Thursday, 31 March 2011

The End Of An Era

Today I'm in a mood for reflection.

I think it was caused partly by me realising last night that I'd put together my last agenda for our fortnightly management meeting.

It suddenly dawned on me that not only am I leaving my job on 15th April but I'm also waving goodbye to my career as a PA/Administrator.

Seven years of juggling diaries, compiling agendas, writing minutes of meetings, filing, fetching visitors, booking travel arrangements and organising events, whilst making ten cups of tea will come to an end.

There was a time when I thought my life as a PA would be like the film Working Girl: glam, full of opportunities and excitement. My first job was in a consultancy in Soho and I would stride down Regent Street for my 8.30am start, immaculately suited and ready for action. Those were exciting days in 2005/6 when companies still had money to spend on posh Away Days, Black Tie Christmas Dinner Dances and the courier company could afford to take me and a colleague to the races.

However, after a year I decided to go back to university to finish my studies and not too long after that the company went from market leader to going into administration. How things change!

Now I realise that my working history is more like The Devil Wears Prada. I worked in admin because I need the money even though I probably still really wanted to teach (or run my own children's bookshop but that's a story for another time), I got swept away with the glamour, money and prestige of working with very talented people but then realised that sometimes you just need to follow your heart and personal ambitions no matter what they may be.

If you've seen the film surely you would agree that the character of Andy is happiest at the start and the end of the movie rather than the middle when she's living the high life?

I know I've made a good decision and as Mr P reminded me last night, I'm going to do so many very exciting things that I just don't even know about yet. And yet I know that there will be many moments in the next few weeks, as I do things for the last time and say my goodbyes, when I will get a lump in my throat, remember happy days and think about what could have been.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Late March - Cloud And Drizzle

Are we really at the end of March already? Where is this year disappearing to?

Clothing Bargain
After my big rant about clothes last week, I had a very lucky find yesterday. I wandered into The GAP yesterday lunchtime and found a gorgeous red crochet cardigan. I tried it on and it fitted, only then as I was taken it off I realised that it was from GAP Kids and was age 12-13 years. This didn't put me off, especially when I realised it was on sale and only £7.99 - bargain! I will be looking in the kid's sections in future!

Goodnight John Boy
Despite working in TV I just can't find anything enjoyable to watch at the moment. The best programme I've seen so far this year was a documentary called Leaving Amish Paradise which told the story of two families as they left their Amish community. It is worth catching if it's repeated.

So with nothing to watch on the box, I've borrowed Mum's DVDs of the first series of The Waltons. I am really enjoying the stories about John Boy and his family. We watched it on Sunday mornings when I was small -  I always wanted Elizabeth's red hair. It's gentle but sometimes that can be refreshing in this modern world where TV dramas are so fast paced.

Not Quite Here, Not Quite There
This is turning out to be a bizarre time:
  • I've not yet finished one job and moved onto the next but (despite really trying hard)  my head isn't really in my PA job anymore.
  • Mr P is in the middle of his big project at work and is desperately waiting for it to finish so he can have a rest.
  • I'm trying to be frugal but while I still have money in my bank account I feel the need to carry on spending.
  • The weather wants to be sunny spring but sometimes it decides to regress to being winter again...especially on the day when I lock my cardigan in the living room and can't get the door open. I'm sitting in the office typing this and feeling cold.
  • We have lots of ideas for how to decorate our house but haven't yet worked out where, when, how!
I don't know if I'm coming or going and to be honest, I feel as though I'm in a bit of a whirlwind at the moment. There's so much to do and think about but am lacking the ability to prioritise and do what needs to be done and just get round to the other stuff when necessary.

I feel very overtired and am now just counting the days until I have 10 days holiday before starting work at the school to sort things out, catch up on sleep and start afresh.

There are 17 days to go!

Happy Tuesday and best wishes for the rest of the week.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Wonder At Age One

Yesterday we visited Ferryside Favourite, her husband and Little D.

We had a very yummy lunch and a very chatty afternoon.
After Little D's nap we read him stories and played together. 

His Daddy entertained him by blowing bubbles. These amazed him. 

What's that?
Don't Let Them Disappear!

Little D is not so little anymore. He looked like a proper little boy with two front teeth, lots of fair curly hair and was wearing some very cute dungarees.

My gorgeous little buddy!

