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After being in Devon for a week, I caught the train down to Portsmouth. I’d wanted to visit ever since they had named a street there after one of my favourite authors books (The Ocean at the end of the Lane), and there was a ferry going to the Channel Islands (which I had also wanted to visit for ages) leaving from Portsmouth so it seemed like too good an opportunity to miss!

I had had real trouble finding somewhere to sleep for the 2 nights I was there as I hadn’t realised school holidays started that weekend but I found somewhere on airbnb (a new experience for me!) and got there about 7pm. I had some dinner and then had an early night.

The next day I left fairly early and walked down to The Ocean at the end of the Lane, as I had some guerilla knitting I wanted to put up there. No hassles, one person asked what I was doing was part of an organisation as they had apparently seen a few other people doing it that day too!

As you can see, the guerilla knitting isn’t my best as I wasn’t sure how tall the posts would be, so I had to do all the words separately.

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Words by Neil Gaiman, knitting by me.

After sewing the knitting up, and taking a few pictures, I wandered down to the beach and started walking towards the historic docks. It was a pretty nice day – a bit windy (heaven forbid it NOT be windy at the beach!), and there were lots of people out as there was a running event on that was going on on the road running parallel to the beach. I meandered along, taking lots of pictures (there’s a ton of memorials down there!), and eventually got to Portsmouth Castle.

It’s free entry so I went in and had a look around. It’s a fascinating castle, and I spent a while wandering through, and chatting to a woman working there about Portsmouth.

After I’d had enough of a look, I decided to go to the D-Day museum, as it’s basically directly opposite the castle, and I figured I could always learn more about D-Day! The D-Day museum was well worth a visit! I particularly enjoyed the Overlord Embroidery, which is 43 separate panels depicting the progress of Operation Overlord (the code name for the invasion of Normandy).

Image copyright D Day museum, Portsmouth.

After I had finished at the museum, I was ravenous, so continued along the waterfront in search of something to eat. I eventually ended up in a shopping centre close to the Historic Dockyards, and had a curry for lunch.

As it was getting dark (it was a very late lunch!), I quickly headed over to the Dockyards to have a brief look around.

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HMS Warrior

 

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HMS Victory

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I had a bit of a look around the Mary Rose gift shop, but I didn’t really have enough time to go inside and have a proper look (something for another day), then went and bought some food for dinner and the boat the next day, then walked back to my accommodation.

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Immediately after being in Aberaeron, I got the train down to Devon (no holiday in between this time!). The trip down was fine, apart from a small snafu where the train I was booked on didn’t exist anymore (not sure how I managed to book myself onto a train that didn’t exist, but at least I wasn’t the only one). Luckily the platform manager at Wolverhampton was super helpful, as was the conductor on the train, so I got in to Newton Abbot not too much later than I was supposed to.

I was picked up by E, and taken back to the house, which wasn’t far away. I was shown my unit (T (E’s wife) & E own a bed and breakfast, and I had my own truly gorgeous unit). I dumped all my stuff and headed over to the main house. E & T had dinner guests, and T had made a really nice vegetarian curry for dinner. Everyone was really friendly and we had a nice evening, talking about places people had travelled to.

I was there to help clear some things out of the house (ironically, given how bad I am at throwing my own stuff out), but as the rubbish skip wasn’t arriving until Monday (the following day), on Sunday morning T & E’s guests left not too late, and we (T, E, and I) went to an apple pressing festival being held at Cockington Forge. There was lots of stuff on and we had a good wander through some of it (you had to pay to get in to part of it, but as you could hear what was going on outside, and we weren’t that keen, we didn’t go into that bit). Lots of crafty people there, and I bought a tiny giraffe button that I’ve yet to do anything with, but enjoy looking at!

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Scientific testing of whether I like my cream tea the Cornwall or Devon way!

 

When we’d had enough of the festival, we went and had a cream tea (something I wouldn’t feel right leaving Devon and not having done!). I found out that I apparently have my cream tea the Cornwall way (scone with jam and then cream, scone with cream then jam is the Devon way!). We then drove down to the beach and went for a bit of a walk.

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Torquay Beach

The next day the skip arrived, and we got to work loading it up. Apparently I have quite the skill in getting your moneys worth in terms of how much stuff you can get into a skip with no space left! By the end of the week, we’d completely filled the skip up, and it was almost perfectly flat on top!

While I was in Devon we also did a few trips out. The first was to Coleton Fishacre, a jazz era home owned by the D’Oyly Carte family (patrons of the Gilbert and Sullivan). I think this is one of the newest National Trust buildings I’ve visited (I usually stick to the older ones), but it was interesting nonetheless! The gardens were still looking pretty good (despite it being the end of October, and they had beautiful sea views (although not from the house).

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Coleton Fishacre

 

We also did a trip out to Greenway, which was once Agatha Christie’s holiday home. This was also really interesting, and was definitely my favourite of the 3 properties I visited here in Devon! There was a fantastic orchard, and we picked some chestnuts off the ground in the parking lot (my first experience with whole unpeeled chestnuts!).

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Greenway

 

I also did a short walk down to Compton Castle, once owned by Sir Walter Raleigh’s half brother, Sir Humphrey Gilbert. As I knew basically nothing about HG, it was interesting to find out more!

