanted cheap tickets to the theatre, the answer came back no but when I asked him to undress on the train he was very much up to it. That was up until moments before when his face was a priceless look of pain, confusion, worry and all the rest, the vein on this forehead visibly popping out!
  • The Experience – So you get onto the train clothed and when it starts moving you take off your pants like it’s the most natural thing in the world, fold them into your bag and then read a book or chat to a mate. Periodically you get off the train, walk around the station and bit and then get into another. In total I went on 3 trains and walked through 3 stations (naturally the ones with the longest walkways!) over the space of am hour. I learnt a number of things from my experience: (1) if you’re ever really cold in a public place simply take your pants off, I’ve not sweated that much in a long time; (2) it’ll take a lot for me now to be embarrassed in public (this is not an invitation for you to push my limits here!); (3) trousers should never be taken for granted; (4) too many people take life way too seriously particularly around what other people think of them and their bodies; (5) a sure way to attract strange properly-old old men is to get your legs out in public and (6) I do really have almost a foot more worth of leg that most girls. I think Doug summed it up nicely in a text he sent me: ‘I got to the gym before realizing I didn’t pack my runners. So I worked out in my boots. Even though everyone in the gym thought I was a w**ker, I wasn’t the least bit fazed. Thanks no pants tube ride!’
  • Basingstoke – I had to go there to see my mum for the afternoon, there’s pretty much no other reason anyone would ever need to go there (no offence Baskingstoke) except to see the Asian Uncle who plays the violin impressively well and for even more impressive periods of time. Good day and I even managed to power through my weekly food shop literally moments before catching the train back to London. Success!
  • Life Infrastructure – Awesome quilt acquired after some cafuffle. At the risk of sounding really simple and far too simply pleased I’m so, so chuffed with it! This is the first time in half a decade I’ve had a nice duvet – in Singapore I slept under a sheet, whilst travelling I didn’t really want to think about what I was sleeping under(!) and since I’ve been back I’ve been using a rather cheap and old borrowed one. Simply put my new duvet feels like heaven and I intend on spending the best part of Sunday snuggled up under it!
  • Qi Dong – Loosely put it’s a bit like Tai Chi but less martial-arty and more energy-flow although anyone who knows anything about these things will be wanting to slap me for that description. Class 1 was a success although 8.30-9.30 is a tad late for me (wasn’t sure if I could consistently attend an earlier class). At the end the instructor said we should be feeling all sorts of pain in our shoulder but frankly that was the only part of me that didn’t hurt! Must. Practise. For. Next. Week!
  • Work – Less talk, more action please! My patience is starting to wear thin there but I think my boss is appreciating my overt shows of support and attempts to help! We’ll see. Next week I have to actually hold some meetings and the expectation from my boss is that they’ll be a nightmare. Maybe I’m naive, maybe I’m an idealist but I can’t help but feel that if I go into them with that sort of attitude then it’s bound to be hardwork. I’m hoping it’s just a case of defining roles and responsibilities and keeping people focused. But hey what do I know, I’m new to all of that!
  • Head Bangs – 0 (honest!!)
  • Next Steps – Tomorrow I’m off to a photography exhibition about a royal visit to the middle east back in the day. After that I’m going to walk home (2 hours or so) and then cook a long awaited curry! Sunday I’m going to stay in bed until approximately 1.50 when I’m going to throw clothes on over my PJs and run to the nearest coffee shop so that I can skype call Mr K! By which I mean I’m going to get up extra early to do my hair and make up and shave my legs just in case my camera is so high resolution that these things matter!



Picture courtesy of Roy: website

Week 25A (w/c 3rd Jan) – That’s 93 Weeks So Far

They say there’s nothing quite like going back to a place you once knew to show you how you’ve changed. That’s not quite how they say it but after such a brain-frying week that’s the best I can manage. That seems to be the theme for this week. On a number of occasions I’ve found myself somehow observing myself in action and almost creating my own running commentary on the scene in front of me. Some times I’ve been proud of how I’ve handled a situation or reacted to someone (especially when compared to how I was last time I was working in London) but other times I’ve been less happy and will be looking to curb my tongue and moderate my reactions in future (easier said than done). It’s difficult to know what’s had the biggest impact on me (living in Singapore, travelling, being in a serious relationship etc) but being an analytical person I’d love to somehow draw up a spreadsheet and produce some graphs highlighting key moments, rates of change and sources of external influence. Maybe we’re all just an entry in a spreadsheet or database – one of God’s admin staff just populates a few key details (location of birth, status of birth, prospect rating, probability of success and lifespan), hits the ‘create’ button and a new life is formed. I think I like that theory, it’s suitably simple but allows for plenty of people to get their kicks trying to figure out what all the formulae in the spreadsheet would have to be like in order for it to work. It’s a shame God just hasn’t saved it in the cloud then someone could hack it. Anyway…