Sunday, 27 March 2011

A March In March

Yesterday Mum and I joined the March For The Alternative.

We walked from Embankment to Hyde Park in protest against the government cuts.

We did not start any trouble.

Far from it, we'd even thought of stopping off at Fortnum and Mason's for tea and a cake en route.

There was an amazing atmosphere of unity and we spoke to lots of interesting people from all around the UK.

It was fun to read the messages on the placards. Mine was 'Clegg Told A Whopper'.

The best one I spotted was this:

'If you're going to kettle me, it's one milk, two sugars and I'd like some cake.'

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Kreativ Blogger Award

Thank you Vicky from Coffees and Milkies for nominating me for the Kreativ Blogger Award. I'm very honoured especially as this blog is so new.

For this award I have to do three things:

1) Link 10 blogs

2) Tell these bloggers about the award

3) Write 10 facts about yourself

I'm going to do this in my usual topsy-turvy fashion and start with the 10 facts first...

I think my feet have shrunk or shoes have got bigger. 
I used to wear size 6 until a few years ago when I suddenly needed to wear  5 1/2's.

I have only ever driven red cars.

I get springtime hayfever caused by blossom. 
People look at me strangely in March, April and May when I say I'm suffering.

I have a red coat that I only wear from 1st December to Twelfth Night.

I loved the film You've Got Mail so much that I went to see it twice at the cinema.
My typing speed is 82 words per minute
- a skill I don't want to lose when I go to work in the school. 
Having said that I hope my RSI in my left thumb will improve.
My middle name is Elizabeth. 
It is my Mum's middle name and was my Nana's first name. 
She was named after her great-aunt, 
so the name must go back in our family for at least 150 years.

When I was a little girl I watched the royal weddings of Charles and Diana, 
and Sarah and Andrew on video again and again and again...
I have four godchildren - two girls and two boys 
and lots of other lovely little people in my life.

I'm going on my first protest march today!

Now for the blogs I'd like to nominate for this award...

I look forward to reading your lists.

Have a wonderful weekend whatever you may be up to!

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Make The Most Of Each Day

Because change happens so quickly.

I can't believe I've only just managed to capture our Camellia in flower.

The blooms are already turning yellow and falling off.

It reminds me to make the most of each day.

Nobody really likes a Wednesday but we should take the time to do something we enjoy or get pleasure from.

And I've got a half day from work to enjoy a little bit more of it - hooray! x

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Late March - The Promise Of Sunshine

Perhaps it's the sunshine that has made me full of beans, but even on Sunday my head was full of things for my Tuesday spot, so I'd better get started.

New Treasures
Many of you may already be familiar with the work of Lisa Leonard Designs in Los Angeles. When our insurance claim for our burglary (finally) came through I wanted to replace some of my stolen jewellery and couldn't resist buying one of Lisa's necklaces.

It arrived on Saturday and since then I've only taken it off to go to bed. I love it. It feels like I've owned it forever.

What do you think?

Getting Ready For A Summer Of Culture
Some of you asked yesterday how I managed to get such cheap tickets for the ballet. I just looked at the English National Ballet website to see what the cheapest price was and discovered that they sell lots of £10 and £15 seats in the balcony for each performance. The seats aren't the most comfortable but if it was a choice between going or not going, I would definitely go for the cheaper option and let my bum suffer from the narrow seat.

Following my bit of culture on Saturday I've made a couple of bookings (while I still have some money to play with) for later on in the summer.
Mr P and I are going to see Carlos Acosta at the London Coliseum in July. It is the same show that he performed in London last year and it is meant to be amazing. It will be a great opportunity to see a master at work, he's supposed to be 'the' male dancer of his generation.

Also in July we are going to see Kate Rusby at the Regent's Park Open Air Theatre. I've loved Kate's folky music for a long time now and I think it will be the perfect thing for a balmy summer evening. Mr P and I have already decided to take a picnic to enjoy beforehand - last night we were thinking of all the nice things we can put in it. Yum!

(Me from We Are Here may want to skip this bit)

Snail Heaven
On Sunday afternoon Mr P and I ventured into the garden to do a bit of tidying up. It's the earliest in the year that we've made a start on preparing the garden for the warmer months.
Usually we leave it until mid-June, then grab a load of bedding plants to make it nicer to sit in.

