Sunday, 23 January 2022

Week 3 2022 One Daily Positive and Project 365

I had my first time in a small space with mostly strangers in a village hall for a party and not wearing a mask. First time I've done something like this in a long time. We did attend a wedding in June but it was socially distanced and masks were worn in the church and an outdoor garden reception. The wedding disco was held a few months later, but in a large and well ventilated hotel and most people enjoyed the summer sun on the terrace outdoors. 

I've not been feeling well all week since eating a donut last Friday and birthday cake on Saturday. I never had stomach issues before with wheat, only migraines, but I've had a bloated belly and indigestion. I won't be doing that again.

Kitchen installation in its 3rd week, but to be fair we've stripped it right back, had new electrics and lights, plumbing and plastering done. The back wall is finished and the base units are all fixed in place.

15 Saturday Neighbours 2 year olds birthday party in a village hall, lovely afternoon and I got to meet some new people. I decorated and iced cakes and biscuits and helped set up and tidy away.


16 Sunday We took Child 1 out for a Sunday lunch and purchased the wall tiles for the kitchen.

Presents from child 1 for us, her brothers and niblings.


17 Monday Early start for my job interview, they telephoned within an hour of me leaving to offer me the post, subject to DBS check and references. Will start sometime mid February. I walked home via the coffee shop. Nothing happened all afternoon other than watching the TV. Negative LFT.


18 Tuesday I spent the morning with the DBS check and submitted my self assessment tax return, then took Bob for a walk up the hills with a friend and her dog and sat outside for a coffee.


19 Wednesday I walked to the laundrette with my trolley, very impressed. Washed, dried in an hour and al for £6. Did some blogging, paid some bills, made some birthday cards and wrote letters. Negative LFT.

Everyone loves the colour, however this is just the protective film and we keep wishing we'd gone with this colour now.


20 Thursday Off to Gloucester to meet DIL and grandchild for some lunch and shopping.


21 Friday Another trip to the laundrette with the towels for the past 2 weeks, rest of the day spent pretty much the same as Wednesday. Chips and wine in the evening with friend and then kept awake late into the night after a 999 call to report criminal damage at a property opposite.

I've rediscovered my love for toasted sandwiches


On the blog this week:

Everybody has good neighbours? Don't they? Well we do.

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Friday, 21 January 2022

Post Comment Love 21st-23rd January 2022

Welcome back to #pocolo with Stephanie from Lifeat139a and I. It's a weekly linky where you can link up and share any post you've written this week.

It's been a good week for me. I was offered a job at a local secondary school, I start mid February. 

Work is progressing on the kitchen, we've been managing with the microwave, gas stove and the slow cooker and occasional use of the neighbours oven. I have been offered the use of two neighbours washing machine, but I visited the local laundrette on foot with my shopping trolley to get everything there and back. Took an hour and cost £6 plus everything was dry.

I had a trip to Gloucester to see our DIL and grandchild for a wander around the shops yesterday, always good to spend time with family.

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Thursday, 20 January 2022

Does everyone have good neighbours?

I mention my neighbours a lot. The ones to the right we only met in January 2020 when I moved back to the UK, I've borrowed their lawn mower, had my sofa stored in their garage for several months and they looked after the cat for 3 months and had the dog for a few nights. My other neighbour lives 2 doors down on the left and we've known each other since 2002, her and her husband came out to Dubai in March 2020 with me, just before lockdown hit. She's kept an eye on the house, walked the dog, shopped for me when I didn't have a car and within the rules has been my main person of contact with for social distanced garden visits with wine and chips on a Friday night.

When I mention my neighbours (or should that be friends) people quite often respond with 'I wish we had good neighbours' I just assumed everyone did.

In my first house when my kids were young, we relied on the neighbours for everything. From baby sitting to food shops, to lifts, to being looked after when we were ill to nights out in the local pub and I'm still in touch with them today, watching their families grow and spending time together.

