Monday, 23 December 2002

Old News - Newsletter December 2002

I can't believe xmas is nearly apon us! Remember how long it used to take when you were little? Now December flashes past!

Apart from being told that I won't have a job next year, this has been a rather nice month ;-). Lots of people have made the trip out to see me and my new home, bulbs are coming up in my garden, and the birds have found the feeders hanging outside the lounge window! I have a robin, a couple of blackbirds and a tit or two so far. A kestrel too, but I think he was after the birdies rather than the seeds! The birds don't like it when I am in the lounge, but I hope they'll get used to me.

It certainly has been a good month for dinner parties, and my liver is taking a beating - ah well, that's what the festive season is for!

My plans for Christmas involve going to my cousin J's in Reading. Northerner and I are visiting them on xmas eve for snacks, then returning again for xmas lunch. It'll be a very family Christmas this year, as my Aunt and cousin are also visiting J and D at the moment. On Boxing Day I travel North with Northerner to see his family, returning via a remote pub on the moors and a stop at his brother's on the North East coast. I hope to pop in at J and K's on the way home on Sunday.

For New Years I am going for dinner in London with friends. Northerner is on call that night, so has to stay soberish! Shame.

My Dad is arriving in Newcastle today, having spent a month sailing a diamond mining vessel up from Cape Town (for ship building work). He's going to be coming to visit me in a week or two, which is great! Northerner's a little jumpy about it though... heh heh heh. And towards the end of Jan my Mom arrives back after a 3 month summer holiday in SA. I'm hoping they don't overlap - can you imagine!

Jobwise it is a rather slow time to be looking for work! Recruitment agencies are closed this week, so I am not even getting nuisance calls. I did go for two interviews last week, so there is a bit of work out there. It seems my skillset is reasonably marketable at the moment, and my willingness to be flexible about where I work is opening up the market a lot. Both interviews were ok. The one, which I WANT, I don't think I got. The other I think I did get, but I DON'T want it! They are both going to get back to me next year anyway.

Have a wonderful Christmas, and an excellent New Year!

Friday, 13 December 2002

Old News - Newsletter December 2002

My company informed my department yesterday that we are going to be made redundant on the 31st of Jan 2003. Since they acquired us at the beginning of the year we have failed to make a profit, and so they are disbanding as much as possible. It's not really a surprise, but it is a shock! I was expecting to get no bonus or increase, but to lose my job is a bit much!

I'm still a bit stunned and it almost doesn't seem real...

The job market is terrible, and the Dec/Jan period is the worst time of the year to be looking for work (if anyone knows of a job going, please let me know), so I don't expect to find anything soon. So I am cutting back expenditure as far as possible, as I'm sure you can imagine, so you won't be seeing much of me!

I will be getting some kind of redundancy package, which I hope will keep me in my home until mid-March when my lease ends (there's a couple of nasty clauses which make breaking it undesirable). After that I am going to be looking for floors to crash on, but I'll be picking on people closer to the time!

I'm glad I had the chance to go to SA and spoil everyone, and I'm glad I've already bought all my xmas presents! Luckily I hadn't actually booked any of the planned holidays for next year yet!

This is probably for the best, as I was hating my job and only holding on until the market improved. Now I have no excuse not to get out there and sell myself!

Thursday, 28 November 2002

Old News - Newsletter

I had a superb 3 weeks holiday in SA, and saw every friend and family member possible! Anyone who knows the size of my family will realise that this left me with very little time over, but I managed one day on the beach and a bit of shopping, as well some generous poolside time. And I think I was able to spoil just about everyone, which was nice ;-).

I got home to find Northerner waiting for me in arrivals with a big bunch of roses, and he's been showering me with attention since! Very nice to come home to.

It was also lovely to get back to my little house, although there seems to be a slow leak inside my washing machine and the kitchen was flooded... Not good when you have fake wood flooring - it doesn't look quite as good as before! It's stopped squelching now, so all is well.

I am almost back into my routine now. I went to gym today for the first time in a month, and I am SO unfit! I have managed to gain 2kg in the last 3 weeks, but with a little effort I should knock it back off quickly. Considering the vast amount of red meat, avocados and wine I consumed, I'm not surprised!

Wednesday, 30 October 2002

Old News - Newsletter October 2002

I am off to SA for 3 weeks this Friday night. I really can't wait - I can't remember the last time I saw decent sunshine!

I’ll be spending a week and a half in Pretoria, visiting friends and family, and a week and a half in Cape Town doing the same. Plus plenty of shopping, tanning, sightseeing, sunbathing, walking, basking, boozing and browning. Mmmmm.

Otherwise I’ve been madly busy. My project at work went critical a while ago, and I am desperately trying to finish my portions of it before I leave. I’m working lots of late evenings, and everyone knows how much I enjoy doing that! I’m still not particularly happy in the job, but at least I have one - the job market is still useless, so there is no escape. Living around the corner has made a wonderful difference though – even when I work until 7pm I get home earlier than I would have when I lived in London and left at 5:30!

