04 July 2007

Fingers Crossed!

Keep your fingers crossed for me! I had two interviews today. The first one went really well, and the company says that they are very interested in hiring me. We'll see what comes of that. The second interview, which is for the job that I actually want out of the two, went so well that before I even left the room I was asked back for a second interview! My recruitment agent Jane rang me to say that the interviewer was totally impressed with me and thinks that I'd be perfect for one of the roles she was considering me for. I'm so excited! The benefits package is brilliant.

Between interviews Jane rang me to say that one of the law firms she had passed my details to for a legal secretary position actually wants me to come in for an interview for a paralegal position! Wow, that would be great! I really do like the firm I interviewed with today though, but I'll go see what they have to say.

The day wasn't perfect though. I was late to the first interview because of traffic (only by about five minutes though), and when I went round a roundabout the sat nav I borrowed from my ex-husband came unstuck, flew off the window and cracked the screen. I've now used a chunk of my savings to replace it, which I didn't need right now. Still, I was considering buying one since I'll have a new city to learn to get around, and the broken one can be fixed so I'll just have it for myself.

Now it really does look like just a matter of finding a place to live because a job will come sooner rather than later. We called into a letting agent's office today, and that was a bit of a laugh. She doesn't have any three bedroom houses or flats, but she does have a two bedroom penthouse she says is a bargain! From a council house in Chesterfield to a penthouse flat? I think that would be culture shock of the highest degree!

28 June 2007

Eventful Week

I can't say that this week has been boring. It started off with a bang (of sorts) with two interviews for jobs on Monday. I actually never showed up for the interview I went down there for in the first place because I went to an appointment at an agency and ended up freaking them out. In a good way, of course.

It's a recruitment agency who has contracts with some of the top law firms in that city.* The woman I spoke to on the phone when I was making the appointment sounded like she was interested in seeing me, but didn't seem all that enthusiastic. That seemed to change once I got there. The first thing they had me do was take a typing test. I took it, the results printed off, and one of the girls in reception looked at me funny. She said that I would have to take an audio typing test because of my typing test results. I took it, the results printed off, and one of the girls in reception looked at me funny. Sense a pattern here?

Turns out that my typing speed was 84 words per minute with a 1% error rate. My audio typing speed was 62 words per minute with no errors. That's what freaked them out. The average typing speed for the people on their books is - get this - 35 words per minute.
Suddenly people from various parts of the agency were coming in, giving me their business cards, and showing me jobs they'd like to put me forward for. I have one interview next week for a law firm who has said that they're keen to speak to me about two jobs, so much so that if I have any offers before I go in, I'm to let them know immediately so they can push my interview forward.

I had another interview with a different recruitment agency that afternoon, and they've got me an interview for the same day next week. Things are looking good, and the company where I work now is very supportive of me because they realise I'm not going because I want more money or am dissatisfied with the company but because I'm following David down there. Well, that's one of the reasons but I'm happy for them to latch onto that one.

I almost didn't make it back to Chesterfield Monday night. When we got to the train station so I could catch my 20.00 train, we found out that nothing was running north of Derby. David brought me home, then he got stuck in Chesterfield because the town was flooded. Badly. The whole area has been flooding. He did make it to work on time the next morning but he had to set off at 6.30 just to get out of Chesterfield.

Chesterfield didn't fare very well yesterday when one of the grocery stores in the town centre caught fire. It's smack in the middle of a busy shopping precinct as well. The smoke was so bad we could see it from our office, and when I got home I discovered that my house was in the smoke path. Yuck.

As for work ... Let's not go there. My desk has enough paper on it from the week I was away that I'm sure it's an entire tree!

*I'm still not revealing where I'm moving to in public though will be happy to tell my true friends where I'm heading. Obviously it's south of Chesterfield but that's all I'm saying for now.

22 June 2007

Hi Honey! I'm Home!

Oh my goodness, what a fabulous week I've just had! David and I took off for a week in Tenerife - a week of absolutely grueling work laying by the roof-top pool with views of mountains on one side and the ocean on the other while drinking beer, reading and working on our tans. Of course I added to that by jumping in the pool occasionally. In the evenings we kept on working by walking along the beach, eating fabulous meals and drinking in Spanish bars.

I didn't even take time off last weekend. I sat in the Sports Cafe in Las Americas drinking amaretto and Coke while watching the US Grand Prix. That is unbelievably hard work! We played pool in there another night, only the third time I've ever really played. Of course I lost to the shark (bastard!) but he had to admit that I'm better than he thought I would be so I just need to practice. He claims I'll never beat him though. Yeah, we'll see about that ...

