Monday, 29 March 2010

Best cure for anxiety

After posting the blog on Sunday I decided to take matters about the angst into my own hands. It is not good to feel unsettled and powerless at the same time. So, I did some serious deep breathing, some calming thinking and then headed out into the garden with John. It was lovely and warm, bumble bees were waking up and creeping out of bed and everything has little buds on it.
We planted some potatoes, this year they are Maris Peer and Wilja. I also started work on the front bed, which is already looking nicer.
On the whole the weekend was great. It was quiet and we were at home and it seems like a long time since we have been able to potter.
John and I went to see "I Love You Phillip Morris" as well, and really enjoyed it.

The hospital has written to say that they are offering me a job in the Admin Bank, great news, so after Easter, when I know more about what is going on here, I can make a decision.

Sunday, 28 March 2010

sunday morning angst

My colleague and I have discovered that the owner of the company where we work has agreed to sell it to a large chain in the same industry. It has been an unsettling time as we have not yet been told that in less than two weeks the company will be owned by someone else. My boss is an odd woman at the best of times, but it is amazing to watch her prepare information about the company and take phone calls outside on the pavement and NOT tell her two staff of her plans. It is made harder by the fact that two years ago she agreed to sell it to my colleague and has always promised her first refusal if it were to be sold in the future. How did we find out? Mostly by surmising, but also by the fact that when the temp came into the office last week to work at the boss's desk, she found an open letter to the buyer up on the screen!!
I am feeling a bit shaky. I have long hoped that my colleague would buy the shop and I would continue to work for her. I like the business, despite the crabby people we occasionally have to deal with.
However, to add to the drama, I had a job interview at the Queen Victoria Hospital at the end of the week. Mainly for the Admin job bank, so this means fill-in jobs on an on call basis. There is though, a job going in Admissions that the head of the department wants to up-grade to full time and she talked me through that as well. I will have an answer from the hospital after the trip to Ireland.
This trip is looming as a real oasis in a rocky period. Being jobless short term if it comes to that is fine. Working part time is fine. Gillian has plans to set up alone and take me on part time as well, so who knows. What I do not like is knowing what I know and waiting for someone for whom I have worked hard and trusted to simply tell me the truth.

Friday, 26 March 2010


Andrea left on Thursday and it was sad to see her go. She and Hannah spent the day in London on Wednesday with the other exchange students and had a good, but tiring day. It gave me a nice warm glow to think that we were able to have someone here, someone new, from a different country and to be part of her experience away from home.
Now that she has gone I really want to settle and look forward to IRELAND which is only days away.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Culture vs shopping

Dreadful weather on Saturday, but we took Andrea to Wickenden's (which is due to close in September)...(see the face book link here, to East Court to see the Meridian Line and then to Crawley to shop. This was a good move, the Norwegian girls had done their homework on line and had identified certain items in certain shops and off they went!!
The verdict was that Primark was like Heaven!!
Bowling followed and then a quiet evening at home.
Sunday dawned grey, but turned into a brilliant day. We were to take the train to Brighton, but good old British rail was not running trains to the coast, only buses. I took 7 girls on the bus with me and we joined two more at the beach.
Here is the parental comment. Two of the girls did not appear to be all that happy. They were with their homestay family and I offered to take the lot all around the lanes etc. I asked one if she would like to come shopping with us and she said "No". The other one did not speak, but came with us. In the end I had 9 girls, three Norwegians, Hannah and two classmates and Em and a classmate and her sister. It was hard going with no one wanting to sit near each other at lunch. I would not allow it. I pointed out to the English hosts that it was their responsibility to look after their guests and when I got a moan about them not being sociable, I pointed out firmly that it didn't give the hosts the right to behave the same way!!!
After lunch I let them break off into 3 groups and then all of us could potter around at leisure.
The day ended with a fun bus ride home and I think everyone had a good time in the end.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Homestay bits and bobs

Our Norwegian homestay student is lovely. She is called Andrea and she is 14. Right between the girls in age, interested in the same music, TV and books and a friendly cheerful girl.
On her first night here we went to see Hannah in the Whisps Concert at Worth Abbey. Five schools, Worth, Hazelwick, Imberhorne (that's us!) St Pauls and Sackville get together annually and their orchestras play together, then each school performs. The Church was huge and the acoustics stunning. They played The Big Country by Jerome Moross and it was great. The rest of the evening was brilliant too, with incredible performances of songs from Les Miserables by St Paul's school students who were as good if not better than anyone we have heard sing to date.
Hannah enjoyed the experience, meeting new friends, working together and all eating a meal together before the show.