Things are going swimmingly with Northerner. I don’t see much of him during the week as he works stupid hours, but we spend the weekends together, and he’s lovely. The weekend before last he took me away for the weekend to Cornwall, which was superb! Not only because it is a stunning part of the country, but because I can’t actually remember when last someone took me on holiday. I feel really spoiled! We passed our first Montheversay this week, and he still thinks I’m worth hanging around with, so I must be doing something right!

This last weekend was a wet and stormy one. It made me a bit homesick actually, as it was just like a good Cape Town howler, except it only lasted for a day. Lots of trees came down, and people were killed, and parts of the country are still without electricity… you can tell they don’t have storms often! I had arranged to travel North to Altons Towers rollercoaster park for the day on Sunday, but the weather was so bad I stayed in bed instead for most of the morning, and spent the rest of the day watching videos. I have since heard that the party went all the way there (several hours drive) only to find it closed! Sounds like I made the correct decision!

Anyway, between work and bloke and touching base a couple of times per week with various friends I don’t seem to have enough time to do my ironing let alone anything arty at home! One of these days things will settle down, and I will rig up the easel and find my sketchbook. But I am certainly not bored or lonely! I love living alone in my cosy little townhouse, and I am becoming decidedly selfish in my habits ;-). I had wondered how I would like living alone after 6 years of company, and I adore it!

It’s gone quite wintery here now. The clocks went back by an hour on Sunday, so now it is completely dark by 5pm. I’ve had the central heating on for the last month, and I’ve had to scrape ice off my car a couple of times in the mornings. But my house is warm and cosy, and I have all the bulbs in my garden to look forward to in Spring! And I am REALLY going to appreciate the African sun in just 4 days time.

Monday, 30 September 2002

Old News - Newsletter September 2002

I thought you'd all be fascinated to know that I am no longer single! I always was really crap at staying single, and it is nice to know nothing has changed ;-).

Anyone who has seen me over the last few months will have heard Northerner cropping up more and more often. He's a bloke I used to work with a couple of years ago, and although we had lost contact we met up again at a drinks evening in April. He was thrilled to hear I that was single and began a long and gentle courtship, in spite of no encouragement. It took me a very long time to get over the failure of my last relationship (as you know), and I was not interested in a rebound.

Anyhow, his patience and persistance have finally paid off, and I am having to pinch myself daily as he seems too good to be true!

So, details. He's English, from the North, 33, 6"2 and nicely proportioned ;-P, and an IT support project manager, working in Canary Wharf (London). And he thinks I'm super, which is always very nice! At the moment he lives near me, but is about to move to Docklands. Which means I'll have a London base on weekends - bonus!

Apart from getting to know my new boyfriend, I have been slowly furnishing my house and getting the garden under control. Work is a madhouse, but I seem to be getting the hang of my current tasks at last.

This past weekend was very nice. On Saturday Northerner and I went into London and had a few drinks with Candice and her mob on the Queen Mary for her birthday. Then halfway through the evening we wandered into Covent Garden and met up with R and S for a few drinks for their birthdays. Then staggered off to Chinatown for supper before heading home. On the Sunday we went to Leeds Castle, which is brilliant! I can really recommend it - super restored castle, lovely grounds and gardens, a fun maze, and a nifty grotto which deserves a look. There is a huge aviary, and plenty of picnic areas.

Thursday, 12 September 2002

Old News - Newsletter September 2002

Well, I am finally moving into my new home today. It took me a lot longer than I wanted, as the landlord and letting agents took their time getting things ready, but it actually works out financially better as I am not paying overlapping rent on two places!

Enormous thanks to Northerner, Mom and A, who helped me move 99% of my worldly goods into the garage of the property last weekend, driving in and out of London all day long! Not much fun, and I was completely shattered by the end! Since then I have managed with 4 plates, 2 mugs, a wok and a pyrex dish – it is amazing what you can get by with, especially as Mom and A were staying with me for a while too. Mom and A actually broke up a few days ago, but have managed to stay friends – although having them both stay with me was a little fraught ;-). A has gone to Norway to do some handyman work for a while, and then he is going back to SA.

Mom is going to be staying with me until Tuesday when she is off to SA for a few weeks for a holiday, and will be knocking my garden into shape in the meantime! I bought my first lawnmower yesterday – very exciting. The start-up costs are going to be huge for a while, as I am renting unfurnished for the first time in this country. I am picking up a nice mattress on Saturday, and that will have to do for the furniture budget for a month or two! So visitors had better be able to sit on the floor… Anyone keen to get out of London for a weekend is welcome if they don’t mind roughing it a bit! I’m about an hour out of Waterloo or Paddington, so London is easy for me – please don’t stop inviting me round ;-).

I am very much looking forward to living so close to work. The commute from London is becoming more and more irritating, especially as the days start drawing in and more people seem to be using their cars. The area I’ve picked to live in is almost rural, with lots of woods and fields nearby, and I am extremely close to a rambling route. But the shops, pub, library and video store are all within walking distance, so that’s nice. And I’m a short drive from Henley and all those lovely Thames villages… I can’t wait to dig out my hiking boots and get walking! There must be loads of walking clubs in the area, and I’ll be looking into them very soon. And I’ll be rigging my easel in my study as soon as I get settled… all the things I’ve been talking of for so long!

