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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!

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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.

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