Reviews: my review of them:

“I had a truly awesome time with T and E helping out in their b&b! They were kind, friendly, funny, and a real pleasure to be around. I helped E to do a bit of clearing out. They were lovely enough to show me around Paignton, and took me to 2 of the National Trust buildings around where they live. The work was relatively easy, and the food was great! I had my own unit to live in, all meals provided (I had breakfast in my own unit with presupplied cereal, toast, and fruit). I worked different hours each day depending on what T and E had on, and as previously stated they took me on outings when I wasn’t working.

I would not hesitate to go back!”

Their review of me: “If you are looking for a helper who is hard working, willing, cheerful, easy going and fun to have around then look no further email DL and snap her up!

DL has just spent a week with us helping my husband E clearing rubbish from the garden and generally helping out. Whatever we asked her to do it was done willingly and with a smile, she is fun to have around and is very good company. We would have DL back any time and there is an open invitation for her to come back, we hope she does! Bon Voyage DL x “

Leaving Edinburgh seemed like a very gradual process. When I left Wellington although I knew I was going for ages, I only had 4 weeks in which to pack up most of my stuff and pack, but as I was moving out of my flat before actually leaving Edinburgh it seemed like I had ages to get rid of stuff, send things home, and then finally have another 5 weeks to hone down what I was actually taking with me. Of course huge thanks need to go to all the people who put me up (you know who you are!), and the amazingly awesome Sid who not only forced me to accompany her to every stately home with tearooms (all but one!) reachable by public transport from Edinburgh, but was the voice of reason in helping me debag a lot of things I really didn’t need to bring with me.

Going back to where I left off last time, the book festival was pretty good. Alexander McCall Smith was as fantastic as ever, and I really didn’t regret going to see him a second time. David Levithan and Cat Clarke were my (unexpected) favourites though. I was there early and had an interesting conversation with the people sitting behind me about feeling too old to be at these kind of events (which I know is ridiculous!). That’s probably what I love most about events for teens/kids though, I always feel like there’s less pretense, people are there because they enjoyed the book (it’s entirely possible that I feel less awkward talking to people at those events though and so am more likely to do so though!) and are happy to talk about it.

Here’s the traditional picture, I think Cat got a bit of a shock when I asked them to say six though!

Cat Clarke, David Levithan, and Giraffe

I haven’t read anything by Cat Clarke, but am planning on doing so after hearing her read a bit of one of her books.

Michael Morpurgo was a delight to see. I’m SO glad I bought a ticket (not that there was ever a chance I wouldn’t), even if I ended up with a seat in the second row thanks to my tiny, tiny bladder. He was really nice when I met him in the signing queue too 🙂

Michael Morpurgo, Giraffe, and I

John Boyne was also really interesting!

John Boyne and Giraffe

After the book festival ended, I finally used up my last groupon voucher to go out on a ferry tour on the Forth of Firth with a stopoff on Inchcolm Island, which was great. It was a pretty windy day, but the Abbey on the island was gorgeous, and it was sunny enough to not be freezing cold! We also got to go out to where they’re building the new Forth Road bridge which was interesting, and they even answered two of my questions about how they build bridges over large bodies of water!

Inchcolm Island

After that there was just lots of saying goodbye to people. I only properly cried once, but that was mostly because we had also been playing Settlers of Catan and someone (who will remain nameless) stole the port I wanted, and had absolutely nothing to do with me being sad! It did feel really weird saying bye to people, partly because I know I’ll probably see most of them again before I actually go home, but also because it made me realise that when I do go home it’s going to be goodbye for a while. When I left Wellington I knew I would only really be gone for 2 or so years, and it felt different.

I’m currently in the Scottish Borders, and have been having a great time (I’ll write about that separately probably next week), but have been thinking about whether or not I should try and do a similar thing as I’m doing here in Iceland when I’m there in January. Two of the three reasons I want to go to Iceland are for snow and hopefully to see the Northern Lights, and my reckoning is that the longer I’m there for the higher the odds, but I’m not sure if it would be completely sane to stay in Iceland in basically complete darkness! I’m also not sure about how easy it will be to get around places via public transport. Someone has said that it’s Iceland and that they’re presumably used to the sort of weather I’m expecting so it won’t be too difficult! Anyway, feel free to chip in on the comments (I can’t seem to start a poll for some reason) if you have something to say :). At the moment I’m on the yes side of looking into it because it would definitely be an adventure!

I’ve been super busy since I last posted! The summer job is going pretty well, and I’ve only got another 2 days left with them at the beginning of next week before the kids head back to school. The summer seems to have gone by very quickly, but I guess it’s only 6 and a half weeks.

In the 4th week of the holidays I had a trip to Cardiff which was absolutely perfect. I stayed with a bookcrossing friend, Cassiopaeia. I seriously had the best time, helped of course by the awesome weather (highs of about 28 degrees every day, and beautifully sunny as well!). We did lots of snarfing, visited the Doctor Who experience (fully worth the entry fee), visited one Historic Trust building, and Saint Fagans (an open air museum featuring buildings that have been reconstructed within the museum grounds). I also had a morning to myself where I explored Cardiff Castle, and the National Museum. You can see my pictures from the whole trip here.

I’ve also been looking for work on the helpx website, and have so far managed to book myself in to work for 2 weeks in the Scottish Borders, 2 weeks in the west of Wales, and 1 week in Devon (98% confirmed)! That’s all starting up midway through September, and going through until almost the end of October, which only leaves 2 more months or so to find, and gives me a bit of a buffer which I’m really grateful for.