Friday, 30 August 2002

Old News - Newsletter August 2002

I have done yet another absolutely impulsive renting decision and found a new place to live. Within 2 days of starting to look. And it is utterly unlike what I started off looking for!

I began by looking for a little studio (batchelor) flat in Central Reading. After taking a look at what was on offer, and what sort of area I could afford (not good) I had a change of heart.

I have now taken a 2 bedroom terraced housie, with garden and garage, miles from the nearest station! But it is 15 min from work, and in a very quiet area (Binfield, for those who know). I should be able to move in next weekend! Ooooooo SO EXCITING!

I've already started planning what bulbs to plant, and which bits of furniture to save up for (lawnmower first I guess)! It is unfurnished apart from the kitchen, so I will be camping on the floor for a while. Not the first time.

Oh yeah, I have decided to hang on at my place of work as you might have gathered! They have told us we are moving to .net next year, which is a great incentive! And the job market is dead, so the grown-up thing to do is to lie low. Gotta act my age from time to time, if only to be unpredictable!

Cool bananas! I want to move now now now! Except for the packing bit - guess what I'm doing this weekend! And anyone with muscles and a car - doing anything on the 7th ;-)? yee hee hee! Just think - I'll be able to sleep late and still get to work on time!

Wednesday, 21 August 2002

Old News - Newsletter August 2002

This is a public apology to Mountain Man for all the nasty things I've been saying about him!

We had our first chat in months last night, and it turns out that he has had a serious girlfriend for a while, and didn't know how to tell me. So he just disappeared, spending every available moment at her place, and only coming home to change after I had left for work each day! In the meantime I was thinking he was being a revolting slapper, out all night every night!

Oddly enough, this was more upsetting than the fact that he has a girlfriend: I couldn't believe that someone I used to love was behaving so out of character! It is a huge relief to discover he is still a nice bloke, and that I can still trust my instincts.

This is going to sound wierd, but I am not bothered by him having a new girlfriend, although I am not ready to see them together, and living in the same place is still hard (2 days to go)! Our relationship was over a long time ago, and although I am of course jealous, it doesn't hurt.

I feel happier today than I have in a long time!
Aren't I peculiar?!

Tuesday, 13 August 2002

Old News - Newsletter August 2002

Another month slinks past...

10 days until Mountain Man is out of my life forever! And counting - I actually have my entire office counting with me at the moment! It feels remarkably like the end-of-school-year countdown to the summer holidays. The last few weeks have been completely unbearable, as he has now begun sleeping around in addition to simply destroying his liver, and it is doing my head in! 10 days to go...

J and D are back with me after a quick trip home for a wedding. They have found a flat at last, and should be moving in next week. They've chosen one about 10 miles outside Reading, in a lovely rural area. I am looking forward to seeing it.

My Mom is housekeeping in London for August, filling in for a housekeeper on holiday, and it is great to have her nearby! I spent most of last weekend there. The place is just off Hyde Park, and I had forgotten how much I like that park. We walked the dogs all over it and around the Serpentine, and had a picnic in the long grass. I got my arms sunburnt again! I have a proper farmer's tan now - just my arms and neck! Very sexy.

Work is not great. Last week my company sent myself, another senior programmer and two project managers to our German office for 2 intense days of meetings. We worked 13 hours a day specifying a major project, and determining how long it would take us to write it properly. Then our bosses threw our calculations in the bin and told us to meet some completely arbitrary deadline. This means working plenty of unpaid overtime, to deliver an inferior product.

Which is why I will be giving notice on this job at the end of September - if I can last that long! I have been dissatisfied for a long time, but this is unacceptable. No benefits, no training, no overtime pay, bad location, and bad treatment - I'd rather be unemployed. I am job hunting at the moment, but I will be leaving regardless at the end of October. Then a holiday in SA - perhaps a very long one! And maybe another computer course while I am there to extend my skills, or a short contract, or maybe I'll go to Australia, or maybe I'll work with my Mom as a housekeeper for a bit, or perhaps I will have found a good job... The more I think about it, the more options open!

There has never been a better time to stop and reconsider my direction. I have no ties: no lease, no mortgage, no dependants, no debts, no boyfriend. And a very healthy savings account. So, why not? Quite exciting really!

So, I will not be moving to Reading any more when my lease expires. I'm not entirely sure what I WILL be doing - I'm looking around for a short let bedsit until the end of October, and looking into storage for my stuff.

This is not definite of course - I am VERY good at changing my mind! But I'll keep you posted.

Monday, 15 July 2002

Old News - Newsletter July 2002

I am madly busy at work, and I have had my cousin J and her husband D staying for the last month, so things are a bit busy at home too.

J and D are immigrating for a few years, and have shipped over everything including the kitchen sink and the cat (!). They are having a little trouble organising their lease references as D is employed from SA, which involves a lot more paperwork, but hope to move into their own place this weekend. It has been pretty cool having them staying though, as they have taken over cooking and washing-up duties, and they provide a nice buffer between Mountain Man and myself! Seriously, they’ve been a pleasure to live with!