The only day we didn't spend by the pool was on Wednesday when we jumped on a boat in search of dolphins and/or whales. We were told we were guaranteed to at least see whales but we were really lucky and saw a large school of dolphins. They have never been hunted in that area so they came right up to the boat!

I had tried to hide a secret from David but in the airport on the way out my secret was out. We were in the departure lounge when it was announced "Could passenger Knowles travelling to Tenerife please go to the Special Assistance desk?" Well that was it. For the rest of the trip David told me I couldn't help it if I have special needs and that it's good to be special! (Don't you laugh, Lindsey! He's decided you have special needs too which is why you and I get on so well!) Obviously it wasn't me they were calling to the desk but a different passenger who was on crutches, but I've been branded for life now!

I have to highly recommend the hotel where we stayed, the Costa Adeje Gran. It was beautiful! Okay, the entertainment in the evenings was more amusing than spectacular, but it gave us a laugh. One of the lounge entertainers sang "It's a Wonderful World" by Louis Armstrong in a voice that sounded more Yoda or Fozzie Bear than Louis Armstrong, so David and I decided that they were playing our song, but it only counts if Fozzie Bear sings it!

We do have a few photos that I will post as soon as I can get the cable to David's camera (he left me the camera but my cable doesn't fit it). I will edit one of the photos so I can post it. The first full day we were there I forgot to top up my sunblock on the backs of my thighs after I'd been sitting down for a while, so when I flipped over I got a bit of a burn which was hysterical after I took my bikini off. My ass was bright white and my legs bright red!

So we had seven days of hard work but we must be a pair of workaholics because we've decided to go to Portugal later this year and do it all over again! Since I hope to be doing LOTS of traveling over, well, the rest of my life really, I've started a travel blog with a map and all that on it:

26 February 2007

What a Weekend!

Okay, I'm hooked. I was really enjoying watching the Six Nations on the telly, but now that I've actually been to a match ... You just can't beat seeing something live! And I'm thrilled to have been at a match where Italy had their first away win in the Six Nations. That first eight minutes of play is something I'll never forget!

I also made my first ever trip to Scotland. You'd think that having been in Britain for over nine years I'd have been there, but better late than never! I did get to see a few sites, though I didn't go for the sightseeing. I went for the rugby. But I'll never stop being a history nut, so it was great having a look around Linlithgow Palace and to catch a glimpse (albeit through drunken eyes) at Edinburgh Castle.

One very interesting experience was being in an Irish pub in Edinburgh watching England play Ireland. Needless to say there weren't very many England supporters in there! It was packed to the point of not being able to move, but I loved every minute of it.

On the way back to England we managed to catch up with my mate Pauline, which was wonderful! We chat online and text each other a lot, but you can't beat meeting up with some one face to face.

I didn't take my proper digital camera because, like I said, I didn't go for the sightseeing, I went for the rugby and didn't want to be out drinking with a big ol' camera around my neck. I did get a few pics with my camera phone though.

Linlithgow Palace
Linlithgow Palace - birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots

David at Linlithgow Palace

Linlithgow Church
The church at Linlithgow Palace

Linlithgow Palace
Linlithgow Palace

Pipes and Drums at Murray Field
The Pipes and Drums at Murray Field

Scotland and Italy
Scotland and Italy


21 February 2007

Rugby Weekend!

I'm making my first trip to Scotland this weekend! David and I are going to watch Scotland play Italy in the rugby Six Nations. I've only recently started following rugby, and I think it's fantastic. He says it's even better live where you get all the atmosphere, something that definitely is lacking when you watch on television. I'll also get my first taste of Edinburgh, somewhere I've always wanted to go, though I'll have to go back if I want to do all the touristy stuff like visit castles! I'm sure some pictures will follow after I sober up ...

06 February 2007

On the Threshold of a Milestone ...

My last day as a "thirty-something". The last few hours of the last day. And far from feeling apprehensive, depressed or worried that when I wake up tomorrow I will be 40, I feel content. In fact I feel better about myself and my life than I did when I turned 20 or 30.

A few people have commented to me that it's all downhill after turning 40. Why is that? It's just a number at the end of the day. I will be the same person tomorrow that I am today, the only difference being that I move up an age bracket. Life is what you make of it, and I've finally learned to make the most of it!

I was pleasantly surprised tonight to get a very nice birthday present from my ex-husband, his wife and the boys. The ex tends to be a bit practical where presents are concerned. For Christmas they got me a toasted sandwich maker, and for my birthday they gave me a coffee maker. How cool is that?

