I'm not too sure that being off work is good for me.
Since I finished at Barclays earlier this year my Joe decided to give me the biggest scare of my life, I sprained my knee trying to get Merlin the cat out of neighbour's garden and this weekend I tore my calf muscle (according to Altrincham General hospital) - though I think it's just a strain.
I followed doctor's orders to the letter (for a couple of hours) - and I'm now back on both feet, though with a Long John Silver-esq look to my walk.
Today I took a huge step. I have booked a couple of estate agents to come and value the house. I'm also in the process of booking a couple of viewings for properties in Wales, next week.
The thought of hills, streams, trees (and Welsh rain) is driving me nuts along with the idea of NO MORTGAGE.
Out of the whole of North Wales there are only a small number of properties that fit the bill. Somewhere rural. Off the beaten track (but not too far from civilisation). With parking. With views. Enough space for visitors and the family Christmas dinner. With enough garden for me to potter about in. Enough room for the dogs to run riot. Not too close to the seaside and all that that brings (kiss me quick hats, bucket and spade brigade etc.). And finally - close enough for us to pop back to see family.
In other news: I didn't get an interview with Rolls Royce submarines. To be honest - it's a relief.
In the rest of the news: I've taken on the task of de-antiquing an old nursing / bedroom chair. I have no idea what I'm doing. So far I've managed to flick old furniture tacks all round the kitchen (whilst trying to remove some rather fetching, leatherette from the back).
Curious George had a distressing moment last night when he flew out of his litter tray with poo on his paws. It was quite distressing for Stu too (my calf muscle picked that precise moment to cause so much pain I couldn't get off the sofa) - as he managed to stand in poo before he managed to capture George and clean up.
So that's it for now. Life - but not as we know it.
Today's photo: the chair (and if it turns out shit once I've refurbished? You won't see it again).
I know - I said I wasn't going to look for any comms contracts right now.
But when I get a call about a potential 12 month contract with Rolls Royce Submarines...what am I supposed to do?
So - my CV is going in.
I probably won't get to interview. But I might. And if I do? The role is based in Derby. Which of course I had to Google.
So - it could potentially mean 12 months of travel and overnight hotels / AirBnbs. Or maybe even a rented apartment.
But let's not jump the gun.
In other news I get to see Will.I.Am on Sunday. Quite looking forward to that. Might just dress in some fancy duds (sunglasses, hat, and snazzy kicks) - anyone?...
And in other, other news - this Friday my youngest sister is making a big move from Altrincham to Mossley. I will be lugging boxes and furniture downstairs (then up again at her new flat). So I might just be in a wheelchair when I get to see Will.
And in the other, other, other news - Curious George the kitten has grown. And is even more adorable. I am awoken most mornings with him sniffing and pawing my face.
He's cute. He can get away with it. Stu on the other hand...STOP IT.
Today's picture? Just George doing his thing...
For me and my Stu Autumn and Winter mean holidays.
And as a result it's a pretty crap time for me to be actively looking* for a new contract. So maybe I should just resign myself to that fact and sit back, enjoy the hols and start looking again in February.
This month I'm off to spend three nights in a yurt in Wales. With my big sister. We're aiming for blue skies, autumn colours, log fires and melted marshmallows. And not a great deal more.
Then in November it's the second wedding anniversary trip to Grundarfjörður (a small town in the north of the Snæfellsnes peninsula, in the west of Iceland). Eight days of authentic Skyr, peace, stunning scenery, the best-looking horses in the world, ice, waterfalls, high winds, biting cold, mountains, glaciers, hot springs and, fingers crossed, orcas, snow and green skies.
Then before you know it, it'll be Christmas. This year I did the majority of the present shopping in September. That is some result. Much better than my packing-for-holiday skills. Which leave a lot to be desired.
January brings a trip to Norway. Where we're hoping for some serious snow and many nights of green. And where we're guaranteed stunning scenery, peace, solitude and the occasional reindeer and moose passing by the cabin.
As it's already October and with all the holiday interruption between now and early February I think I'm right to quit the job search for now. Maybe. Might just have another little sneak peak...