Mountain Man has found work at last! He is back at the first company he ever worked for in the UK – having stayed in touch with people there and so getting the role through his contacts. The job market is so bad here that he would not have landed anything via normal channels. He was out of work for 4 months in the end, and is very chuffed to be back at work! (If you are thinking of coming over to do IT, be prepared to do barwork for a long time before you get a break!)

Mountain Man and I are getting along ok, but I cannot wait to get out of our flat-share. It is like living with a wayward and annoying little brother, as I still care about him but now have no control over his actions! And I’d prefer not to know what he gets up to! He has booked a place in P’s digs from September, so has somewhere fun to go to. He spends most weekends either with P or B (both complete animals), and I am happy for him that he has found somewhere with friends.

Mountain Man is being sent to Angola (!) for a month from mid-August, getting back the very day we have to move out of our flat! So he’ll probably move his stuff out before he goes, otherwise I can’t see it working! I am looking forward to him being gone for a while ;-) hee hee.

My job has gone from months of standstill to flat-out ballistic. The deadlines are stupid as ever, and I am certainly not noticing the days go by! They still won’t pay overtime though, so I am not killing myself! With the market the way it is I will be staying on here for a while longer, even though they don’t offer any perks to really make being permanent worthwhile. I suppose a steady salary is seen as a perk these days! Ho hum.

I have decided to move to Reading in September when we get out of our lease in Putney. Reading is close to work (20 min), yet only half an hour out of Central London, so I can still pop in for dinner and shows (don’t stop inviting me)! It is quite a big town, and has a university, so there is a good vibe. It is also an old town, so has some character. I need to live somewhere lively, otherwise I might as well get a cat and turn into an old woman right now – so little villages are out! I am looking for a little place on my own, and perhaps I will buy a little flat late next year when I have the deposit and know the area. It is about time I hoisted myself onto the property ladder! Once I am settled in Reading I will be looking into evening classes in painting and cookery etc as the weekend thing really isn’t working out! And there are loads of walking clubs around that area – I am so looking forward to it. I’m looking forward to living alone for a while too, and being totally selfish! My music, my TV, my mess, my diet and my hair in the bath – ah sweet singledom.

My gyming is going well, but I am doing something wrong as my fitness level has risen but my weight has not changed :-(. Drat. I have noticed clothes getting slightly looser, but perhaps I need to change my diet too to see a result. A little difficult with a full house! It is definitely the plan for when I move out though – a week or two of chicken salad and Tuna steak. Mmmm! I have bought myself a heart monitor and I am trying to exercise to a plan now, so maybe it just takes time. *Sigh*

My little old car is really not handling 60 miles a day. Its gearbox was a bit dodgy to begin with, but has been deteriorating badly lately! I have now lost fifth gear completely, and am nursing it along with the remaining four. I never could drive above 60mph (90kph) so there is not much difference really! But it is really irritating, and as I was quoted at least £600 to get it fixed (the car only cost £350) I am getting rid of it while I still can. I have found a pristine little red Citroen, 1997, 44000 miles, £2700, and pick it up on Wednesday! They are taking the old one as a trade-in for £200 (luckily they didn’t test-drive it) and I can’t wait! I might even be able to travel at the speed limit for a change!

That’s about it. No travel plans until November when I go to SA for a few weeks to see long-lost friends and family and their babies! I will be contacting you all there closer to the time to persuade you to take a day off to come to the beach, go wine-routing, or simply braai next to the pool with me! I am really looking forward to it!

Monday, 20 May 2002

Old News - Newsletter May 2002

I’ve been very quiet lately, but then I haven’t been up to much. I am still in my selfish pampering post-break-up hibernation state, which is how I deal with this kind of stuff. It seems to be working for me anyway, as each week is better then the last, and I’ve actually been kind of happy lately! I also got tired of people telling me to ‘get over it already’, so I just avoided everyone for a bit! I guess I take a little longer than most to bounce back.

Other than that things are going ok. Mountain Man and I are making friends again, which is nice. Having been great mates with someone for over 10 years it was very sad to stop talking. We went for a lovely long walk along the Thames from Putney to Barnes yesterday (absolutely stunning), and had a good heart-to-heart about stuff. We are both still very relieved to be out of our relationship, and it looks like we will be able to save the friendship too.

As you may know, Mountain Man has had a job offer, which has cheered both of us up. They are still working out the visa red tape, but he hopes to get the go ahead this week. It will be a huge weight off my shoulders too, as I was panicking about getting stuck with the whole rent!

My job is less than brilliant still. I am waiting for my new projects to come up to speed, as they are still in the planning phase, which I am not involved in. This new company does things by the book, which means you need half a forest of documentation before touching a keyboard. The same goes for maintenance of old projects. So I have practically nothing to do, and that which I do have I am eking out as long as possible! Ah well, at least I have a job. ;-)

I haven't quite got myself back into society, but I have great plans! Painting workshops, cookery weekends, rambling clubs... all quite exciting. I want to meet a whole new sphere of people, whose idea of a great time involves more than drinking themselves silly and then going raving. Grown-ups, I think they are called!