Until then I’m couchsurfing around various friends in Edinburgh! I’ve been having a good clean out of my stuff (with help from an awesome friend who would probably prefer to remain nameless!). Mount To Be Read is at an all time low of 6 (including the one I’m currently reading), and my chocolate stash is greatly depleted, and now totally bereft of Tim Tams!).

I’ve also seen a few shows at the Fringe Festival. Only one so far has been a complete dud, which is pretty good going (especially since it was a free one)! Noteworthy things I’ve seen include Black Faggot (all about being a gay Pacific Islander) and Outings (true stories about coming out), both of which I thoroughly enjoyed). Still got one thing booked, I’m off to see Potted Sherlock (60 Sherlock stories in 70 minutes by the people who did Potted Potter), and there’s still a few free things I would like to do, including Always Be Rolling (the poster has Settlers of Catan on it!).

The Book Festival starts tomorrow and I’m SO looking forward to it! I managed to get tickets to the 5 authors I wanted to see, so I’m off to see David Levithan (writer of gay teen fiction), Witi Ihimaera (of Whale Rider fame), Alexander McCall Smith (who I saw last year and obviously enjoyed!), John Boyne (he of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas), and Michael Morpurgo (one of my favourite authors, he writes mostly historical fiction for kids).

Hi everyone! Yes I know it’s been a ridiculously long time since I’ve written anything (as usual!). Life seems to be changing very quickly so I thought I better write about it.

The first change was that I was made redundant from my highest paying job at the beginning of last month. I’ve got a summer job, so finances are ok, but I’m dubious about how likely I’m going to find a job for the remaining 4 or so months after my summer job ends.

Secondly, the shit hit the fan at my flat (thankfully not between flatmates), and so we’re all moving out at the end of the month. It was supposed to be the end of last month, but as we were all having enormous difficulty finding anywhere to live, our landlord has been extremely nice and said we can stay for another month.

Thirdly, E and I have broken up. I’m ok about this, sad obviously, but we had a good talk about it, and we both feel it’s the right thing to do. Happily, we are remaining friends.

This however seems to leave me in a situation where I don’t really have a lot tying me to Edinburgh after the summer holidays end. I would like to stay here until after the festival ends (I’ve already got tickets to a few things at the book festival and I’m still wanting to go to those!), but after that I’m planning on leaving Edinburgh and helpxing or wwoofing (working in exchange for food and accommodation) in other parts of the country. I’m planning on staying in the UK as I can’t really afford to be moving between Europe and the UK, and I’m still keen to do my 3 month trip around Europe before the Oxford BookCrossing Convention at the beginning of April. Plus as I’m still legally able to work here, there won’t be any visa issues.

This leaves me with the possibility of either trying to find somewhere to live just for August (which might happen still), or attempting to couchsurf around Edinburgh friends places (I’ve had 2 possible offers which I’m hoping to firm up at some point) for a few weeks. (If anyone is willing to host me for a couple of nights/shorter/longer I’m happy to pay for food etc, please feel free to get in touch!).

This has all happened rather quickly in some ways and not in other ways, and I’m slightly scared about the future (what’s new there though!), but also excited about what I hope will just be the next step in my adventure. I feel ready to leave Edinburgh, although I’ve had WONDERFUL time here.

In other, unrelated news, I’m off to Cardiff on holiday in a couple of weeks! I’m really looking forward to it!

I know I’ve been really slack in keeping this up to date, but I recently wrote to my Grandma, and it seemed like it would be easiest to mostly copy and paste what I’d written there into here, rather than stressing out about writing individual entries for all the exciting things I’ve been up to.

Life’s been pretty up and down since my last entry. After we got back from Turkey, Skyring and I came to Edinburgh. We did do a small overnight trip up to Aberdeen to meet some of our mutual friends from BookCrossing which was fun! I think I attempted to sleep most of the way up, so didn’t see much, and when we got there I was still shattered (I hadn’t been sleeping well for some reason) so had a nap in our accommodation while Skyring went out and explored. After my nap, we went for a walk, I took lots of pictures of plaques! Then we met up with some BCers which is always entertaining. Giraffe and Skyring’s Bear (Ringbear) got passed around, and I got a couple of knitted teacakes! On the way back I was still tired, but forced myself to stay awake to enjoy the trip! Lots of good views from the train 😀

AKA Con Hilarity Continues

Melydia and I ride into the sunset on my giraffe

A few weeks later Skyring and I (plus lots of other people obviously!) both went to Gothenburg in Sweden for the annual BookCrossing convention. It was lots of fun. I got to meet lots of new people which was a bit weird. I’m used to knowing most of the people who go to the conventions because we have a steady group of about 20 people who come to the New Zealand/Australia ones. Obviously there’s a much bigger group over here and I don’t really know any of them! There were a few people I knew though and it was great to see them again! Again, we were really lucky with the weather and had a beautifully sunny weekend. Probably the only hiccup was that our (mine and MissMarkey) room reservation was lost, so we ended up sleeping in the conference room on foldout beds for the first night. It wasn’t a huge deal (it was even a bit fun!).

After Sweden I came home, worked in an after school club for a few months and met a boy (E). I quit the job at the end of term because I wasn’t really happy there, and couldn’t see it improving. E and I are still dating though (8 months so far)!