*Actively looking: A quick flick through LinkedIn at the end of each day.
The perfect holiday: snow, cabin and green skies (Norway Jan '17)
I'm not counting - but I think I have been out of contract for at least three months now.
I had a call from an agency this week - "we have a contract in London, initially to April 2018, working on a ring-fencing programme - corporate finance".
No part of that call appealed to me. It was a thanks, appreciate the call...but no thanks.
I would happily consider a call for comms roles that don't involve Tubes, Financial Services and Pendolinos. Maybe somewhere leafy and green, with nice cute comms messages that need writing - and the only ring-fencing is for sheep / horses / cows / chickens etc.
Anyway - not ready for the corporate world again just yet.
Last week my gorgeous blue boy Merlin died. I know - he was only a cat. But he was the boss. And over his last few weeks he caused a lot of worry and heartache. He was such a character: moody, grumpy, noisy, bossy, not at all cuddly and extremely fussy. In other words - the feline version of me :). I miss him so much. But at the same time it is a relief. I couldn't bear seeing him lose weight, lose his balance and strength and stop eating.
Life without a cat is awful. Even for a day or two. Merlin left a big hole in our lives. So we got a kitten. A British Shorthair - not blue this time (I didn't want a 'replacement' Merlin) - who is a rather lovely Black Smoke. Kind of smokey grey / black tabby.
Merlin would have hated him. Guaranteed.
Kitten is called George. Curious George. And so far he is the polar opposite of Merlin.
When we chose Merlin (he was the last available kitten in his litter - but weren't we the lucky ones!) we were told he was a lap-cat. Which was a downright lie. Merlin didn't sit on laps for at least the first 12 years of his life. He was far too grown-up and aloof for that.
I was told the same about George - he is a floppy, cuddly lap-cat. Haha I thought. Sure he is.
Well...she wasn't wrong! He loves company. He loves cuddling up. He loves snuggling right into my neck. He knows his name. He comes when he's called.
He's a little terror. But so much fun. He makes me smile. Like a loon. He's by my side now - watching what I am doing. Any second now he'll be on the keyboard (makes a hasty Save).
In other news this week - I completed my SA tax return. Of course HMRC don't know I have just HAD to buy a new BSH kitten. And due to new changes on Dividend tax...they wanted some money. Lots of it. And not only that - they want me to make payments on account for this year too. Double bloody whammy.
And then they dropped a bloody atomic bomb in today's post. It seems I made a minor error on my 2015/16 return. And they have decided I owe an additional £900 for that year too. And as I scanned the letter in open-mouthed shock - I spotted that I have already accrued interest on the amount that I didn't know I owed until I opened the post this afternoon.
Not only do I not want to work in a corporate world anymore - I want to go off-grid!
On the up-side - I have done nearly all of my Christmas shopping - just three presents left to buy. Suck on that Mr HMRC - you will not ruin my Christmas. Though January is going to be pretty shit.
Anyway - if anyone was even contemplating asking me for money: it's probably best you don't. I will weep....and then hyperventilate. The Bank of Debbie is done. Caput.
Curious George learns "what happens when I pull this?.."
Two months - that's how long I've been 'resting' and 'taking time out' from contracting. It feels far longer.
I'm also at a loss to understand what I have done with those two months. Apart from worry about Joe. And help Stu make a fence. Built a website. Browsed Iceland websites. And have a tattoo.
Oops. Just casually threw that in there.
Yep. I finally plucked up the courage. I am now the proud owner of a sore arm. Which I am fastidiously bathing in warm soapy water and moisturising regularly.
I have pondered the idea of a tattoo for years. This was no snap decision. I decided on what I wanted years ago. A bluebell. For very personal reasons.
Anyway. It's done. In a place that can be hidden for work. Though it did dawn on me in the middle of the night that I can never work in the summer again. As clearly short sleeves won't work! You'd have thought that I would have thought of this before - given the length of time I have been working the idea through in my obviously cottonwool brain.
But - I've done it. And I am not going to be ashamed or worried about people seeing it. I am going to own my arm.