My best friend Michelle popped round this evening, too, and she brought me chocolates and flowers. Always a great present to give a woman, and entirely acceptable from one female to another (I can't see it going down very well if it were a man giving them to another man somehow, but then again I hate to stereotype).

I'm taking tomorrow of work as a holiday, which it is in a fashion. It's the anniversary of my entrance into the world, and I'm going to spend it just chilling out. Originally I'd planned to sleep late, do a lot of reading, maybe do some shopping and have a massage at the gym. Now I have to fork out for a new clutch for the Barbie Jeep, so the shopping and massage are out the window, but that's okay. Plans change. I can still go to the gym for the jacuzzi, sauna and aromatherapy room. And I can window shop instead of splashing out.

What I won't be surprised by is the phone call I will get from my parents and my father's comment that I'm old now that I've turned 40. And, giving my traditional response honed from past milestones, I will say "At least I don't have a 40 year old daughter".

25 January 2007

British Grand Prix 2007!

How excited am I? Last night I booked tickets for the British Grand Prix! Silverstone, here I come!

The other two times I've been I've gone general admission. That's fun, but I always wanted to have grandstand seats on the pit straight, so this time, that's exactly what I booked. I used to go to testing quite a lot (and I discovered that they're having testing there in June so might just go again!), and most of the time they let you sit in the pit straight grandstand so I know the view is great. You can see straight down into the pit lane and even some of the garages. I doubt there will be a screen to watch all the action on the rest of the track, but that's okay. I never managed to find somewhere in general admission where I could see a screen without getting terrible neckache anyway!

Now I've just got to get on the phone and scream at the Silverstone booking office. I bought two tickets, and they've charged me twice for them! How rude is that?

03 January 2007

It's All in the Attitude

For the past few weeks I've gone into work dreading having to deal with stroppy people and a manager who doesn't seem to know how to manage. I learned today that I've been going about it all wrong.

Yesterday had to have been the worst. The manager didn't listen to what I was saying when he asked me questions. I ended up arguing with someone working in a call centre in India. By the time I headed home, I had a splitting headache and a need to take out my frustrations on my DIY project.

This morning I told myself that I was going to have a great day at work, and guess what happened ...

My manager actually paid attention to my answers to his questions. He even approved my request for a couple of days holiday in July when I sent it to him and thought it was cool that I'm taking them off to go to the British Grand Prix. The garages and fleet managers I spoke to on the phone were all happy to send me the information I needed because I was pleasant and friendly. Okay, I'm always pleasant and friendly but I think my positive attitude came across down the phone.

Best of all, when I had to deal with the same call centre in India, I kept that pleasant and friendly manner when the stroppy cow at the other end started making threats. I kept my cool while she ranted and raved, and in the end I got the information I needed, and she finally realise that I was there to help her get the claim we were both working on settled. My co-worker who originally took the call (and passed it through to me because her blood pressure was rising) said that she couldn't have done it without putting the phone down on her. I think the thing that got to Jo most was when she told the other woman that she was through to the claims centre in Chesterfield and got the reply "Where the hell is Chesterfield?"

I learned another lesson today. Estate agents are total flirts. One of my fleets is made up of nothing but estate agents who keep crashing their cars or putting petrol in their tanks instead of diesel (do you realise how much it costs to fix a BMW after someone has misfueled it?). Compared to a stroppy cow in India they were a joy to talk to, and I got the biggest laugh when one guy was chatting me up when I knew he'd reported the claim after his wife crashed the car!

Work could become even more fun. They're trying really hard to hire new staff, but so far out of the last four people they've hired, I'm the only one who has lasted more than one day. Two rang up to quit before they even started. We were all asked today to pass on applications if we know anyone who might be interested in a job, and Donna has filled one out! How cool would it be if she worked there?

02 January 2007

DIY Project

I'm so proud of myself I just had to post a picture. My DIY skills are definitely improving! I've never put up a curtain pole by myself, but tonight I did it!

DIY Project

Okay, I know. It's no big deal putting up a curtain pole. But to me it's an accomplishment because I'd been procrastinating. I'm usually crap at doing stuff like that. I almost gave up once tonight because I thought I was doing something wrong. A long hot bath gave me time to come up with an idea how to fix it, and it worked.

And yes, I did iron the curtains before I hung them. It wasn't until I saw the picture and saw the shadows in the creases that I realised it didn't look ironed. I am not taking them down tonight to re-iron though ... I don't want to start swearing again!