I was also lucky enough to be invited to a Dutch friends wedding in Amsterdam in May and was asked to be one of the witnesses! It was a beautiful wedding, and I had a wonderful weekend in Amsterdam. I visited the newly reopened Van Gogh museum and saw one of my 2 favourite paintings (the almond blossom one). Sadly my favourite one (Starry Night) wasn’t there, so I’ll have to make another trip!

I got a summer job working as a nanny for an English family living in Abu Dhabi, but here in Edinburgh for the summer. They had 3 sons, aged almost 4, 2, and 3 months. The Dad was still in Abu Dhabi, so I just went over for a few hours a day and helped look after the 2 eldest. We had such a hot summer (I think I wore shorts and tshirt for at least 4 weeks solid!) that we didn’t do much other than play in the backyard and inside when it got too bad! It was hard work, but fun at times! The 4 year old had a bit of a hitting/kicking issue with his younger brother which I hated, but the Mum was adamant that the best thing to do was just ignore it. The 2 year old was pretty good but had a bit of separation anxiety from his Mum which was fine if she wasn’t there, but more difficult when she just needed some peace to feed the baby and he was screaming away! The baby was probably the most placid baby I’ve EVER met!

When the job ended the Edinburgh festival had just started so I spent 3 weeks going to lots of cheap (and sometimes free!) theatre! My favourite was a Doctor Who related musical (they called it a Whosical)! I got to see the Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra who were fabulous too!

I also had a fantastic time at the Book Festival, where I went to lots of really interesting talks. My favourites were definitely Neil Gaiman (who I saw a few times), Alexander McCall Smith (who was SO funny, and I’m looking forward to seeing next year!). I also got to see John Marsden (who said New Zealand school kids are a lot like Scottish school kids, neither of whom are like Australian school kids!), Margaret Atwood (who somehow recognised my giraffe????), RJ Palacio (who wrote one of my favourite books this year, Wonder), and Judith Kerr, who did a fascinating talk about her husband.

Neil Gaiman was a bit sick of my giraffe by then

(Personally I wonder how I put up with Giraffe photobombing all my famous author pictures!)

Alexander McCall Smith wondered how E put up with me

E and I also went to the Tattoo which was amazing! The New Zealand Army won the Pooley Broadsword, which is given to the top group that has consistently high performances through the whole tattoo period. It had a bit of Gangnam Style in it (just enough to be funny without annoying!). There was a fantastic lighting display over the Castle, fireworks, and lots of different countries did really cool displays.

After that all ended Edinburgh felt very empty (apparently the population of Edinburgh triples at that time of year), but it was nice to be able to get around without lots of people carrying luggage and blocking all the footpaths!

In September, my cousin Megan came to visit me for a few days which was fun. We went up Arthur’s Seat (great views!) and did some other touristy stuff. It was nice to see her!

Don't ask what happened to the icing, I have no idea how I made it do that flecked thing!

Cake in Leeds!

The weekend after Megan left there was a BookCrossing Unconvention in Leeds. My friend Bookfrogster and I caught the train down for the weekend, and it was a fab one! Got to see some old friends, and met some people I’ve known online for ages but hadn’t met till then which was awesome. Again, we had fabulous weather and I even managed to get a bit of a tan! It was Molyneaux’s (and somehow 2 other people as well) birthday that weekend, and despite having no working oven (or heating, those were a fun 9 weeks!) in the flat, I managed to take a cake down for her, no small feat! Amazingly it did actually get there in one piece, and was delicious to boot! I also had great fun icing the cake in the hotel room!

After that my friend Steph came to visit for 2 weeks. She’s a travel writer and managed to get both of us press passes to lots of Edinburgh attractions. My favourite was Holyrood Palace, the Queen’s official residence in Edinburgh. There was a fantastic audio tour, and a cool plaque showing where David Rizzio (Mary, Queen of Scots secretary) was murdered by her then husband Lord Darnley. It was really neat walking around there, it makes all the historic people seem more real somehow. I mean I know they really existed, but getting to walk around where they walked kind of blows my mind. I also went to the Royal Yacht Britannia, which was the official yacht of the Queen until quite recently. It was neat getting to wander around there too, but a bit chilly on deck!

After Steph left I decided I needed a bit of a break from job hunting so went to the Isle of Mull for 5 days. I stayed in Fionnphort (pronounced Finnofort) for 3 nights and spent a day and a half on the island of Iona. Iona was beautiful! I had one nice day where it only rained twice for about 5 minutes each time. I got to see a cool spouting cave (like the ones at Punakaiki), and walked to each side of the island. Columba’s Cove was beautiful, with thousands of different coloured stones on the beach. It was so nice to be able to wander around and not see anyone, just appreciating the beauty. The bed and breakfast I stayed in was fantastic. Amazing breakfasts and super friendly/knowledgeable hosts. Really good value too!

West side of Iona

Still the west side of Iona

After 2 days on Iona, I managed to get a lift with some French Tourists who were staying at the same B&B to Craignure (yes, I’m clearly still alive) so got to spend an afternoon in Craignure (where the ferry goes to/from). I mostly swam (the hotel I was staying in had a pool) and read (the weather was horrendous!). Then on Friday I caught the bus up to Tobermory and did a bit of Birthday/Christmas shopping. Then I caught the bus, a ferry, and 2 trains back to Edinburgh.