Monday, 22 March 2010

Anniversary and more

The 18th of March was our third anniversary in England. We left Hong Kong on 17th and flew into snow and daffodils.
It was my half day off that day, and after work I raced home, threw on a dress and hopped on a train to Victoria station. There I met up with a very dear friend called Victoria...and we spent a frantic 90 minutes bringing each other up to date on news. She works in the Antarctic in the British winter and only flies back for short bursts throughout the year. We are very good at talking very quickly so that nothing is left out! After that I caught the tube to Westminster and met John. We went to a reception at the Foreign Office for recent retirees. The Foreign Office is a grand old building with coloured tiles and painted walls and it was real treat to be in there, especially as it was a farewell to John and his colleagues and we are not likely to be going back. Drinks and canapes, lots of new people to meet and some I already knew. Very nice evening. We split a ham and cheese baguette on the way home and it was not a late night.

Thursday, 18 March 2010


Had a call from the Japanese boarding school today to let us know that they will be coming to 'vet' us next month. We have to show where the students will be sleeping and be interviewed and briefed about care.
I am a bit nervous! I do want it to work out for everyone, especially the girls concerned, ours and the two from the school.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Warm Sun

The last few days have been warmish...with sun. I went home for lunch today and John and I actually put the washing out on the line. Bosley was out rolling in the flower beds and it was so lovely I did not want to come back into the office...
I have some seed potatoes to chit and some bulbs to plant and am going to reorganise the flower bed at the front of the house this year. I like big showy plants like acanthus, but they were a bit too big for the space available last year. I think I want intense bursts of colour in clumps this looks good in my head, wonder how it will be in real life?

Monday, 15 March 2010

Survey results

We got the survey results back on the flat and it is ok. Not 100%, but then we did not think it would be. The outbuildings (sheds!) need some work, which we could see. The ceilings will need some work in the future, replacing maybe? and we need to ventilate it a bit better below ground level. I am still sure we can do all this and get a return, but will need to sit down with John and talk it through. One thing that surprised me is that it dates from the 1900's. So it is a Victorian conversion.
If the decision is not to go for it, I would be pretty ok about it as it is not for us to live in. But at the same time, I like the place. The only hassle is starting to look again. Not so easy from 350 miles away!
Mother's Day. Have never been a big fan as I think we love each other every day. However, the girls got me a lovely card and Sarah Water's latest novel so I was very spoilt. We went to T'Wells to shop and John worked in the garden. On the way home we bought him some snowdrops, galanthus elwesii and the galanthus nivalis. They look lovely.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Hectoring and Bullying

The letting industry is a service industry and that means being of service. It also sadly means being on the sharp end of many a tongue when people are not happy.
This is fine, it is part of the deal. But some people can try the patience of a saint with their demands, boorishness, arrogance and criticisms. One such delightful customer does not live in the country so we communicate by phone sometimes and email a lot. He is nothing but rude and bossy. I have just managed to get a legal case against him dismissed and today's email was to tell me that he WILL NOT accept the payment of utility bills while the house is empty. What does one say? The house was cleaned between tenancies, water was used, he pays. He is going to SORT THIS OUT when he gets back to England. The amount of time I spend calling the water board, appealing, writing letters and reporting back to him costs me and the company FAR more than the bill itself. Wouldn't it be say...take a hike mate!