But this year, through lack of disposable income, we've decided to make it a bit of an investment project and make sure that the plants we do buy will come back year after year and only buy bedding for a few pots.

I made a start on tidying up our strawberry plant container which is in an old Victorian chimney pot from Mr P's grandmother's house in Manchester. When we cleared out his parents house it travelled down to London with us in the back of our car.  As I took the container out of the chimney, I came across snail heaven. It must be the place where all the snails in our garden go to die because once they're in it, they can't get out.


(It's OK Me, you can come back now)

Up In The Morning Early
You'll be pleased to know that following my comment last week, I have started getting up early in the mornings. 7am to be precise. So far, I'm not finding it a problem. There is really nothing I can do to persuade myself it's a good idea other than not think about it and just shift myself.

It's nice to have a bit more time to get ready. Yesterday I took this picture of Fluffy Cat while I was pottering. It is nice to have to wake her up rather than her wake us up. It's certainly surprised her to be woken up for food!

She looks a little bit annoyed at such an early start
but at least she can go back to bed for the day!

Girl Power
Definitely not the Spice Girls, but I've been listening to a lot of female singers recently: Rumer, Paloma Faith, Ellie Goulding and have just discovered Imelda May. I just love her vintage yet modern style of music. It's just the right thing to get me bouncing around and I'm singing her tunes in my head all day. I had to go out and buy her albums so I could listen to her on the move rather than just on Spotify at home. If you like music with a 1940s jazz/rockabilly/blues feel, then this is definitely worth a listen to.

Pulling Myself Together
I'm back at Homemade London tonight for the first of a two-part curtain making course. Mum is joining me this time which will be fab. I'm really looking forward to seeing Nicola and her lovely team and getting some inspiration for the four pairs of curtains I need to make for our flat this year.

Goodness, that's a lot of stuff for so early in the week. I have a feeling that I might have to have an honorary Tuesday spot later in the week. I'm still brimming with things to tell you.

It's lovely to be so full of life,
I'm going to make the most of it while it lasts!

Monday, 21 March 2011

Sunny Saturday In The City

On Saturday Mr P and I ventured up to town for the afternoon. We had £10 tickets to the ballet.

The show was the compilation ballet Black and White performed by the English National Ballet at the London Coliseum. It was an amazing performance. The dancers were so athletic and strong, especially the men. There were five segments to the show and all were exceptional but my favourite was a new ballet Vue de l’Autre with music composed by Einaudi. It was simple but very beautiful and the music was lovely.

It was such a sunny afternoon that when the matinee ended we headed off to the Southbank to enjoy a walk in the sunshine and try out my new camera. I'm still getting used to it and really should have taken the instruction manual with me but I did enjoy snapping away.

My home town in glorious sunshine!
(Taken from Hungerford Bridge)

There was a Cheese and Wine Festival behind the Royal Festival Hall but alas, as there were no freebies or tasters, we went to Ping Pong for an early dinner. We had a sharing menu for two and it was very yummy. I was 26 when I discovered dim sum but now I can't get enough of the stuff. How can anyone not like little dumplings - mmm?

The best picture I could take in dark, sophisticated Ping Pong.
I was too desperate to eat when the food came that I didn't stop to take any pictures.

After dinner we headed back home with stuffed tummies and a big smile on our face.

Culture and Food: the perfect way to spend a Saturday in the city!  

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Middle-March* - Fog And Sun

*I couldn't help but make that the title of today's Tuesday Things. I so like reading and re-reading George Eliot's novels.

Weird Weather
I'm really enjoying the weather at the moment. There is definitely something in the air that is spring and even on days when we've had a bit of rain we've always had some sunshne afterwards.

Today from my office on the 6th floor, I can see lots of sun in the sky but looking out across London I can hardly see anything as it's very foggy. Utterly bizarre!

Beautiful Baby
This is very self indulgent but I have to share this photo with you. It was taken on Sunday when our friends visited. I just love it.

Isn't Little E so incredibly pretty? I love the way she looks so peaceful. 

A Cold Oven
I'm glad you thought the cake in yesterday's post looked nice. In it's short shelf life (I think it had been made and eaten in less than 2 hours) it had a bit of an adventure.