Boats in Tobermory

Tobermory

While I was on Oban, I got a call asking if I’d like to do a trial week for a Scottish/Chinese family. They then decided they wanted a live in nanny. Being a live in nanny is really something I’m not interested in (I like having my own life too much!), so they kept me on until they found someone else. They were really nice, and I had a few more days work with them before Christmas, when their live in nanny went home (she’s Spanish). They had a 4 year old boy and a 5 month old daughter. The boy was really energetic, so we spent lots of time at the local park (even though it was getting really cold), and the library. The baby was pretty good, she had just started rolling over when I started, and it was really cute watching her learning the steps to crawling (mostly just lifting herself up off the ground!).

Since then I’ve had a few afternoons work with a Canadian family with 2 sons (aged 2 and 4). The kids are also really energetic, and talk a mile a minute, usually one in each ear so I can’t hear either of them! The Dad is studying, and as they don’t have any family here they just need a bit of help sometimes!

I’ve also now got a job that started out as being before and after school care, and has now morphed into after school care for the time (it’s going to change) being with a 9 year old girl who is very enthusiastic about everything!

I spent Christmas with E’s family, they are SO nice, and spoiled me rotten! Sadly we didn’t have snow on Christmas Day (or even around it!), and it’s been surprisingly mild considering how cold it was in November. We didn’t do very much over Christmas (not surprising considering we only had about 6 hours of sunlight!), just hung out, and ate (much like at home really, but minus the after lunch walk/swim!). I stayed for 3 days, and then E and I went on holiday to Glasgow for 2 nights.

I have slight plans for the Easter holidays with E, but they’re still panning out so I won’t write about those yet!

TL;DR have a link to my picture sets on flickr!

These last few weeks have been insanely awesome. Easter Sunday I caught the train down from Edinburgh to Harwell, where my friend MissMarkey lives. I’ve known MM since she came to stay at my place before the 2009 Christchurch Convention. Luckily for her, we all got on like a house on fire, but I’ve only had the pleasure of her company once since then, when we spent a week in New York, and then went to the BC in DC convention in 2011. She was definitely one of the drawing points of my move to Scotland, although it’s not that close to where she lives, it’s definitely a LOT closer than New Zealand!

So I was pretty excited to go visit her. But first, the train trip. I had thought about getting the bus down the night previously after work, but by the time I finally booked, the train was about £4 more expensive, during the day, and still got me in to Oxford in time to get the last 2 buses to Harwell. So train it was. I’d acquired the latest Doctor Who episode to watch on the train, but I only got as far as the first 15 minutes or so and was distracted by the gorgeous view going along the Forth of Firth. It was stunning – lots of green, and a few falling down dwellings that had probably been there since the beginning of time! So I turned on an audiobook (What I Saw and Why I Lied by Judy Blundell, which I still haven’t finished, I need to put it onto my ipod instead), and spent a glorious couple of hours appreciating the view of Scotland and England. I got off the train in Burmingham to transfer over to a train to Oxford, and spent just less than an hour at the railway station. Sadly I left my box of nuts (for snacks) on the train. I really need to remember to check under the seats!

I got on to the train to Oxford fine, but had a small freak out moment when there was someone sitting in my spot, and I thought I had got onto the wrong train! I wandered around for a while trying to find the train conductor, and ended up sitting next to a slightly skeezy, drunk guy who tried to hit on me *shudders*. Luckily he got off before I had to do anything drastic, and then we were in Oxford!

The train got in to Oxford right on time, and I got off with minimal fuss, then had good fun first putting money on my phone so I could let MM know when I was on the bus, then trying to find the bus stop. It wasn’t too bad, I just had a bit of difficulty matching my written description from google maps to the streets, and whether I should turn left or right. Luckily I looked suitably lost with my book of useful information that a cyclist asked if I needed some help and confirmed that I did indeed need to turn left. After that slight kerfuffle, I made it to the bus stop just as the bus was pulling in (admittedly there was a small amount of running when I realised I had 10 minutes to do an 8 minute walk – I don’t trust buses not to leave early!). I was the only passenger until we pulled into Didcot Railway Station (where my train was going, so next time I’ll get off there instead and save myself the walk). From there it was only about 10 minutes to Harwell where I had asked the driver to give me a yell a few minutes before we got in so I could organize myself. Luckily I saw MM on the side of the road signaling, because he hadn’t yelled and it didn’t take me too long to get off the bus!

We had a nice hug, and then walked a few metres down the road to MM’s place. It was so nice to see MM, who I hadn’t seen since 2011’s trip to the USA when we spent a week in New York and a weekend at the BC in DC convention. We had a nice catch up while the soup for dinner warmed up. After dinner we had a delicious flan that MM had whipped up, and then knitted, and hung out on the internet till about midnight.

The next day (Easter Monday), we were part of the village Easter egg hunt, so we headed off to the church after lunch (after some more knitting and internetting). I was the Easter Bunny and had to hide somewhere in the church for the kids to find me and claim their Easter eggs. The first hiding place I had wasn’t that great, but after 2 kids found me I moved into the pulpit with the door open a smidge, so I could see out and sat in there for what seemed like a long time! When my legs started going numb I moved across to somewhere with a bit more space, and sat there for a bit. It wasn’t nearly as good, so once a few more kids had found me I moved back to the pulpit, and then ended up back in my third hiding place for the last (cold) hour or so. I had tried to text MM to ask if there were any more kids, but didn’t get any reply (there wasn’t much cell reception in the church), and eventually the last kid did come and claim their eggs. It was lots of fun!