I've joined a gym in Bracknell, and so I am starting to shed the kilos I piled on after our break-up. Far too much comfort eating (and drinking!) has been going on, and my clothes are way too tight! It is nice to be getting back into an exercise routine.

So, my Bridget Jones ratio is in balance: out of lovelife, job and weight, only 2 (sometimes fewer) of the 3 can ever be under control at any one time!

My little rustbucket is in for repairs to the radiator, and I have realised just how much I have come to rely on it already! Getting to the gym, doing a decent grocery shop, and popping out to visit people has become so difficult! Just getting to work takes half an hour longer, stuck in a carriage with germ-factories sniffing and coughing. Eeeeuuuuw. On the up side, all the walking again has to help my weight-loss!

That’s about it. I am off to see star wars tonight, which I have been looking forward to! So, may the force be with you!

Wednesday, 24 April 2002

Old News - Newsletter April 2002

I am loving being car-mobile again after 3 years! It's old, red, rusty, rattley, can get to 70mph (120kph) if I REALLY have to overtake a lorry, otherwise rumbles along quite happily at 60mph.

But it cost practically nothing, and even after adding on insurance and breakdown cover comes to less than £1000. So, very cheap! Starts every time, and handles London traffic without overheating - what more can I ask for! I'm getting 9 miles to the litre... not sure if that's good or not.

My new office is going OK. We are doing lots of documentation, which is why I am writing a letter instead! I really need the car though, as we are miles from anything, in a business park type area. I'll be joining a nearby gym next month, which I am looking forward to! All this driving instead of walking is starting to show!

Mountain Man and I went to Holland on Saturday for a daytrip to see the tulips. It was something we'd booked ages ago, so decided to go through with in spite of being broken up. Personally I found it a bit of a strain!

We got up at 3am and drove to Gatwick, landed in Amsterdam at 8:00, and spent until 10am trying to get info about where to go. Then we caught a train to the tulip fields and looked into hiring bicycles. Mountain Man had a brainwave that we would train it into the heart of tulipland and then get bikes, meaning we wouldn't need to cycle as much. So we did, only to find ourselves in the thick of an annual flower float parade! It was fantastic, and we were so lucky to see it!

After that we discovered that they don't hire bikes there, and so set off on foot to tour the tulip fields. This proved to be exhausting, and I got really ratty after a couple of hours! We finally found a spectacular field to picnic beside, and a friendly householder to let me use his loo, and then I felt much better! Then hiked back to town and did a scenic train ride, then headed back to the airport and landed at 9pm. Drove home and collapsed - what a day!

Mountain Man went to friends for a braai on Sunday, and I begged off as I really needed time away from him for a bit! We don't fight, but I find being with him a lot stressful. He keeps talking about heading to SA for 6 weeks to save pounds while unemployed if he doesn't find a job soon, and I wish he would push off for a bit to let me start getting over him!

Having said that, I talked him into coming to a pub quiz near T's on Monday night as I wanted him to navigate! We drove right through the West End, around Picadilly, up Shaftsbury and past Chinatown... quite exciting. I would not have managed without him, and the way back was even worse! I shall need a lot more town driving to get the hang of the streets!

Mountain Man and I are still getting on OK anyway. He is enjoying being able to smoke, drink to excess, go clubbing, and stay out all night with mates without being whinged at. He is planning boys trips to Amsterdam and Ibiza... gah. Glad he's not my boyfriend! I am slowly starting to put feelers out into new groups of people, although at the moment all I want to do is stay in quietly and let the baggage fade away. A little hard to do with the Baggage itself sitting in front of the TV! It's going to be a very long 6 months.

Thursday, 11 April 2002

Old News - Newsletter April 2002

Well, it has now been over a week of 'being single'! I was very sad, now I'm kind of numb. Still not angry which is great! It was definitely the right decision.

Mountain Man is having a ball being a bloke - doing mad hikes (60km in one day last weekend!), golfing, clubbing, and all the things I don't like. And turning his room into a disaster zone - I have to stop myself going in to tidy!

I've been a bit busy to do much, but I have been spending time with my Mom, who is loving it! I promise to catch up with everyone soon, once my office move is over - that is dominating things at the moment. I have begun researching cookery weekends, painting weekends and rambling weekends - which I have always fancied doing!

We're not actually masochists - Mountain Man and I are not really expecting living together to work once we start dating - we just don't have many options right now! We can't give notice for 6 months, Mountain Man has nowhere to go, and I can't afford the place on my own. So we are staying together by default really... seems to be working. No fights, just a strange feeling when we wish each other goodnight and go to our separate rooms.

So anyway, let me tell you of the last couple of weeks. As you know we moved to Putney 3 weeks ago - sorry there has been no housewarming, but things have been a bit wierd! The move went well, and we are loving our new flat - it is about 15 mins from Putney rail, and a little further from East Putney tube (although 4 busses come very close). It's really big and airy, and has a garage too. And 2 bedrooms - thank goodness!