Now I've just got to figure out how to install the new light fitting in the kitchen ... Best get some help with that one. I wonder if my dad is willing to fly over to lend me a hand. Then again, after he put the ceiling fan up in the living room in 1980, it took almost 20 years for him to wire it in properly.

01 January 2007

Happy New Year!

Well 2006 is a year that I definitely won't forget. It's brought many changes, and most of them have been changes for the good. For the first time in my life, I'm very content. That doesn't mean I'm complacent and expect life to be a bed of roses from here on out. Quite the opposite. I know there will be lots of downs in the future, but I know I can handle them. In a way I hit rock bottom this year with the lowest being in April and May, and I've come out on the other side smiling. There's no reason why I can't meet anything that life dishes out head on and keep smiling.

The most important change definitely has to involve the kids. At the start of 2006 all four of them were miserable. Malorie and Braden especially were suffering, being treated as slaves while I was trying to get to lectures and seminars and just get through my last year of university in general. Now we're in a new house with a new life. I was touched when Malorie told her friends that I've become more like a big sister to her than a mum. That didn't stop her from rebelling in November, but she had to learn on her own that life doesn't sort itself out just because you've thrown a temper tantrum.

Ricky and Jack are so much happier too. They're in a school that they like. Their old school was good academically, but they were treated as outsiders because of the small community. Now they're learning French, playing football, and involved in school assemblies. And they run back and forth between my house and their dad's constantly. The fact that Richard and I can sit down at the table for Christmas dinner together thrilled them to bits.

How am I celebrating bringing in the New Year? It's not exactly the New Year for me. That came in October with Samhain. But it's the start of a new calendar year, and while most of the people I know are out celebrating with their friends, I'm lucky enough to be at home with my two favourite little boys. (Braden is a big boy, and I wish he and Malorie were here too!) We've been playing board games and are getting ready to watch Little Britain. Right now they're feeding their faces yet again, probably celebrating the fact that they trounced me in the Game of Life.

I've told them that at midnight I expect big kisses from them. That brought a resounding "D'oh!" from the pair of them! But after midnight we're having a feast of bacon and fried egg sandwiches.

I can't even be upset that I can't drink tonight, seeing as how I've been "hired" as a taxi driver for the night by Richard and Donna. But I know who won't have a hangover in the morning!

I wish all of you a happy New Year, full of laughter and joy.


30 December 2006

My Goals for 2007

Yes, I decided that with less than two days to go until 2006 is over, I better think about some goals for 2007. Actually I've been thinking of them for some time, but they've been developing and now I think I'm ready to commit them to pen and paper. Well, keyboard and internet anyway! They might change because I'm still thinking about them and refining them.

1. Get a better (or at least more challenging) job. I'm grateful to have the job I have, and it's not the worst I've ever had. Unfortunately the pay is crap and the work is hardly intellectually stimulating. I'm planning on applying to the Probation Service when they have their recruitment period in March.

2. Get my house sorted! I still need a few essentials, like carpet, but all in all it's come along a lot faster than I thought. I just need to get off my ass and do the decorating!

3. Have a real holiday abroad. I needed to carry that over from 2006's goals since I didn't do it. I will ... eventually!

4. Work on the novel I always said I was going to write. So many ideas, so little actually work done.

5. Go to the British Grand Prix. No explanation required for this one, I don't think!

6. Find a physical activity to get involved in. Get your mind out of the gutter. I meant like finding a local Tae Kwon Do school or playing tennis or something like that!

7. Spend more time in mediation and ceremonies. I feel so much better about myself after I do, and I intend to make it a more regular thing, outside the Sabbats as well as do more preparation for special days on the pagan calendar.

8. Save up for a special sporting event in 2008. I'd always said I wanted to go to the Australian GP, so that's one option.

9. Stay on top of the bills. I've been doing great, and I want to keep up the good work!

10. Stay strong. 2006 was a year that taught me a lot. I went from being a wimp who made bad choices to a strong person who thinks things through. I don't do things just because I think I have to anymore. I do things because I want to do them. I've really learned to stand up for myself, and more importantly, that I really like myself.

11. Write more in my personal journal and Book of Shadows. I haven't been doing too badly with my Book of Shadows but my personal journal is a bit hit-and-miss. I like keeping a journal though because I look back at it and see how I grow as a person.

27 December 2006

Christmas Pics!

I had a fabulous Christmas! I got to spend it with the boys, had a good laugh with Richard and Donna, and enjoyed being totally chilled with David. Now that is what Christmas is all about! It was one of the best Christmases of my adult life! The only one more memorable would have to be 1997 when I had a two day old baby and an 11-month-old celebrating his first Christmas.