Just as we were about to put it in the oven, the power in our flat cut out and when we flicked the fuse switch, the element in the oven had broken. Panic - our friends were visiting in 15 minutes! Luckily our very kind friend upstairs was able to help out and let us cook it in his oven - for a slice of cake, of course.

We are still waiting for the replacement element to arrive so are doing lots of hob cooking in the meantime. That and going to the pub for Sunday dinner - an unexpected treat.

Getting Up
Perhaps the reason why I like the picture of Little E so much is because she's sound asleep and that's where I want to be. I still feel like I haven't snapped out of my winter hibernation phase and am still wanting to sleep for far longer than I need to. It was gone 8am when I surfaced this morning. It really is not a good thing at all. In my new job I'll have to be there for 8:30.

Mr P and I very much need to resolve this as it's not good for either of us. I was always a 'morning person' until I moved in with him and since then he's corrupted me into being a layabout. 

We've tried everything and even if one of us gets up to feed the cat we are still tempted back to bed.

Have you got any getting up tips?

Thanks Again
I just wanted to say thank you again for all your lovely comments these past few weeks: birthdays, get well, good luck and most recently, congratulations. I love to read all your comments and it's great to know I have so much support. I enjoy hearing what you have to stay about my experiences and getting your advice on things. It's nice having so many friends in so many different parts of the world who have had/are having so many different life experiences.

It was such a difficult decision to decide to change career and even now I occasionally have moments when I panic that I've made the right choice, especially last night when Mr P and I worked on our budget for the next year. I really have got too used to the finer things in life! But at the end of the day, making the change now will offer me so many great opportunities in the long term. 

And of course, as everyone keeps reminding me, there are so many holidays!

Happy Tuesday All x 

Monday, 14 March 2011

Children & Cake

Happy Monday Everyone!

I hope it's as sunny in your part of the world as it is in West London this morning. It is beautiful!

I also hope you had a weekend every bit as good as mine.

One of the great things was getting a replacement camera on Saturday. While I was out (at a teaching career fair!), Mr P whizzed up to John Lewis in Oxford Street and came back with a fabulous new high-spec camera. I'll have to write more about it soon. It's great - Mr P and his best friend seemed to make lots of interesting noises about it which I take to be good - but I think I will definitely have to read the instruction manual this time.

The weekend could not have got any better but it did.

We had a visit from our friends and their little family (one of the February baby girls) yesterday afternoon.

We had tea and cake and chatted, cuddled and played for hours. It was gorgeous and a great opportunity to try out the camera.

Little B scatters some magic on the (homemade - Tuesday Thoughts moment) cake....

'Oooh, cake for me?'
(Note the finger prints in the icing sugar - he'd already tried to claim the whole cake!)

'Let's get eating!'

I think Little B enjoyed the cake. I definitely did. Nom nom nom!

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

The BIG Plan

I guess you've come back to hear about the BIG plan.

I'm hoping that you crossed your fingers and toes.

In fact, I know you crossed them very tightly because my BIG plan is going to happen!

I am being very brave (which is completely unusual for me) and have made a life-changing decision to change career and move into teaching.

Yesterday, I heard that I will be able to take the first step on the path towards this.

I have been a PA for the past three years and worked in administration for a couple of years before that. I'd worked my way up the hierarchy and had a really exciting, well-paid post but was never 100% happy. I wasn't challenged enough and frustrated with doing the same things every day. I felt like I'd let myself down in my working life and was capable of something more.

I thought about a lot of different jobs and career paths (nursing, HR, retail), I even went to a Career Psychologist and in the end came back to the vocation I'd always been passionate about: teaching.

I had been a Key Stage 1 (4-7 year olds) Literacy Support Assistant during my Gap Year and loved every minute of it. It was challenging, rewarding and no two days were ever the same. I loved and continue to love being round children and learning from them as well as being able to share my knowledge and experiences.

So after Christmas I decided I was determined to plot out a career map and make the jump back into a school setting. I knew I needed to have lots of experience to gain a university place to study for a Primary PGCE (teaching qualification).

I started to look for Teaching Assistant jobs and one of the first ones I found was at my old primary school. I beavered away with my application, writing and re-writing my personal statement and once I'd been shortlisted Acton Belle did a great job in helping me prepare (down the phone) for my interview.

At 9.30am yesterday, I went back to the little school and met the Headteacher for the first time in 18 years. It was a hard interview, but I felt I answered the questions well. Even then I wasn't exactly sure I was what they were after.