For Easter we went to Barcelona. We got there late Thursday night, slept and got up the next morning to find it pouring with rain! We scuttled in and out of museums, had a walk along the seafront in horizontal rain (glad I have short hair), found a place for a lovely seafood lunch, and got back to our hotel around 4. Then a siesta, and out for dinner at 8 - we drank many litres of beer and wine with dinner, and made friends with a couple of ladies from Newcastle who were a hoot.

Then we found a tiny funky bar for a nightcap. Around this point Mountain Man bumped the table and knocked a beer across me, so I tipped one over him (thinking it was funny). We had a little spat about it, went back to the hotel, sorted things out, and broke up. No, I don't remember why, and neither does he. But it has been coming a long time, and was perfectly mutual. We'd each been waiting for the right time to bring it up, and apparently the first day of a 4 day holiday in Barcelona was it!

We chatted until 4 in the morning, then passed out. The next morning (Saturday) we agreed that we still felt the same in the cold light of day, and dragged our hangovers out into the city. We followed a walking tour for most of the morning, had a lie down, and then walked down to the harbour. We took an awesome cable car ride from a huge tower in the harbour to a hill and back - superb views! Then back to the hotel for a bath and change.

I started feeling really ill, but figured I was just still hungover, and at 9 we went restaurant hunting. We got into a very super one at 9:45, and ordered. I was feeling horrid, but nibbled a little bread hoping my stomach would settle. When my main course came I took one sniff and bolted for the door! Poor Mountain Man finished his meal in solitary splendour, paid and left with staff sniggering at him, and got back to the hotel to find me still crouched over the Big White Telephone.

This continued violently from both ends (yes, too much detail I know) until about 3am, when I merely felt dreadful. Mountain Man woke at 8 feeling grim, and began Driving the Great White Bus by midday. We reckon I caught a tummy bug, and gave it to him. So a joint miserable 36 hours proceeded... we didn't leave the hotel at all on Sunday!

On Monday morning we shot out to do some frantic sightseeing - and crammed in as much Gaudi as possible, before turning weak as day-old lambs at midday and grabbing a taxi to the airport. And so home, where we moved Mountain Man's things into the spare room, and began this strange living arrangement.

Last weekend Mountain Man went off with C to do an organised 37 mile hike, involving navigation and so on. There was a 13 hour cutoff, and they made it in 12! Then drove back to London! Madness...

I went to my Mom's on Friday night, and stayed until Sunday night. We had a lovely time - A is away so we hardly drew breath for chatting for 2 days! I got back Sunday night, and Mountain Man's feet were still very swollen from his hike, and he could hardly walk!

My office moves over this coming weekend, and things are a bit fraught. Every project except my baby have been migrated over just fine - mine fails. It has taken the IT team 6 days to get things working, and we still don't understand the problem. Luckily they let me go at 8:30pm Friday night, as everyone else hung on all weekend trying different configurations. I really hate computers sometimes.

I will be at work on Saturday making sure things go alright. *sigh*

My Mom is picking me up from work on Saturday, and I'll stay there until Monday, when I am going to Drive to work. Yes - I have a CAR! Mom found it at a farm auction for £350! The insurance for it costs £465! I haven't driven in two years, and so I am a bit nervous... and getting home is going to be very interesting! Think of me on Monday evening!

Tuesday, 2 April 2002

Old News - Newsletter April 2002

Dear Friends

This is to let you all know that Mountain Man and I have broken up.

We have realised that we have grown apart over the last few years, and that our goals and interests are now very different. We were only staying together at the last because it was comfortable, and now we have decided that is not enough.

Our break up was amicable, and we didn't fight about it, just agreed that our relationship was over. So we want to assure all our mutual friends that we don't intend avoiding each other.

On the contrary, we are going to try and live as digsmates and see how it goes. Yes, I know, wierd. But we are still very good friends and hope to keep it that way.

We are both a bit sad, and also relieved, but not angry. We had a good 5 and a half years, and don't regret any of it.

Tuesday, 19 March 2002

Old News - Newsletter March 2002

A good friend of mine once stated that any woman who passed the age of 30 without being married was a lesbian. So you will all be glad to hear that I have now reached that significant age without the benefit of matrimony, and am awaiting the change with interest. I have had a very short haircut so far, but the ‘comfortable shoes’ have yet to materialise!

As I was in France skiing over my birthday, I had a party in London the Saturday before. J and T kindly let me use their flat, and 12 of my closest friends came along for oodles of snacks and much, much champagne. Cheers to everyone who came for making it such an enjoyable evening! (and to those who couldn’t make it, you missed a great time!) It was a lovely chatty, boozy, laid-back evening, and at around midnight we all staggered over the road to an indie club where the music was excellent. Then back to the flat at 3 for more champagne… I had one of the worst hangovers on record the next day! 9 of the 12 stayed over, and we limped down the road to the greasy spoon for a fry-up at about midday on Sunday. I had meant to produce breakfast, but was too ill to face it! I still felt terrible on the Monday, and work was a trial!