I've come out of the tattoo closet.
And here it is... (looks WAY larger than it is in real life)
The plastic whale - seen it?
It's awful. Intestines full of plastic preventing it from feeding. So it died. And we did that.
Facebook is full of horror stories and advice. I for one always carry a Paperchase shopping bag with me - so I can refuse the 5p plastic bag when I shop. And I know a lot of people do similar.
And we're advised to stop buying single use plastics - bottled water being one and straws another. So we're all pottering around to the gym etc with our water flasks and refusing straws with our cocktails (anyone who knows me well will know I do neither of those things - gym or cocktails).
And then came the Facebook post about the dangers that lurk in your environmentally friendly water flask. Yep. You heard it here second.
Apparently - they harbour germs. Lots of them. So you might as well lick the toilet bowl apparently.
The germs mainly gather around the spout bit. Where you drink from. Because apparently we're all dirty buggers and don't clean them out properly.
So the advice given on this post?
This...(oh the irony)
Drink from a single use bottle with a straw.
Sod the bloody germs. I am going to do my part to save those darned whales!
Rant two - packaging
Yesterday I popped into Holland and Barrett to buy some Vit D. So apart from the hefty price (Boots is far cheaper), the packaging was ridiculous. The plastic bottle was huge - not even one-fifth full. Why not reduce the size? Or package in something more env. friendly?
Here's an idea - remember the old sweet shops - where you could buy a quarter of cop-cops in a paper bag?... "I'll have a quarter of Vit D and half a pound of Vit C with zinc please..."
And finally - Trafford Council
Recently our council have changed the rules about our full-size green wheelie bins.
Instead of a weekly collection of food and garden waste they have decided they won't take your garden waste anymore - unless you pay an annual fee of £40 (approx. - can't remember the exact amount!).
So...if you don't pay - they come weekly and empty that tiny bit of food waste that is at the bottom of the the bin.
And if you do pay - you get a sticker. Which you have to write your address on and stick on the lid of your huge green wheelie bin - which, in our case, sits in the entry (ginnel, snicket, vennel, wynd, twitten) behind the house along with all the neighbour's.
So - we now have a sticker. Highly visible to any neighbour who chose not to pay and who could well decide to dump their garden waste into our bin.
And woe betide anyone who puts garden waste in the bin and who hasn't paid. The bin won't be emptied...so all that food waste will simply stay there and attract flies.
The council advice for those who have garden waste but don't want to pay to have it removed? Take it to the local tip.
What I hadn't considered (and not entirely sure the council did either) is those on low incomes (etc.) who can't afford the £40 and who don't drive. What do they do?
In a recent case - one such person was advised by a council rep to buy one of their compost bins for her grass cuttings. Two things here - grass cuttings don't compost well on their own...and 'buy' a compost bin? Like with money? That she doesn't have? Jesus.
I give up.
The world has indeed gone mad.
Have I written a post about the effects of being 50?
As I am over 50 now...I don't trust my memory. So I can only apologise if I am repeating myself.
Seriously though. WTF? Why does IT conspire against anyone over the age of 50?
I can no longer type letters in the right order. My iPhone autocorrects to the most bizarre words. And I have gone from being relatively IT literate to...well almost as bad as my Mother!
And the memory thing. The thing I hate most...is that 'glazed-over' expression people get. When it suddenly dawns on you that you've told them this thing before.
My pal Mandy-Lee has the best solution. She butts in really quickly. And lets me know she's heard it before. Of course if anyone other than close friends or family did that to me I'd be mortified. Caught in the act of...acting my age.
This post is going nowhere. As I have clearly forgotten the point. FFS.
(I am not yet at the age of forgetting all my passwords. Anyone got any idea when that happens? I don't want to wake up one day and they've all gone from my mind! I need some forewarning)
Here's to being another year closer to 60.
Today's photo: me before the age of social media, iPhone's, laptops, Apple music, CDs and when motorbikes were built like sofas. And when I clearly didn't give a crap about having a double chin. And I drank tea from a really scummy looking roadside cafe.