Donna and Richard
Richard and Donna ready for a night out on Christmas Eve

Super Ricky
Super Ricky!

Jack coming downstairs to see what Santa brought

Ricky wasn't quite awake ... but it was 2 am!

He eventually woke up properly and got into the spirit of the occasion.

Donna and Ricky
Donna and Ricky



Ricky and Jack
Ricky and Jack

24 December 2006

Happy Holidays!

Another Christmas Eve is here, and the massive build-up to Christmas that started before Halloween will be over in a flurry of torn wrapping paper in less than 24 hours.

But this Christmas has been very different for me. Yes, I've bought the presents, wrapped them, and put them under the tree. My season started earlier this month with Yule, and instead of a sharp peak the morning of the 25th, I've enjoyed a steady celebration of a season instead of a blast of one day's festivities.

I will enjoy tomorrow, there's no doubt about that. I'm spending the night with my boys at their dad's house tonight and will get to see them wake up and open their presents in the morning. I'll share a few drinks with Donna while we cook the Christmas dinner (with me dashing back and forth between our two houses), and hopefully I'll be quite merry by the time the turkey is served. What's not to look forward to there? It'll be interesting to see just how many lewd jokes Richard's Uncle Eric tells, but you can't be around Richard without hearing them so there's not a lot of difference having two of them playing at being comedians. David and I also have plans for Christmas night and Boxing Day that I've really been looking forward to!

What I've already enjoyed is reflection over a few weeks of Yule ceremonies and candle lighting. I feel content, not rushed. I've enjoyed a couple of conversations online with Pauline and Don, two of my dearest friends. For the first time I can remember, I'm relaxed on the 24th of December.

That is apart from the housework I'm trying to make up for after two days of being a bit sore from my encounter with a white van driver ... But hey, even he wished me a Merry Christmas!

23 December 2006

Oh My ...

Every now and then it's just one of those days when you know you would have been better off staying in bed all day. It's been one of those days for me!

The Christmas driving curse that seems to strike my family hit me today. A few years ago, for two Christmases in a row, in fact, my mother was in car accidents a couple of days before Christmas. She was fine, and neither was her fault, but it started the standing joke about how she shouldn't get out in the run-up to Christmas.

I didn't know the "curse" was going to jump the Atlantic and strike me! I'd been having trouble with my jeep lately because of the extreme cold. Once it warms up its fine, but for a while it makes the most awful noise. So today during my dinner break, I thought I'd take it home and borrow one of my ex's cars so that I wouldn't run the risk of it totally breaking down on the side of the road after work when it was dark.

I stopped for a red light at a roundabout, and BANG! A white van slammed me from behind. How he missed that turquoise jeep stopped in front of him I'll never know! He got out, saw that there was absolutely no damage to either vehicle, wished me a Merry Christmas and took off. The traffic was so heavy I never even got a proper look at his number plate. How many people have said to me "You should have got his vehicle registration number"? Considering what I do for a living, I know I should have, and I did try to! I was a bit shocked by the impact, and what I did get of his number plate vanished in the haze that my brain was experiencing.

I felt fine, headed home to finished what I'd left work to do in the first place, sent a text to someone saying I'd been rear-ended on the dual carriageway, and went back to work. That's when the aches started. Seems I've been given a nice case of whiplash for Christmas. It's not just what I always wanted! I'm fine though. The doctor checked me out, told me off for not going straight to casualty (I felt fine for the first hour or so after it happened), said it was just muscular with nothing broken, and prescribed me some tablets that are going to make the next few days more fun than I could have imagined!

I should have had the afternoon off anyway because we were only scheduled to work until noon with the rest of the day off with pay, but I volunteered to work the full day to get the time and a half. Well, I almost made it through the afternoon!

Tonight I went round that same roundabout on the way to Tesco without incident. I wish I could say going shopping had been incident free, but at one point I lost Jack in the masses of people who had the same idea of waiting until after 10 pm to go in.

And what makes people who, the rest of the year are nice, normal people, suddenly become rude and ignorant because it's a few days before Christmas? It's like they lose all sense of common courtesy once they're in control of a shopping trolley! One woman in a fur coat blocked an aisle for so long it created a back up I can only compare to trying to get off the M1 at Meadowhell!

Now I've had my whinge, the kids are in bed, and I'm going to wrap more presents! It's Jack's birthday tomorrow, and he's already itching to start opening them all!