Friday, 12 March 2010

Japanese summer

The girls' father has written saying he would like to fly them home for a few weeks over the summer. They will be delighted. They miss Japan and look forward to their visits. Their grandfather is turning 80 this year and he in particular wants to see them.
It saddens me that the girls live so far from their dad and grandparents now, but at least they do get to spend some time together.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Productive tortoise

How do some people do it? I am still getting up early to work on my crochet but have not listed anything since last week because I haven't finished anything!! I have got a few bits ready to sew and a piece of cake that needs decorating, so it can be listed soon, but despite efforts I am far from prolific. But I am not going to give up. I will be like the choice really.
The other big hassle is that the ideas come from my head (arguably a good thing). At first I looked for patterns to work from, but can no longer follow a pattern as I always end up working my own ideas. The down side is that being a newbie to the art, my technical level is a bit limited!
Ho Hum. Not really a big issue, but I am chomping at the bit here!

Wednesday, 10 March 2010


We all have them, big and small. One of mine is to have a property portfolio! Reality, we have a mortgage, although, by Easter, we may own a two bedroom flat in North Shields! John and I saw two and chose one that we think we can rent out quickly. It needs very little doing to it (the survey has not been done yet though) and is likely to have reasonable resale potential...pending market developments etc etc etc! It is all a risk, but exciting.
The trip up North was busy, apart from house-hunting, we went to lunch with John's parents and then a drive to St Mary's Lighthouse where we had an icecream. The weather was so cold I could barely open my mouth to eat it!
Unfortunately we could not catch up with friends Chris and Judy as Judy was ill, but John and I caught the Metro to Newcastle, which is a lovely town. We had lunch, he bought me a beautiful piece of antique jewellry and then he headed off to watch Newcastle United play at St James Park. (They won 6-1!!). I browsed through the shops and had a great time.
John's sister is in real estate, and it was through her we got our wonderful flat, so we celebrated with her, her husband and J's parents. Champagne all round.
The sun was shining on Sunday and I wanted to stay and do a walk somewhere in the area, but we had a 5 hour drive to do to get home to our girls and Adam. A good weekend.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Away Days

John and I head up north to see his parents around lunch time tomorrow. Adam is in charge on Thursday night and there is excitement as the local Pizza House, a hot favourite with our lot, has now got a DELIVERY service which they plan to test!!
For the rest of the weekend, my brother and his girlfriend are due...they are on holiday at present so let's hope they have not forgotten.
I am not good at leaving my children full stop. Separation anxiety is the name for it, and anxious I get. They of course do not get anything other than excited!
We plan to see family, see some friends, and to look at two properties as we are in the market for an investment. More on this later...big steps for us and we have long been used to getting by and we budget and save. If it works out, it will be nice.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Norwegian Connection

A Norwegian high school student is coming to stay with us for a few days this month.
It is all fairly short notice,and was only confirmed today, but is part of an cultural exchange between the school and its counter-part in Norway. It means Hannah gets to go to Norway next year. LUCKY GIRL...wish it was me!
We are still waiting for details, but I am looking forward to it. We had such a lovely girl from Holland stay last year, and we have two Japanese students due at the end of May. United Nations in the 'burbs!

Monday, 1 March 2010

New Tack

Lots of good food this weekend... We had dinner with friends in Frant, near Tunbridge Wells, in a pub called The George. Drinks at their house before that and it was a great evening. Stormy weather was forecast, but it held off till Sunday morning. John and I ventured up to Croydon where we popped in to Wing Yip for a few goodies from the bakery. Curry bread, red bean cake, steamed pork buns and a sesame and coconut ball....the pork buns and curry bread made for two very happy girls. Then we had lunch at An Nam, the Vietnamese restaurant in the complex. Fabulous food, and lots of it, so much that we had to ask for doggy bags.
We dropped into Furniture Village to see John's sister and collect two bags of hand me downs from her daughter and again trailed around looking for sofas and not finding anything that we both like!!
We did both agree though, that we do not utilise our time as well as we could, so from this morning we have decided to get up an hour earlier every day, for me to crochet and to listen to the news in Japanese and for John to walk to the newsagents for the paper and to watch the business news.
I got one of my projects finished and it will be on the Flickr Photostream later in the day.
Finally, the weather is glorious this morning.