But it's always been a two way thing, not all one sided and I think good neighbours are definitely a two way thing. We've shared the good and the bad from births, deaths, marriages to lending each other dining room chairs on Christmas morning. Helping with parties, loans of washing machines, lifts to work when the car has been off the road, childminding and just providing a listening ear over a cup of tea or a bottle of wine.

I'm actually visiting a former neighbour next week while she's at work and the kids are in school to watch a movie she recorded for me over Christmas on Sky TV.

Do you have good neighbours?

Saturday, 15 January 2022

`Week 2 One Daily Positive Project 365 - New Kitchen and issues.

A few things have irritated me this week. I'm easily irritated, but I'm no where near as stressed as I used to be, mainly because I'm irritated by things in the UK and I'm in the UK to be able to deal with things easily.

When we ordered the kitchen the appliances were chosen for us based on availability, it now appears the order wasn't placed until this week and guess what? Up to 12 weeks for delivery. So we've changed the cooker hood, hob and oven for ones that are available within the next few weeks and we'll keep our current fridge/freezer in the conservatory for 4-6 weeks until the integrated ones arrive. Thankfully our builder is one of our oldest friends so we're fairly relaxed about it all.

We also got our deposit back from the tenant who absconded in October. The rental agents really needed chasing up and I'm still battling with property management at the flat for the leak in another flat to be fixed as it's affecting our flat and we can't sell it until it's resolved and we can make repairs at the other owners cost.

I sold the washing machine this week. What's the best price? Does it work? Send photos of the inside of the drum and the drawer. It's 2 years old, hardly used, was £350 and I sold it for £80. I would rather donate goods than go through this palaver again.

I had a horrible encounter with a horrible man who wanted to sit next to me on a bench and when I said no, he said I was being silly, but I had no choice but to move me and the dog to another place, I said he was very selfish expecting me to move, he didn't care. People like him are the reason why we're still wearing masks and socially distancing.

8 Saturday Peter caught the train to London to meet up with an ex colleague who is over to settle his kids into Uni, I did some food shopping, tidied up a little, walked the dog and paid some bills. I drove to Worcester to my shift at the vaccine centre as it's a late finish and I didn't fancy the walk home from the station in the dark on my own.


9 Sunday Working 10-4, I caught the train in and Peter collected me and we stopped off for a late Sunday lunch on the way home. Evening spent completing application forms and submitting timesheets. 


10 Monday Peter and Simon got on with the kitchen, the floor tiles have been laid. I did some tidying up and popped out for a food shop to cook on the camping stove and pop in the slow cooker. Went for a walk with the dog, the neighbour and her two children with the hope of getting the older one to sleep. mission accomplished.

Washing up in the bath.


11 Tuesday Bob and I walked into town and had a coffee, Bob decided he wanted to walk to town via the Malvern Hills. Afternoon spent on the laptop and I got offered an interview at the school for next week.


12 Wednesday Early start to Monmouth to put the washing machine on in the flat and check on the work Peter has done in the bathroom. Dropped curtains with mum, called into see grandchild and dropped birthday gifts with a friend, had a socially distanced cup of tea, home late.

Mould growing back after we removed the plaster board, dried the wall out and replastered.


13 Thursday Boy next door turned 2, I called in with his birthday present and used their oven to bake fairy cakes for his party on Saturday. We had a Chinese for tea.

Making cake toppers.


14 Friday Kitchen cabinets arrived, the back wall has been installed minus the fridge and freezer, the rest will be put in next week, for now everything is being stored in the lounge. Used the neighbours oven to bake more gingerbread, cut out dinosaur icing shapes and then friend/neighbour joined us for our first weekly chip and wine night of 2022.

Housing units for fridge and freezer, I won't be able to reach the top shelves.



On the blog this week:

Reinventing my identity 


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Friday, 14 January 2022

14th - 16th January 2022 Post Comment Love

Welcome back to #PoCoLo with Stephanie from Lifeat139a and I. Great to see so many people back last week after our Christmas break. Great to see so many new bloggers also. We tweet out a weekly link, if you want a reminder, just let us know your twitter name and we'll add you to our list.