  • Locations – London Town. Period.
  • The Reason My Brain is Fried – Without going into the boring details I’m working on something that’s so badly defined that it’s like wading through an ocean of treacle. I need to implement an ‘evaluative process’ in a number of semi-undefined places and even if I work out my own definition of what those places should be it seems impossible to get a list of which said places currently exist (or should exist). That makes no sense to you I know so suffice it to say I’ve been knee-deep in documents all week trying to extract the salient pieces of information in order to populate a spreadsheet and every time I turn a new page I find something that contradicts what I already have written down. If I’d been at the firm a long while, or if my colleagues had (which they haven’t), most of this work would already be in their heads and we’d know to ask in order to fill the gaps. You’ve got to question why the business model seems to be to pull contractors and consultants in off the street when a good 40% of the challenge is just knowing the organisational structure and the people who support it. Time, that’s what I need, and more patience. My team mate was shocked that I was only 28 so either I’ve been coming across as more knowledgeable and capable than I am or I simply look really old. I should have asked him how old he’d pegged me for, I think he was thinking I was his age – mid/late 30s. Sigh. I’m hoping he’s just a really bad judge of age!
  • People Should Smile More – I’m back in Canary Wharf and I love it. Every morning when I come up the escalators from the station I have a huge smile on my face no matter how tired I am. That’s partly because I enjoy working here and partly because there’s far too many miserable people that I hope that someone will see my smile and smile back. Years back I decided I’d smile when it rained for much the same reason and now my smile is almost automatic. I’m trying to do the same with train delays but that one’s a tad harder especially when you’re squashed in and carrying bags that you can’t put down.
  • Mystery Bruise Count – 3 including a rather deep looking one on my bum that’s about the size of a 20 pence piece. It’s as though I attempted to sit, with some force, on a spike. Who knows!
  • Purchase of the Week – A torch with my Christmas money (thanks Dad!). Mr Keith, and my bro for that matter, are torch fanatics, there’s no other way of describing them and whilst I don’t find it funny when they’ve, on occasion, shone their super-powerful lights in my eyes I have found them particularly useful when out in the dark. So after months of procrastinating I’ve bought myself the tiniest of mini-powerful torches (Fenix LD02) and am pretty bob-smacked at just how powerful it is and just how much more I could achieve, should I so want to, in the dark simply by having it with me. My housemate remarked that if someone gave her Christmas money she’d have gone for an extra facial and so she was greatly amused that I’d bought something as practical as a torch. Whatever floats your boat I guess but unlike the aforementioned men in my life I think one torch is enough for me!
  • Head Bangs – 1 (same place as I’ve hit my head pretty much every week for the last 2 months. Apparently I don’t learn).
  • Highlight of The Week – Beef burger with my old boss. In fact I think it’s my first beef burger in close on a decade. Was delicious! My stomach doesn’t usually react well to such alien food though but we’ll see.
  • Next Steps – Tomorrow I’m off to Basingstoke to see my mum and then Sunday I’m going to ride around London on the underground without any trousers on. No word of a lie. Monday I’m going to be joining a meditation class on my lunch break and Wednesday night my first Qi Qong class. Exciting times!


I took this picture a few years ago of Canary Wharf underground. It's an awful lot busier now, worryingly so.

I took this picture a few years ago of Canary Wharf underground. It’s an awful lot busier now, worryingly so.

Week 24A (w/c 27th Dec) – An Englishman, a Canadian, a Macedonian and The Danish Walk Into A Bar….

OK so I’m not a man and we didn’t enter a bar but all good stories start with a list of nationalities! Apparently my humble blog was viewed over 3000 times in 2014 so I just wanted to say THANK YOU for reading and for your support and for sticking with me through the dry patches! 2015 here we come, onwards and upwards, or should that be ‘bring it on’.