The chicks were all over me

Once we’d had a cup of tea and a bit of a chat with the people still there we drove around and picked up all the Easter bunnies scattered around the village (as part of the scavenger hunt) then got dropped off back at MM’s place. More soup for dinner, and some more knitting, hanging on the internet, and warming the chicks up. Janice has lots of chickens, and she’d taken a few of the eggs in to school so the kids could watch the eggs hatch, and brought them home with her in the evenings/weekends. She had also decided to take them into the church for the kids there to look at and had cleaned their warming lamp which then didn’t want to work in the church, and I thought the fuse must have blown, but it turned out to just need a new lightbulb. In the meantime the chicks were being heated by hot wheat pack, and we’d taken them out in the evening for a bit of a romp.

Tuesday we caught the bus into Didcot and did a bit of shopping in the charity shops. I bought two long sleeved cotton shirts for Turkey, and Janice might have bought some books. I’d been looking for cotton shirts in Edinburgh’s numerous charity shops and hadn’t found anything I liked/fitted/was the right weight so I was really glad to find these 2, especially when I thought I’d miscalculated how many tshirts I’d need and that I’d brought one less (I hadn’t!). Then off to a yarn shop with a slightly scary Swedish woman who helped us make a few purchases, mostly for yarn bombing on my part. Then we made our way to the supermarket to get things for quiche (which I had promised to help make). We caught the bus back to Harwell and MM got potatoes in the oven to roast and I made 2 (yummy, if I say so!) spinach quiches, one for dinner and one for lunch the next day when Skyring was supposed to be joining us. We realised when we unpacked the groceries that we’d accidentally gotten one sweet pastry crust and one savory, and of course I then made the mistake of taking them out of the packaging and then we couldn’t figure out which one was which, but I’m pretty sure we ate the sweet one (filled with spinach and egg and things!) for dinner that night. It was still nice! Followed by the last of the flan. More knitting/internet/chicks until around midnight when we snuck out into the village and yarnbombed a couple of the bus stop poles on MM’s street. Lots of hilarity there when we thought we’d stuffed it up and ended up with one side much higher than another, but it was just my fairly average holding together. One ended up inside out, but I think it still looked fine! Then back home to bed.

I didn’t sleep well, I kept waking up early in the morning wondering if Skyring had got in yet, his flight was supposed to have arrived in London about 5am (but was delayed), and eventually got up about 8.30am and hung around in my pajamas for a while. After what seemed like ages (but probably wasn’t!) he arrived and we all had a massive hug. He needed to rejig his suitcases because his big BC tote bag had the zip broken in transit and no longer did up once he’d opened it so brought some of his stuff inside. Janice and I made a pavlova while he did that. It turned out pretty good for my second ever attempt (and first on my own without Mum!). Had the rest of the quiche (the savoury one!) and the pav for lunch, and then went off for a tour of the church tower as MM had very kindly arranged for the head bell ringer to give us a bit of a tour. He showed us a bit about the bells, and even lowered one (which involves ringing it) for us! Then we went up on the church tower roof which had amazing views over Harwell, but was incredibly windy and a bit cold. When we’d had enough, we climbed back down, and went on a small snarfari around the village. I probably got about 30 before we’d all had enough of the wind and we went to MM’s book tree book and created a book tree. Then back to MM’s place where I packed all my stuff up. Lytteltonwitch arrived about 5, and we all headed out to dinner at a pub in a neighboring village with Molyneux and her son. Lots of fun had (as tends to happen when BCers meet up!), and we might have convinced Molyneux to come to Leeds in September for her birthday, which happily coincides with the BC Unconvention happening there. About 10 we left, Skyring dropped LW and MM back at MM’s place, we picked up my luggage, and drove in to the airport hotel at Heathrow.

I have had the busiest week in a LONG time (thinking about it, probably the week before I left NZ!).

Sunday I finally got a hold of Pete to tell him my exciting news. After being told that school holidays managed to almost exactly line up with when Pete was planning on being here, I had managed to work up the courage to ask one of my employers for the Saturday he was here off so we could book a trip to Gallipoli! So we spent lots of time planning 😀

I also had to work on a new idea for the library interview on Monday. After a lot of freaking out about it I had to hand draw my original idea because I hadn’t come up with anything I liked enough to use.

Monday morning I caught the bus out to the library after getting not enough sleep, and when I got there found out the interviews were actually the next day. So I got to schlep myself back home for another hours sleep, and to try and keep working on the poster (because I then knew the people who would be interviewing me would be the same as the previous interview). After an hour sleep I went in to after school care and was only slightly zoned out! Luckily I was on snack, and the kids don’t know me well enough yet to know that usually my memory isn’t quite that bad!

After work I caught the bus into town (it was snowing like crazy, in fact it looked exactly like it does in Christmas cards!) and met TCM who was back in town for a night before heading home early the next morning. I was a bit of an appalling host, I was so tired, and so distracted trying to get ready for the interview the next day. I did manage to get another poster ready, and I managed to get out of bed at 4am to say goodbye though! And the macaroni and cheese I made for dinner wasn’t too bad either!