We'd also appreciate your help spreading the #PoCoLo word on Twitter, tag us and we'll RT. You can find us on twitter here: Stephanie - @LifeAt139a and Suzanne - @ChickenRuby 

We're in the middle of a new kitchen installation, which is going really well, other than a delay of up to 12 weeks for appliances, but we'll sort it and without kids, life is a lot simpler. 

I've got a job interview on Monday. I wasn't getting anywhere with applying for teaching jobs and whilst I've done some bits and pieces of work over the past few months, they've only been short term contracts.


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Reinventing myself after life as an expat.

In January 2011 we moved to South Africa, leaving 3 adult children in the UK and taking 2 with us.

I've moved a lot as a child and as an adult pre kids, and 8 years prior to our move abroad we'd moved to a new area with all the children, all still in school.

It's hard moving, not just the physical side but integrating often into a new school, neighbourhood, work place and knowing how things work and where things are. Sorting out new football clubs for the kids to join, finding out about swimming lessons and arranging play dates to help the move go smoothly are all time consuming and can be frustrating. 

Moving abroad is a whole different issue.

There were so many things I found out on arrival in South Africa, no amount of research or even a visit can prepare you for the reality of actually living in another country. Forget everything you know about how to do things and learn from scratch, financially, physically and mentally.

I went from Mother to 5, with a career and an OU course on the go, to a mother of 2, unable to study and prevented from working. It wasn't helped by lack of promised support from the company, the cultural differences, the safety aspect and my inability to work. Also the internet was slow, limited and endless power cuts. 

It took 9 months to settle in fully, then the following year the youngest child left home to continue their education in the UK, the following year, the last child left home and then suddenly with only 3 months notice we were unable to renew our visas, so we moved to Dubai.

On arrival in Dubai we had to relearn how to do everything, I didn't have time to deal with empty nest syndrome, I got a job at last, then left as my father died, I didn't have time to grieve, was too occupied with helping my mum move and dealing with a move of our own. 

I never settled into Dubai, it had taken so long to achieve in South Africa then it abruptly ended, I never thought it would be almost 7 years in Dubai, I made little effort settling as I thought it would end much sooner. Then the authorities blocked all voice over internet and I became cut off completely.

Then in 2021 we moved back to the UK full time, Peter retired. We were supposed to have another 18 months, but covid isolated us in different countries, so we moved our plans forward. 

We're back in our old home, but it's not familiar, no longer filled with 5 children, we're not using the community in the same way. Everything we knew is now different. Everything is done differently in the UK, not just only compared to Dubai, but compared to 11 years ago.

I'm still a wife, I'm still a mum, I'm also a grandmother twice over. But I'm struggling to work out just who I am all over again.

Peter and I have reconnected with friends, spending more time with family. We enjoy dog walks, outdoor life, seasons, gardening, coffee shops, the scenery, but I still need to find something for me. 

I'm hoping to enter the word of work again, not a career, I'm done trying to prove myself to others, there is no need for that, there never was, but I had to wait until I was 50 before realising this.



Saturday, 8 January 2022

Week 1 2022 Project 365 and One Daily Positive - Here's to 2022

Happy New Year to you all, whoever is still reading this.

I'm starting my 8th year of a photo a day. I started on January 1st 2015 when we moved to Dubai as a way to motivate myself to get up and do something everyday, after our hasty exit from South Africa when we were unable to renew our visas after 4 years.

Sometimes it doesn't feel like 5 minutes ago since we were here, in this very house. No longer are there 5 children here, but instead we've returned with a cat and a dog and gained 2 beautiful grandchildren. We've resumed old friendships and made new ones, we've settled into a routine of dog walks and coffee shops and lots of family time.

We're hoping to get to Australia this year to see child 3, who I last saw in August 2019. We have to wait till the borders open to tourists first.

Other plans include finishing the kitchen, then we're starting on an extension downstairs, revamping the garden and building a work shed and green house.

On a personal note, as I've grown older I've cared less about what other people think of me, it however hasn't stopped me passing judgement on other people (I don't necessarily hold that opinion) I know I'm not the only one, so don't go rolling your eyes at me.