  • Locations – Cockermouth (the Lake District) & London Town
  • Cockermouth Christmas Antics – Strictly speaking Christmas was covered in my last post but up’t north time just blurs and so the days around Christmas just seemed to blur into a mass of food and baileys! I don’t think I achieved a whole lot during my last few days there but achieving very little was exactly what I was looking to achieve and so I feel I achieved afterall (yes that’s one word)! Ha! On Sunday I’d booked myself onto a 10 hour bus ride back down to London. On the surface that sounds like a pretty stupid thing to do but when you consider the train was going to be £80, would have taken 5 hours and would have been preceded by a 90min bus ride (and then best part of an hour at the station) the £35 bus from a mile away from my Aunty’s was definitely the most convenient and cost effective option. At least that’s what I was telling myself at 6.45 when I woke and got read to leave the house! As it was the bus was 2 hours late and then got stuck in horrendous queues on one of the motorways (approx. 3 miles in 2 hours!) and so all in all it took me 14 hours to get home. I handled it pretty well although I have to admit that I got a bit grouchy when the bus stopped at Birmingham and we had to change (something that I’d looked to avoid by booked a direct bus) and was then told that the bus wouldn’t be stopping at 10min walk from my house in London but instead just stopping in central London meaning I’d have a 30/40 min commute back home not to mention the 30/40 min the bus took to get from my home into the centre! Sigh. But the important this is that I got home in one piece and the bus was only freezing cold for the first 4 hours!!
  • The Big News – Yes, that’s right, there’s big news this week….you’ll never guess what The Danish got up to in Edinburgh (Danish for your sake I hope you’ve already told anyone who needs to know!)…Danish kissed a slightly drunk Mormon! In a famous graveyard! Something like this could only happen to The Danish who two of my nearest and dearest described as first ‘slightly sinister’ and secondly having the smile of an axe-murder! Personally I think he’s completely harmless and a good laugh! Thanks for your visit Danish! Oh and he also sat next to a guy on the bus to Edinburgh who had a huge long argument with his girlfriend, vomited (if I remember correctly), cried a bunch and then fell asleep on Danish’s shoulder…sounds almost as bad as my 12 hour flight with no TV sat next to a genuinely smelly guy who’d decided that now was the time to turn his hair into dreadlocks using a crochet hook. Minging.
  • London Antics – Well I’ve been at work all week and that’s limited the antics slightly although to be fair yesterday (New Years Day) I had a day off and today I finished work at 2. Nice. Work is same-old same-old. I hate getting out of bed at 6.30am but I absolutely love coming up out the tube and into Canary Wharf. I have a love-hate relationship with the place! I love the energy and yet I hate how busy it always is. I love the amenities and choice of food/shops and yet I hate the excess and indulgence. I love the international and pressured nature of the job and yet I hate how self-important and self-centred so many of the people are. It amuses me to know that I work there and I grew up in the Welsh valleys and I can’t be the only one ‘that got in’ and so the other people around me must be human too despite their pretences! Give me another month and I’ll want out but right now it’s good to be back!
  • New Years – My Canadian friend had a Macedonian friend in town and I had The Danish and we decided to pool friends and have a mini New Years gathering of our own in lieu of getting tickets to the official fireworks display. Between us we cooked a feast of chicken, ham (inspired by my Aunty’s Mr Bill), stuffing, pigs in blankets, roasts and some obligatory veg. Starters was a Macedonian typical dish whose name escapes me and dessert was mince piece, xmas cake and Christmas pudding (I wanted them to try dried fruit in all it’s forms!!) along with brandy butter and brandy cream (it’s only Christmas once a year!). After food we headed out to Primrose Hill which was handily just a 15min bus ride away to watch the fireworks. We arrived around 11pm and I was worried we wouldn’t see a whole lot due to the crowds but we got a surprisingly good spot and so saw the new year in sampling the firework displays from across London and drinking some rather nasty (no offence Doug) sparkling white wine! Happy days!
  • Head Bangs – 2
  • Offensive Statement of the Week –Ms Macedonia: ‘St Paul’s Cathedral looks a bit like the Whitehouse’. I actually choked on my drink. To be fair we were a fair distance from it and so all that was visible was the dome….even still! That’s almost as bad as being called American. Speaking of which….
  • ‘You have an American accent’ Count – 1. It’s Canadian and I’m British!
  • Resolution – Year ago I decided that I’d smile when it rained in the hope that other people would smile too (people are always so miserable when it rains). I’ve now decided that I’m going to smile through train delays because that’s another time when people get incredibly stressed and grouchy. I did my best to put this resolution into practise a week early when I was forced to take 4 trains (about an hour) to work instead of the usual 1 (30mins) due to planned engineering works. Sure it was a pain but I now know never to transfer trains at Waterloo unless it’s absolutely necessary! Silver lining.
  • Next Steps – Clean the house before my housemate gets back this weekend. See mum next weekend. Learn to stay awake for a full day at work.