Tuesday morning saw me back at the library for the proper interview. It was a bit average and I didn’t think I would get it (and I didn’t). Then back home and back to work in day 2 of the snowstorm. After 2 nights of not getting enough sleep I tried to go to bed early but failed to actually fall asleep because there was way too much going through my mind (primarily should I get any vaccinated for anything before going to Turkey – according to Pete (and his doctor wife!) I don’t need anything :D).

Wednesday morning was my first day at the play group I’m volunteering for. That was lots of fun! I got to play with lots of small kids, and did one on one for one kid who wasn’t have a great day. He was fine as long as he was entertained though. After that finished I went home to have some lunch, I’m so looking forward to getting my bike (oh yeah, I’m buying a bike!) because two of the jobs are really close together, but I don’t really have anywhere to hang out between, and home isn’t that far away either. Plus it’s along a canal, so no car traffic for Mum to worry about! I then caught the bus to a shopping center where I had arranged to meet someone I was buying a tripod off from gumtree. I completely failed timewise again and didn’t think about the bus times back, so the last bus I could catch to get back to work in time was 10 minutes before we were due to meet. Slight fail there! Luckily I did manage to get back to work in time, but I got the pleasure of riding in a black cab for the first time this year!

Thursday morning I got to sleep in until a decent time (10am oh year!) and after face painting at work (a couple of 8 year olds did a great design of a flower on my face, and a cool elephant on my hand, and I did a couple of cool designs on them too!) I got seriously lost trying to find the Australian woman I met at the yarn festivals house to talk about looking after her kids during the holidays and some mornings before after school care. I got amazingly lost (I had to ask for directions 3 times even with a map book!), enough that I’m mentioning it twice :p I did find my way there eventually, and we had a nice chat, and I got to meet one of her sons (the other one was sick in bed asleep). He is SO gorgeous and tickly, and we (the Mum not the son!) worked out some hours for the holidays 😀

Friday morning I got to sleep in again and then went in to work for the afternoon. I did face painting again, and mistakenly let the 5/6 year olds loose on my face. They went slightly mental and I ended up covered in brown and green and purple, all covered in gold glitter. And when I say all, I mean face, ears, neck, hands, forearms, all. I managed to get most of it off, but holy cow does that glitter stick! You’d think that because the glitter was over the top of all the other paint it would come off if I got the paint off, but you’d be wrong! It ended up all over my face, down my top (even where they didn’t paint thanks gravity!). After work I headed to my ukulele groups first birthday and we had a great strum along.

I started work at the after school care on Wednesday and it’s going really well so far! Wednesday I got to do snack, which I was a bit freaked out about because there’s about 80 kids and no one told me they weren’t all coming in for snack at the same time. Thankfully, they only come in about 5 at a time, so I wasn’t too rushed!

Thursday I helped with the bake sale for comic relief. Pretty straightforward, I just got to supervise whoever wanted to help take money in exchange for yummy baked goods. It was easy peasy – the only difficult part was when a VERY loud 11/12 year old on a massive sugar high started harassing me for the last popcorn covered in melted marshmellow. She didn’t have enough money for it, and even if she had I wouldn’t have sold it to her! I’m 99% there won’t be any hard feelings come Monday (she wasn’t in on Friday).

Thursday evening I got an email saying I made it to the interview stage for the library job (same as the last job for the library, but at a different library). I thought about not booking an interview, but then figured I can go to the interview and hopefully either fill in some gaps (original thought), or stop working at after school care (Mum’s suggestion, because I’m still in my trial month and haven’t signed a contract yet), or not work at the after school care every day (new thought). Then I had to decide whether to use the poster I designed for the last interview or to make a new one. After thinking about it for a while I’ve decided to do something similar, but not exactly the same.

Friday was the most fun day of the week. School finishes early on Fridays so I get paid for longer, plus we were all dressing up for Red Nose Day so I got to wear my pajamas to work 😀 Plus a bright red dressing gown, which I mostly took for warmth (I didn’t know we were getting dressed up for RND), so it was a nice coincidence that my dressing gown was red. I’m so glad I took it because I was out in the playground for most of the day. But because I didn’t have disclosure (police check) until Friday evening when I got home, I’m not supposed to be alone with the kids so there was an extra person out there, so I got to run around and play with the kids. Lots of make believe (I think I drowned several times and was blown away by a hurricane at least once!), and quite a few questions from some of the older kids about New Zealand. Possibly the funniest bit was when they asked me to talk “New Zealandish”!!

Today was the Edinburgh Yarn Festival. I haven’t been to a yarn festival before, but was curious to see what they were like, plus I was looking for some yarn for a special project (which shall remain nameless because it’s for someone who *probably* reads this), plus I knew quite a few people I knew were going and figured it would be nice to see them! I had a great time, bought 2 balls of yarn which I think will be perfect for my project, and got to hang out with some fellow knitters. I was impressed at both the variety of yarns, plus the variety of people there – I wasn’t the youngest (not even including the kids/teens who had obviously been dragged along!), and I even saw some guys with ravelry badges! At the end, after one last look around I got talking to an Australian woman who dyes (beautiful!) yarn about New Zealand and Australia and moving here and work, and it turns out she might be looking for a nanny! So if this library thing doesn’t work out (again), there’s a possibility of a job there 😀

In other unrelated yet exciting news, my hair is now long enough to tie up, and I’m in the process of purchasing a bicycle! The after school care I’m working in has a great cycle path most of the way to it from my place so I’m excited about cycling to work!