I'm enjoying my pretend retirement far too much. If I could just find a way to make money appear out of nowhere...
I've just ruined that moment for myself as, for some reason, my brain just chose right now to remind me that I need to do my self-assessment tax for last year. Thanks a bunch brain.
Probably the mention of making money appear out of nowhere. That was the trigger.
Let's put that little irritating thought to one side.
This week was my first Rock the Frock shoot. A full on day of hair, make-up and trying to 'find the light' on Dunham park and amongst some very old gravestones in Bowdon.
The light. So darned troublesome. Dappled light through the trees. Looks gorgeous in real life. Then when you view the images on the big screen you realise that the model's face is completely washed out and over-exposed. Or as the trees swayed at precisely the wrong moment - all in the shade apart from the nose.
I did learn a lot. And loved every minute.
My next shoot is booked in for September. This time we're hoping to head to Formby beach. My fingers are crossed for the perfect weather, a sunset and low-tide. Not too much to ask?
Next time I am going to do my best to keep the model awake...
I'm a tad grumpy.
I have a cold. In summer. While I am taking time off.
So instead of taking long walks I have been Netflixing. And sneezing. And sweating. And sleeping.
And my bloody photography website has decided to disappear off the bloody web thing.
And I have just spent an hour trying to get my head around the dark art of advanced DNS settings and DNS types and destinations and christ knows what. And to make it worse...I probably won't know for 'up to 24 hours' if I have done it wrong.
Basically I feel like shit. But on the up-side everybody's birthdays are this week. So I have a fancy dress party to go to and a Sunday afternoon BBQ / buffet (weather dependent) to host. With a stinking cold.
And while we're on the subject of weather (don't split hairs..it got a mention)...what the crap is going on there? Firstly, we've been promised storms several times over the past couple of weeks - and we've had precisely two claps of thunder. And then the showers. From gorgeous blue skies - washing on the line - to seconds after the last peg is applied...the heavens open.
Of course...once you have rescued the washing...dumped it in the drier...and sat back down to Neflix....the sun is out again. In it's full glory.
Give me snow. At least in the winter I don't ever kid myself that the washing is going to be line-dried.
On a completely different subject. It is confirmed that Tilly (Border Collie no.2) hates my singing. She is fine with anything professionally recorded and played through the Sonos. But as soon as I start to sing...she howls. Whilst I'd like to think she's joining in...I suspect that she is actually just extremely stressed and distressed.
I don't have many photos on the MacBook. As for some reason my Photos are not linking to my Photos on the iMac. That little issue is for another day's Google.
But as there are no photos on here...today we simply get to see this...my box of snot rags.
Firstly an update on the vitamin B12.
After several nights of extremely vivid dreams, including one night where I scared the bejesus out of Stu when I climbed on top of him 'to get away from the man that's just walked past my side of the bed', I've stopped taking it.
But that man was real. He was there. I tried to hit him with the duvet.
We slept the rest of that night with my bedside light on.
I stopped taking the ginseng a few days ago - I thought it was one tablet too many.
Anyway - we're rushing towards the end of July. We're almost over the hump and rushing towards weekend. Only weekend is winter. Our favourite.
So far we have flights booked for Iceland in November and we have a FB messenger agreement with Anna Julia Skuladottir, that we'll be staying for a week in her new cube cabin.
This week we have been looking at dates for Norway. And it looks like we may be heading back to that amazing cabin in Skarstad. The one with the big windows, passing Reindeer and the occasional Moose.
One thing I have learned - be very nice to your AirBnb (or similar) hosts. You can save a fair amount by dealing with them direct for any subsequent visits (and from what I can gather - they save too). To be honest - it's not hard to be nice to either Anna (Iceland) or Kent (Norway). Lovely people with the best cabins ever.
But I didn't tell you how to break AirBnb rules.
Today's picture...My Stu: At Borgarvirki, North of the Wall.
Travelling tip: Don't go to this place in deep snow: it's a long slow drive, the road is invisible at certain points and when you get there you can't see a damned thing, other than snow.