Week 23A (w/c 20th Dec) – Merry Christmas

This time last year I was in Canada celebrating Christmas with Keith’s family. This year I’m up’t north with my Aunty (and Gran) and I’ve I’m technically not had Christmas here before it’s nice to be celebrating Christmas at ‘home’. In fact this is pretty much the first time I’ve actually celebrated in 4 years!

  • Locations – London, Cockermouth (up’t North)
  • London Town – So Danish is in town. He arrived on Saturday morning and he’s staying until New Years Day. At this very moment he’s in Edinburgh but he’s still in the UK thanks to the ‘No’ vote. His visit has presented me with another opportunity to hone my tour guide skills in preparation for the eagerly expected arrival of Mr K sometime in early spring (whooop!) and I’m sure if Danish were to voice an opinion he’d be polite and say I did well however in reality we walked miles, often doing 3 sides of a square, and all the information I gave him was half-baked and only sometimes completely fictional. Still we never actually got lost and that’s the main thing no? Saturday saw a trip to Greenwich to see the GMT line, some excellent views of east London and then on to try and figure out how the Thames Barrier worked. Sunday saw lunch at one of the best fish and chip shops in the UK followed by an attempted graffiti tour and a nice long walk down to the Bank of England, Tower of London, Tower Bridge and other such touristy things. In the evenings we, Doug (who’d also joined us) and I, cooked an epic curry one night and then lasagna the next night (Danish assisted with washing up, cheese-sprinkling and beer bottle opening – good man!). So as always a lot of walking, a lot of food and good times.
  • Up’t North – I don’t actually think I’ve seen rain since I was here last. On the plus side rain means cloud cover and cloud cover means that it’s not freezing cold here which is almost a shame given all I brought with me were thermal layers, various woollen items and multiple scarves and leg warmers. If I’m honest I’ve not done a whole lot since I arrived but I think that’s OK because it’s Christmas and what else is there to do other than eat, drink, be merry and recover from my cold? And hey don’t get all high and mighty on me, you know you’ve just been watching TV and eating mince pies too! Highlights so far have been watching Disney’s original 101 Dalmatians (and googling random facts about it), seeing my Gran and skyping Mr K (who now has a mobile AND a webcam so I could see him for the first time in what feels like forever!). Low-lights have been limited to having a cold, 3 bouts of car sickness (aaaah!) and seeing the scum that’s produced when you boil coke! The latter hasn’t stopped me from enjoying the ham that they coke was being used for!
  • Head Bangs – 2 (I think I have an issue)
  • Games I think Mr K Should Get – Democracy 3 – run the UK, US or Canada…surprisingly complex!
  • Number of Pigs-in-Blankets consumed – 6 yesterday, 2 today and about 6 stuffing balls in total. Mr K, regarding you theory about pork and it’s correlation to dog farts…given I’ve just consumed my own weight in sausages, bacon, sausage meat and ham  over the last 24 hours and not had any issues I think your theory needs re-working (unless you want to rule these results out under the assumption that ‘ladies don’t fart’).
  • The Job – Not much to say really, I’ve worked 5 days in total so far and been paid for 4 of them already. I’d forgotten how horrible it feels to be taxed up-front and at a rate higher than the beautiful Singapore rate of 6%. I was hit with a temporary tax rate of 40% – ouch! Seeing that much of my payslip disappear just makes me wish I hadn’t bothered – For every 5 day week I work I only get paid for 3 of them thanks to Mr Tax Man. I’d have had to work for 6 whole weeks in Singapore before I had to pay 2 days pay work of tax – ridiculous! OK so Singapore doesn’t have free health care and there aren’t benefits as such but every Singaporean pays literally pennies in tax AND gets a tax rebate each year and the whole country runs smoothly and efficiently. There’s enforced savings for people to help towards health care, housing and pensions so it’s not like people get to retirement age and have nothing prepared (which seems to open be the case here). Oh and as for my new company – HR are shockingly disorganised – I turned up at 8.30 on Monday to be told the induction was cancelled because they didn’t think anyone was due to have one. This is despite the fact that 15 mins before it was due to start there were already 5 of us waiting and someone, I can only assume HR, had given reception a list with our names on. HR denied such a list and took our names down on what might as well have been a used napkin. We were then told to simply ‘go off and find our bosses’, yes, at 8.30am on Monday morning of Christmas week (i.e. NOONE is in the office yet) we were let loose in a huge office block full of confidential information – excellent. Handily for me I’d actually started the week before and so had an access pass and a desk already. The other new-joiners looked suitably shell-shocked and returned downstairs to an equally bemused receptionist.
  • Next Steps – 10 hour bus ride back to London on Sunday (wayhey!), Work next week with tour-guiding Danish in the evenings and then hopefully Dr Smodka (Dr Pepper and Smirnoff Vodka) on New Years Eve somewhere nice with a view like Primrose Hill.