Last week was possibly the most insane and most exciting week this year yet (apart from perhaps the week I moved from NZ to Scotland that is!)

Monday saw me at a job interview with a woman having major surgery in a few weeks with 2 preschoolers. Hubby is massively busy with work for a while yet and so they’re looking for someone to basically be the parent while their kids are awake until the Mum is recovered. The interview went well, I really liked the woman, and we sat and chatted for about 2 hours. One of the longest interviews I’ve been too! She got back to me Wednesday while TCM and I were at the museum (it’s coming up!), saying I hadn’t got the full job, but offering me one day a week on Sundays (actually she meant Saturdays as I found out Thursday) which I took. So YAY for job! Even if it’s just one day a week.

Then after the interview I had to come home and clean, get groceries, AND try and get an early night (it didn’t happen sadly!).

Partly because Monday evening I went to a really interesting talk with Bookfrogster (a bcer also keen on history) at the Royal College of Surgeons for International Womans Day. The first talk was all about ‘the female malady’ and was about mental illness focusing specifically on the Royal Edinburgh Hospital. The second talk was about 3 specific woman – James Miranda Barry, Sophia Jex-Blake, and Elsie Inglis, who were all fascinating woman.

Tuesday my friend, The Chief Markeroon flew in for a 2 day visit on her way to her parents house further north. I had agreed to go pick her up from the airport (somehow it took her longer to get here from the USA than it took me from NZ…) so I caught the bus out to the airport to pick her up, arriving earlier than we had arranged, but still after she had got through customs etc and started reading a book.

I was expecting her to be a lot more jetlagged than she was so had only planned one major snarfari, but she was raring to go, so we came back to my place to dump her luggage, had something to eat and were out the door again on what is definitely the longest snarfari I have ever been on. I still haven’t figured out exactly how many historic places we took pictures of, but we have been accused of “tak[ing] a photo of every single building on the entire street!”, which to be honest is what we did!! It’s not *my* fault that almost every house is listed here! For those playing along at home we went along Leven St, Home St, Lauriston Place, Forrest Rd, George IV Bridge, then down the Royal Mile all the way to Holyrood Palace. We were planning on coming back via Queens Drive but we were both exhausted and could barely walk at that stage. So we caught the bus back to my place.

Museum High TeaThe next day I whipped onto the computer and booked us into High Tea at the museum. I was a bit dubious about these, it always looks like a very small amount of food for an exorbitant amount of money, and even this looks that way. BUT, we were both stuffed by the time we had finished all those delicacies. I got to try clotted cream for the very first time (and liked it!). The chocolate mousse (top center) was amazing, even though we both got white chocolate powder all over ourselves, but I think my favourite was the scones with jam and clotted cream.

After fortifying ourselves we went up onto the roof to have a look at the view and stayed up there for about 2 minutes – it was COLD! And we couldn’t really see that much because the low cloud was low.

When the cold got too much for us, we headed downstairs and out of the museum to snarf our way along Princes St. East Coasters I should warn you that pretty much every building on that street is historic as well (I haven’t got that far in logging yet!). We hadn’t really picked our time very well, rush hour had just started and of course (almost) every single bus runs along Princes St, so we had a few problems at the start, but it lightened down as we went further along. Princes St is probably the best road for snarfing along here, there’s only buildings on one side, and the other side has statues/monuments on it, so you don’t have to continuously cross the road to get decent pictures. Unfortunately we were battling with time as it started to get dark, and towards the end all my photos have these amazing balls of light from the street lights attached to the buildings.

By the time we got to the end of PS, it was almost completely dark, so we made our way back to my place for soup for dinner. After dinner TCM took me through the catalogue (which I think I mostly got), as well as some of the new features she’s working on at the moment (they look seriously cool!).

Thursday morning I dropped TCM off at the railway station and headed back to my place for a couple more hours of sleep before heading off to ANOTHER job interview, this time for an after school care at a school. That interview went well too, and I found out Friday that I had got that job as well. Apparently after the interview they had all agreed I was awesome 😀 [small preen] The good news just keeps on going, my old boss from Science Roadshow (he of the wheat allergy aka bossman) has sent me a truly fantastic reference – the woman he sent it too said it was the best she’d ever seen! Thanks Bossman!!

Thursday evening I dragged myself out of the house for BookCrossing meetup (I was trying to keep myself on a slightly normal sleep pattern and didn’t want to go to bed too early, but also I’m a big fan of BC obviously!) which was fun 😀

Friday I did basically nothing – well that’s a lie, I started logging my hundreds of snarfs from the snarfari, and did a bit of reading (just finished Ink Death by Cornelia Funke, it was good!)

Saturday I had a delicious spiced orange hot chocolate at the Chocolate Tree with LittleSuz from BC to hand over my Italian phrasebook. Definitely going back to the cafe!

Sunday I had knitting – there were only 2 of us, but I got a significant amount of my hat finished (all done now!) and I’ve now started my yarnbombing projects to take to Sweden in only 5 weeks (on Friday!)

Monday and Tuesday I was waiting to start work but they needed my references to come in, so today is the day! I’ve done some baking (nothing like home baking to get people to like you right :p) and am super excited to finally START WORK!!! Plus uke tonight and I haven’t been in 2 weeks because of cold and TCM 😀

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