On Friday the 8th Mountain Man, T, J and I went to France to go skiing in Les Arcs. We travelled by train, which is not bad – it means you get 2 extra days skiing, as the train arrives at 7am on Saturday, and leaves the following Saturday at 10pm. I managed to drink far too much far too fast on the train there, and was not feeling well when we arrived in Les Arcs. Mountain Man and J had stayed up most of the night sponsoring the bar, and were not too good either! But as we could only check-in at 5pm, we bravely hired skis and launched ourselves at the chairlift.

I decided to try out snowblades (v short skis, turned up back and front) for the week, while the others took skis. They’re cool, you can get down any slope, no matter how steep or icy, as their turning radius is so small! On the downside they react to the surface a lot, and I never felt quite safe at high speed.

Mountain Man, T and J are very good, and very fast, skiers. I had spent a large amount of time in the gym before the holiday building up my leg muscles, in the hope that I could keep up through brute strength. It seemed to work a bit, as I was not too far behind at each stop (and my legs didn’t get sore - bonus)! I will never be as fast as they are though, even on proper skis – my sense of terror kicks in too soon at high speed!

I’m a bit of a lazy, social, fair-weather skier, and 8 days in a row of 6 hours a day is a little too much skiing for my liking. I took a day off after 3 days, and an afternoon off a couple of days later, and towards the end of the week tended to head for home an hour or two before the others. Unfortunately there is not much else to do in a ski resort, and I was bored silly! If I go skiing again it will be in a big group, with at least one other lazy person to chill out with.

Les Arcs is a superb skiing resort. We were very lucky with the snow too, as they had a huge snowfall the week before, and the piste was still 1m thick at the bottom and 2m at the top. It was getting pretty thin at the bottom by the time we left, and I felt sorry for any novices trying to dodge the grass! There are about 4 villages that you can ski between, and one of them is very high up and always had excellent snow. It was very sunny for most of the time (we all got sunburnt on the first day, and now have sunglass-tans!) and surprising warm. This is the latest in the year I have skied, and the sun is getting strong!

I had a great birthday – I didn’t even notice it! The best way to spend your 30th I say! (or the beginning of your fourth decade as someone said – sounds even worse!)

The rest of this week will be spent packing up our flat, as we move on Saturday. Yuck, I hate packing. My Mom is coming to visit tomorrow, and we are having a ‘packing party’. Heh, I wonder if I’ll be able to find anything that was packed after the second bottle of wine!

Mountain Man is still job-hunting. The IT job market is really horrible, and he is starting to talk of taking absolutely anything offered. He is thinking of perhaps nipping over to Nepal for a month in the hope that things pick up while he is gone. He was planning to go next year, but if he has to take a permanent job now then he won’t be able to :-(. Is anyone out there interested in going along? On the bright side (for me), he has taken over shopping and cooking duties while he is at home, and has been trying out our cookbooks. I have been eating like a king for the past few weeks and I’ve begged him to use the ‘slimmers’ cookbook this week, as my clothes are starting to creak at the seams! (also since I’ve promised myself this week off from the gym, after all the activity before skiing!)

Tuesday, 19 February 2002

Old News - Newsletter Feb 2002

Well, interesting times over here (I do believe that's a Chinese curse or something).

As you may know by now, Mountain Man has been made redundant - well we're 99% sure he is. He'll find out for certain on Thursday, but we're quite sure. He got told last Wednesday afternoon, and hasn't had to go into work since - which is a bit of a giveaway! His company have decided to stop developing products, and do consulting with their existing product, or something like that. So bye-bye developers. It's a bit of a shock, but we've almost got our heads around it. Luckily he has a bit of money saved, so I don’t have to support him just yet!

Mountain Man is now frantically trying to get another company to take over his work permit, on which he still has 3 years. If he swings it then this will have been all for the best! He was fed up with his job, and was just killing time waiting for the market to improve. He's hoping to get back into contracting, at which point I am going to be horribly jealous – permanent work sucks! We’re not expecting him to have much of a problem, although the market could be much better.

In spite of this we have decided to carry on with our move into a bigger, more expensive flat! We’ve found a lovely 2-bedroom flat in Putney, and will be moving at the end of March. It’s very spacious, and even has a garage to store bicycles and stuff – I’d love to get a car, but probably won’t in the near future!

I’ve finished repainting our current flat back to cream, and taken down all the shelving I put up. All our things are now stacked in piles against the walls again… sigh. Our next flat has lots of built-in cupboards, and I can’t wait!

My job move is progressing in a whirl of paperwork. The company that has bought us is a huge established one, and so they have lots of paperwork routines in place to which we have to conform. I haven’t written a document since I was studying, and they’re going to send us on training to teach us how!

T and J are now engaged. They’re expecting to marry next January, and the planning is already in full swing. As one of the bridesmaids I get to trail around choosing dresses and fabric and patterns and hen night and so on. I am not having a wedding if I get married – far too much effort!

I’ve had a raise and a bonus in the past few weeks, which was very nice indeed. I’ve slapped most of the bonus into savings, and the rest will pay for my 30th birthday party in 2 weeks and my trip home in November. The raise will half cover my rent increase!