The Danish and I Mr Bill's ham cooking in coke The 'Kate Moss' skinny christmas tree

Week 22A (w/c 13th Dec) – Back To Work

I think my feelings towards my new job can be summed up by simply saying the same thing to you as I said to my recruiter 5 minutes before I presented myself at reception on my first day: ‘Can you remind me again why I agreed to this? On reflection I think unemployment suits me.’ Apparently it made her choke on her coffee.

* Locations – London, mostly Canary Wharf

* The Job – I’m going to have to be more careful reading job descriptions in future (don’t roll your eyes Mr K!). I mean I had an appreciation of what my job might entail but if I’d asked just a few more questions I might not have been so eager to accept it. The fact that it’s a 6 month piece is reassuring but it’s also a huge piece of work which I’m very surprised isn’t further along or in the very least more structured. Today is my fourth day and the first day I’m required to attend a meeting and do actual work. On one hand that’s good as simply reading pages of documents was starting to make me want to jump from the window but on the other hand I quite like being responsible for nothing. We’ll see how it goes. Right now I miss my old job, old firm and working with the original dream team. I’m sat on the end of a bank of desks, in the corner of the office, surrounded by blank desks but in full view of the big boss. Fail.

* Achievement of the Week – Four days in the office and not a single piece of ironing done. Wahoo! In fact I may go so far as to say that I’m going to actively avoid buying new clothes that need ironing!

* Paraphernalia – When I was traveling I had about 5 outfits (that’s about 2 too many on reflection), 3 pairs of shoes (walking shoes, flip flops and semi-respectable sandals), a few lotions and potions and bandages and in reality not a lot else. I didn’t need anything else and when I very occasionally did I just improvised. Now I’m back in the UK, a very well developed country especially compared to a lot of the places I visited, there’s so much more that I ‘need’. I have a washing machine in the flat. This means I can wash a whole bunch of clothes at once but it also means I need washing powder, a clothes rack and somewhere to store dirty clothes. These clothes then, theoretically, need ironing (starching?), putting on coat hangers in a wardrobe. I also need to own a whole bunch of clothes as invariably things will be dirty and so unavailable.  Previously I had a bar of laundry soap, a bungee cord with 2 hooks on the end and a bowl that doubled up as a food bowl. Similarly to leave the house now I ‘need’ to take a wallet full of money and cards, I need an umbrella, my keys, a book to read on the train, gloves, coat, snacks, torch and a bag to put it all in and they all must match my outfit of course which comprises of various accessories. Previously it was any clothes that are modest and clean, camera, sunscreen, water (and Mr K for useful things like a torch and knife). Life was simpler. Now I also need a plunger in case the sink gets blocked, a mop for the tiles, a hover for the rest, a stash of toilet paper, washing up liquid, the list is pretty much endless and it’s starting to annoy me a tad. And don’t get me started on food shopping….Danish is coming to stay for a while so I’ve stocked the fridge with veg and meat a plenty only to then remember that he’s only here for 2.5 days before we both head off, separately, for Xmas. Veg binge it is then! Anyway, that’s whine enough, thanks for indulging me!

* Head bangs – 3

* Quote of the Week – ‘I’m very anal retentive’ – my new team mate. Great!

* Number of Times My Skirt Has Blown Straight Up – 2

* Other Antics – I’ve kept busy – breakfast with an old friend followed by trip to a Chinese Pagoda and the Wildlife Photography of the Year exhibition on Saturday. Monday I ran errands, Tuesday I was fleeced with a haircut and yesterday I met my Aunty and Uncle for a curry. Tonight, well blog wine and pasta (with veg!) and more bargain flowers from the supermarket.

* Next Steps – 2 days with Danish in London followed by 1 at work and then I’m catching a 6am train up’t north. Wahoooo!


View out of my office window!


How did I not know that this existed!