I went back to work and waited. Then 'ping', at 2.30pm I received an email offering me the job. How exciting! Of course, I said YES!

My life suddenly changed and I felt like a big weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I had achieved something and was overwhelmed with happiness.

I start the new job after the Easter holidays (26th April) and so have another five weeks in my current position. I plan to really enjoy the next few weeks with my colleagues and friends.

It will be such a change for Mr P and I. Not only the BIG drop in salary (my main reason for being thrifty) but also in having more time. I will be home much earlier every day and have lots of holidays to enjoy. But most importantly I will be doing something I really want to do which is going to make me very happy. I can't wait for the new challenges ahead.

I know there will be highs and lows but I think it will be a very exciting adventure and I hope that you will share this journey with me.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Early March - Wonderfully Sunny Day

It's Tuesday already.

Sunny Day
In my little corner of West London it is another beautiful sunny day. We've had three good weather days in a row and it's making me walk with a spring in step. How nice is it to wake up to daylight and sunshine streaming through the window?

The only bad thing about this is that Fluffy Cat has cottoned onto the fact that the weather is much improved and has started to wake us up early (6.30am at the moment, but it will be 5.00am in high summer) to be fed and let out. Joy of joys!

All Well Now
Thanks for all your lovely get well messages. I was back at work on the Friday, had a quiet weekend and have fully recovered. It was such a horrible bug and at times I thought I was getting worse not better, so I'm glad it has gone away now.

Great tip from Ali: cola with a 1/2 a teaspoon of sugar to take the fizz out really helps an upset stomach and gives you a bit of energy to get through the day. Thanks for that! x

A Change Is As Good As A Holiday
At the weekend Mr P went to a stag do and suggested that I stay at my parents on the Saturday night so he didn't wake me up when he stumbled home.

So on Saturday afternoon I packed a little overnight bag and walked the five minutes to Mum and Dad's house. We had homemade fish pie for tea and watched the film version of Brideshead Revisited (which was beautifully crafted but is such a tragic story). I then went up to my old bedroom and slept so comfortably in a nice big double bed that I didn't have to share with a husband or a cat.

It was lovely and so nice to be woken up with a cup of tea and a biscuit by Dad on the Sunday morning. I felt relaxed and refreshed. As Nana used to say: A change is definitely as good as a holiday.

Cross Your Fingers and Toes
Today is my week when the BIG plan will hopefully start. I don't want to jinx it and say something but please cross fingers and toes for me this morning.

Hopefully I can let you have some exciting news tomorrow.

Monday, 7 March 2011

When The Silent Decide To Speak

How did I get to the age of 29 without being aware that squirrels could make noises?

Yesterday (which was beautifully sunny in West London) I was sat at the kitchen table busily typing when suddenly I heard a strange noise coming from outside.

After about a minute I could no longer ignore it. I opened the patio doors and stuck my head out to discover what the cacophony was being made by.

Fluffy Cat was sat on the doormat and there was our resident squirrel balanced on the fence squawking, quacking and spitting at her quite ferociously.

It went on for several minutes and sounded like a cross between a crow and a duck.

I've found a YouTube video here which is somewhat like the noise:

Isn't it utterly bizarre?

But great to find out something completely brand new. There must be so many other surprises in nature to discover.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011


March is the crossover month:

From winter to spring.

From thick coats to thinner jackets.

From the prospect of snow to the hope of some sun.

From walking home in the dark to walking home in the daylight.

From having the heating on full blast most of the time, to turning it down on warmer days.

Turning plans into reality. 

Definitely going from without a camera to with!

Hopefully, moving from one opportunity to another.
What changes are you expecting this month?

And in the meantime, here's a picture of Little D's cake from his Naming Day/First Birthday Party on Saturday. It was such a lovely day. He was so well behaved and it was so nice to see everyone there just for him. He's an adorable little boy (and it was a very yummy cake).

Thank goodness I had prepared this post last weekend as I've been in bed since Sunday with the worst stomach bug I've ever had. I don't really know where I've been for the last couple of days and even now I'm not feeling much better. There are definitely better ways to lose weight! 

Thank you for all your lovely birthday wishes on Friday. I enjoyed reading them all and had a fabulous day. I promise that I will send individual emails when I'm feeling better. x