I'm supposed to be working for a client next week, but the agency sent me the wrong shifts and locations. The client blamed me for not reading the rota correctly, rather than making excuses for the agency as I would've normally done, I just replied with the fact that I didn't make a mistake and I'm quite capable of reading a rota and sent them the email I was sent, copying in the sender to say I was not happy with being spoken to this way for someone else's mistake. Whether I work for the agency ever again will depend on their response.

1 Saturday A day of nothingness other breakfast, dog walk and a stop in the pub. Had sudden left sided hip pain, a bit of googling and search on twitter revealed it could be a side effect of the covid booster shot.

Forgot to make the bed until bedtime. The worst feeling in the world.


2 Sunday Friends came to visit for the afternoon, sadly their 3 month old granddaughter died last week, so incredibly sad. We talked, ate, talked some more. Simon is also the builder who is installing the kitchen. I've known Simon for 25ish years, Peter has known him for about the same time, but Peter and I only met 23 years ago. When I met Peter, Simon was building him an extension on his previous house. I used to provide respite care for Peter's daughter (now child 1) and Simon's other daughter who sadly died 13 years ago.

Time for a Baileys


3 Monday Off to get Peter's booster shot at the walk in clinic, stopped for coffee on the way home. Moved the fridge freezer into the conservatory, sorted through my Gran's photos and some paperwork, had a bath and watched TV while Peter went to the pub to watch the football.

Labelling my Grans old photos


4 Tuesday Kitchen packed and stored in the dining room, temporary kitchen set up in the conservatory. I kept the kettle/toaster/microwave and some crockery and cutlery to use over the next few weeks and everything else was packed up and stored in the dining room, which is now inaccessible. Peter went down to the flat to finish the work, other than cleaning, it's ready to go on the market soon. It took me all day to sort the kitchen, I was shattered.


5 Wednesday Kitchen work started, came to home to find everything out including all the floor tiles and all down the tip. Off into Worcester for 10am. It's much colder than it's been for a while. It was a 12 hour shift and a long day but I met some great people.


6 Thursday Prepped dinner in neighbours kitchen, then popped it all in the slow cooker, will take neighbours share round after work. Tided up and sorted through some paperwork, then caught the train to Worcester for a 6 hour shift.

My work station


7 Friday Went out looking for gas to fit our camping stove, cuppa with the neighbour and train to the vaccine clinic. Worked till 8pm. There's a job going at a local secondary school as a Teaching Assistant I'm going to apply for over the weekend. I'm not getting anywhere with applying for teaching jobs as I've been out of the UK system for 11 years, at least this way, I can get a foot in the door and start over again.

Worcester at night


On the blog this week:

Plans for 2022 - the kitchen will be finished next week so there's not a lot left to do.

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Friday, 7 January 2022

7th - 9th January 2022 - Happy New Year.

Welcome back to #PoCoLo with Stephanie from Lifeat139a and I. Hope you all had a lovely Christmas and New Year.

We spent it with child 2, his wife and their child, lots of yummy food presents and distanced visits with friends and neighbours.

This is a weekly blog linky, where anyone can link up any post on any subject they've written this week. All we ask in return is to share your post using the hashtag #pocolo, comment on the hosts post who you linked up with and at least one other. In return Stephanie and I will share your posts and leave a comment.

Hope 2022 is a better year for the world in regards to covid and we start to see the world open up a bit further. I'd love to be able to visit my 29 year old son in Australia this year. I last saw him in August 2019.

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Tuesday, 4 January 2022

Plans for 2022

Hope you had a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year however you chose to celebrate, or not.

We've been back in the UK full time now for 6 months. In that time we've settled back into our former home, spent as much time as we can with our adult children and their families and welcomed our grandson into the world.