Week 21A (w/c 6th Dec) – Farewell Freedom (Almost)

I feel like I’ve given birth and now have the huge responsibility of a child. In reality I know this is a ridiculous and that what I’ve done (setting up my own company) is no way near as difficult or as committed as having a child but it does feel like one minute it didn’t exist and then next it did and with it came a whole can of worms that I now have to look after and be responsible for now until the end of time (or at least until I close it). Why do I need a company? Tax efficiency, that and because it’s a contract role and their preference is to pay me through a company. The weirdest thing is that it is real, it has bank accounts, it’s ‘out there’ and yet I can’t touch it, I guess I need to let go of the believe that only things you can touch are real (ey, Mr Keith!)

  • Locations – London Town (no change)
  • Antics – Well it’s been a busy week what with setting up my own company and yet still being unemployed. I really should have kept a note of what I’ve been up to as I’m struggling to recall. Let me see…OK so last Saturday I donned at least 2 pairs of thermals and went on a guided tour of graffiti in Shoreditch. It was pretty excellent really and surpassed expectations although the start time of 3pm puzzled me given it was a 3 hour tour and it goes dark around 4.30 now. Pictures below. As for the rest of the week it’s flown by. I’ve met uni friends for supper, new friends for lunch, been declined a personal credit card whilst my newly formed company with no proof of income has had a card with 3 times the personal limit accepted (go figure). I’ve also had meetings with accountants, insurance brokers and bank managers (more on those later). Oh and I got an amazing stash of cheap fruit and veg from a supermarket the other night – 48p for GBP 16 worth. ‘Bargain!’.  Let’s not mention the expensive trips to the dentist.
  • The Accountant – He seemed friendly and personable on the phone so when I went to meet him I stood to shake his hand whilst holding in the other hand my coat and my skirt. Yeop, I flashed my accountant. Oops. I’m hoping that he couldn’t see it all on account of the big coat and the fact I’ve been doubling up on the fleece lined tights this week but either way I was pretty mortified. Weirdly enough though that wasn’t what made him blush: at the end of the meeting he said something along the lines of ‘Your proposed set-up sounds completely standard so we’ll be able to handle it without any issues’ to which I responded ‘Are you calling me average?’. A perfectly innocent question and very much spoken in jest but he, an ageing South-African with a shiny bald head, blushed red and said he was sure I was anything other than average…at which point I then realised how my comment must have come out and did my best to ensure he understood I was joking with him as you know the world is too serious a place and all that. Awkward (turtle – one for you all to Google). Anyway….he said he’d follow up our meeting with a quotation via email but suffice it to say he hasn’t. I would chase him out of principle but I’m not sure the poor man’s heart can take it!
  • Head Bangs – 1 (I must have used the loo here a 1000 times since I moved in and yet today, when I was in a rush and very much wishing I was still in bed, I whacked my head on the wall above it for no apparent reason. I swear it’s a miracle I have any brain cells left).
  • Mr K’s Location – Canada. Just! The Plan: Singapore then Thailand and then London Baby! I’m thinking of making a ‘Where’s Mr K’ App, on a par with the ‘Where’s Santa’ ones but I fear that’s a tad stalker-esk!
  • Work Update – So I finally have a job, that much is know, it’s a 6 month contract on a rather dry topic at a bank (yes I know I said I wasn’t scatty about going back to a bank but this way I can replenish the travel fund with maximum speed and also get to work on my professional skills in a ‘cutting your teeth’ kind of way). As of 18:20 tonight I was still waiting to hear if I’d passed all the background screening and could start on Monday (yes they were scraping it fine). I then received a call saying they had one more piece and I could likely start Tuesday. Talk about unorganised! Granted I’ve lived in something like 8 houses in the past 6 years (the period for which they screen), have been unemployed for almost 2 year (which means I need to give proof of what I was up to every 3 months) and MIA for at least 15months of that, oh and I have 2 surnames (thanks Mum) BUT I still don’t get why the screening is taking so long, despite all of that I’m probably the dullest, cleanest, most innocent and prudent’est person they’ve ever employed! Ai-yah!
  • Next Steps – Hopefully catch up with an old, old friend tomorrow and then go to the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition tomorrow. Sunday um….Monday um….iron for the first time in 2 years? Tuesday (with any luck) work followed by a haircut (excellent timing!). Fingers crossed!!
Apparently these owls are famous

Apparently these owls are famous

Not your standard graffiti - this stuff is world-class!

Not your standard graffiti – this stuff is world-class!