What with job loss, job move, home moving and turning 30 we are a little stressed! Interesting times indeed.

Wednesday, 30 January 2002

Old News - Newsletter January 2002

A whole month into the New Year, time flying as always.

It's been a busy month. In the first week I went to Paris with my Mom for a couple of days. We've been before, and decided to do the art galleries this time. It was very cool, we spent most of a day in the Louvre, and a morning in the Musee D'Orsay, with plenty of wine and cheese breaks, and an awesome steak in the evening. Plus some sightseeing thrown in to and from the museums. We'd managed to get a free upgrade to first class on the Eurostar too, which means free wine and a meal on the way... very cool!

One thing I have to warn you about though. There I am thinking I am a veteran traveller, and I got horribly conned in Gare de Nord. We'd got in late at night from London, and I had a pretty good idea which Metro tickets I wanted, so we happily toddled down to the ticket area. All the windows were closed, and the machines would only take Euro coins, so we had a bit of a struggle, and eventually got change and came back. Then we got 'helped' by a French bloke, who insisted we had to buy two 2-day passes (E100), and we were so tired and fed up and struggling with the language we finally agreed, and as we didn't have enough coins he kindly paid with his card, and we handed him cash. The next day our tickets wouldn't work, and it turned out we had two singles... worth E5. I don't know how he did it, but it was very slick and I had no idea! So watch out.

Mountain Man came back from SA on the 14th, L also got back that week from Oman, and B got back from SA the week after, so we've had lots of reunions. N and N have arrived from SA too, and we've seen a bit of them, so a nice social month.

The weekend before last I came down with a cold, and stayed home when Mountain Man went for 'quick drinks' with mates, and got home the following evening after going clubbing and staying over. Nothing changes.

On the job front things are interesting. My company has been acquired by a big one out in Bracknell (near Windsor), and we will all be working there by May. It should be a good move for me, as I have gone as far as I can in my current place, and was getting very bored. They are massive, and international, and committed to training and new technology and to keeping their staff. Might be good.

We are going to have to move, as the commute from where I now live is too far, and so we will be moving to Putney in March. I am now frantically taking down shelves and repainting our flat back to the way we found it!

Wednesday, 2 January 2002

Old News - Newsletter January 2002

I am back at work after a lovely relaxing break. My company gave everyone the days between xmas and new year off for the price of one day's annual leave, which was very sweet of them.

I can't remember what I'm meant to be working on, so I'll postpone it a little longer by writing email...

I think I last wrote before my company xmas do... it was great fun, and I didn't get too blotto. I made it home on the last train without falling asleep, and felt halfway reasonable the next day. Not so the rest of my office (some of whom had been in the hotel bar until 3), and we all repaired to the pub at midday for the hair of the dog. At 3ish I decided to go home for a nap before Mountain Man's do that evening. I had a nice snooze, dressed and dolled up, and called him for directions... apparently I sounded so out of it that he told me I didn't have to come out, so I had a nice long bath and an early night instead! Just as well as he staggered in reeking of vodka at 7 the next morning!

The rest of the weekend was very low-key, with both of us resting our livers in preparation for xmas.

On xmas eve I travelled through to my Mom's in the afternoon. She was busy preparing the xmas dinner for the family at the Hall, so I took a bottle of wine across and sat at the kitchen table chatting. Mountain Man arrived in the evening and joined me, and towards the end of the evening A's and A also came across. So the 'staff' were in the kitchen while 'family' were in the living room! Straight out of an old novel... we took our portion of dinner back to the servants quarters after serving the family, and had a very nice evening opening pressies, and drinking lots of wine.

I woke up feeling a bit under the weather the next day, just in time to see my Mom off to the Hall to prepare xmas lunch - and didn't see her again until 5. A's daughter and I made lunch for the rest of us, and we chilled out watching TV and reading, and Mountain Man flew to SA in the evening.

Mom and A were given Boxing Day off, so after a slow and lazy start we all went for a pub lunch and then a long frosty walk on the downs near Uffington. It was freezing, with thick frost on the frozen ground, and bits of snow in the wind. Very bracing!

The next couple of days were very lazy, and I came back to London on Friday to an empty flat *sniff*. I hibernated over the weekend, and on New Years Eve caught up with J and T to tag along to a New Years do. We went to a house party with a bunch of Jon's Cambridge mates - 6 couples and one baby... very grown-up and civilized. We had a 5 course dinner, each course organised by a couple (T and I did the starter) and all of it really impressive gourmet stuff. Then we had port and coffee in the lounge and watched Big Ben strike midnight and played Trivial Pursuit until quite late.

Everyone stayed over, and we had a massive fry-up brunch, and then a long frosty walk through lanes and fields (the long frosty walk seems to be a very English festive thing).

Then home, and a very early night. I managed to set my alarm for PM, so overslept somewhat - but got in to work on time anyway!

So, now back to normal. It is wierd not having Mountain Man around, and I'm looking forward to him getting home in 2 weeks.