For the past 11 years, our lives have been built around travel, with living in South Africa and Dubai and our family in the UK and later a child moving to Australia. Since covid I've made the trip to and from Dubai 4 times and to Belfast 4 times. Peter has only made 4 flights in total and one trip with me to Belfast also by Ferry. Peter would normally take 2+ flights per month, his were with work and now he's retired I'm not sure when we'll next get on a plane.

We rarely fly together, but we're looking forward to flying to Australia to visit child 3. I travelled out there in 2019 for 3 weeks, it's been too long now since we've seen him. 2 and a half years for me, almost 4 years for Peter.

I've turned down opportunities in Dubai for work and Peter wanted to travel with me to attend Expo 2020, but I doubt with the new variant and countries being placed on red lists all over the world, not just the UK, that those trips will be happening.

So while we wait for Australia to open its borders to tourists and things settle down again with covid, we need to find alternate things to do.

There will be more time spent with family and trips to Belfast when possible.

A new kitchen.

An extension.

New shed, green house and garden landscaping.

Plenty of decorating.

Long walks, camping trips, sporting events, reading, blogging, crafting and trips to the pub.

So what are your plans for 2022? Anything exciting to look forward to?


Saturday, 1 January 2022

Week 52 One Daily Positive and Project 365. Happy New Year

Work starts next week on the Kitchen, so house in disarray, however with just the two of us and 3 spare bedrooms we'll just have to remember where we put things if we need them while the work is carried out.

Apart from buying the kitchen and new appliances as they are integral, we've designed it ourselves and will be doing a lot of the work. We have a builder coming in to help with removal and tiling and Peter will be assisting with the fitting. The builder will organise an electrician and plumber to move the appliances, add new ceiling and under cupboard lights and finally move the light switch to the other side of the kitchen door. We've selected a light grey as it was end of line and is painted as well as a quartz worktop and the new floor tiles are sitting in the conservatory. 

359 Peter and I were awake at 7.30am. Small child and DIL came down at 9.30am and son was woken at 10am. We had breakfast then started on the gifts, which lasted most of the day. We ate around 2.30pm and grazed for the rest of the day. Neighbours popped round with gifts and we walked the dog. Son, DIL and grandchild left around 9pm as DIL has work in the morning. The most played with gift of the day was a cardboard box. We collapsed into bed around 11pm, absolutely shattered.


360 A day of nothing, other than taking the decorations down, tidying up and watching TV as well as a dog walk. Work starts on our kitchen next week so we needed to get everything packed away, so we can box up the kitchen items to store in the lounge while the work is being done. I started on a jigsaw sent by son no 4 and his family.


361 A leisurely morning then off to B&Q to buy floor tiles for the kitchen. Wrote my thank you notes, walked the dog, tidied gifts away and watched TV. 


362 Met a friend for an outdoor socially distanced visit near Blenheim Palace for a walk and a coffee. Stopping at Tewkesbury on the way home and evening spent sorting through family photos.


363 Peter went to the flat to finish more work on the bathroom. I spent most of the day in my pjs, walked the dog and went to the shops. I packed up some ornaments and rearranged the dining room to store most of the kitchen in while the work gets done, I started my first shift at the covid booster vaccination centre in Worcester, however when I got there 20 mins before I was due to start the centre had closed early. An 18 mile wasted round trip.

I'm going to be really glad when this kitchen is replaced.


364 A leisurely bath, dog walk, sorted photos on the laptop and a 2-10pm shift at the booster centre. Centre closed at 7.30pm and is closed tomorrow. I made a complaint about my rota and got a shitty email telling me I'd messed up the two centres, dates and times. Swiftly forwarded the email with my dates, times and locations to prove I was in the right and heard nothing back. No idea if I'm working in the New Year or not now.


365 Dog walk, blood test, outdoor coffee stop and a food shop. Watched Sydney celebrate New Year and felt sad knowing my son is over there and the only thing that is stopping us going over is travel restrictions due to covid. Both booster centres closed, afternoon spent watching movies and eating crap. We watched Dubai celebrate the New Year, really strange to see it on the TV and not just walk out in front of the villa to view it all. We might stay up for the New Year, we might not.


This completes my 7th year with a photo a day. 

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