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The ‘Big Move’

Long story short, my boyfriend was offered a funded a Phd at Exeter uni in June 2014, and just like that we were moving 150 miles away! My Dad suggested that we buy a house with his help rather than give all our money to a landlord via rent, so we started our house hunting.

Buying a house is stressful at the best of times, but we didn’t know the area, we were on a time scale of two months, and a budget which was not our money to squander.

In the end we got one of my favourites that we’d seen – but not after a lot of stress due to the vendors not dropping the price after the Estate Agent had assured us there would be wriggle room, and really it was £10,000 over it’s real value, the searches taking 5 weeks instead of 5 days because the council had just sacked 4 people in that department, and finding out the house was not empty as the vendor had stated but in fact her son was living there, and that’s why they were delaying on signing the final contracts to set the moving in date.

These delays also meant that rather than the 2 weeks in mid-late August we’d planned on settling in and pootling about together, Pat ended up travelling backwards and forwards, staying in his Mum’s friend’s Auntie’s house (thank goodness they were lovely people) and I ended up packing up our house by myself. It wouldn’t have been so bad were we not incredible hoarders. I ended up throwing out 18 bin bags of rubbish and in the end I didn’t have time to sort through everything. The fact we were moving to a house that had almost half the floor space of where we’d been living did not help.

3 lonely nights of 2-3 hours sleep on a mattress on the floor surrounded by crap was not conducive to healthy stress levels, and when, finally, at 1am. on 18th September I loaded the last box into the van and went to my parents house for 4 hours sleep before getting up at 5.30am to go and pack the very last of my stuff into my car, to say I was exhausted was an understatement. When I finally arrived at the house at 2pm my Dad and Uncle who had driven the Van down had already, with the help of Pat, unloaded the boxes into the house. There was no room to move, boxes piled high and furniture in it’s place but looking cramped, and I knew I didn’t have long to wait before I had to undo all the packing all over again, although at least this time I had a lot of help from Pat.

The one good thing through this was that my boss at Arundel Castle, where I was working, was fantastic, and would at the beginning of each week ask me if I thought I’d be there next week, letting me carry on until the 12th September. I was so very sad to leave that job, but it was not full time all year round, and I only got it because we were moving and I couldn’t stay in my permanent job at a Homelessness charity, so it’s swings and roundabouts really.

This meant however that I arrived in Exeter without a job, and ended up temping at the local council. What was meant to be some simple temping to pay the bills ended up being a high pressured job dealing with School budgets and teacher’s wages, the position vacant only because they hadn’t been able to re-recruit during a restructure. My excel skills rocketed (exciting!…or not.) and the people were nice enough but I became more and more stressed and it was not the job I needed at the time, and so once the restructure had taken place and they could advertise for the job again, I decided it was time to leave.

In this time, poor Pat had been enduring what is probably one of the most unsettled starts to a Phd in the entire history of time. Back and forwards not just between Chichester and Exeter (Oh the money we wasted on petrol and train fares!) but also between the Uni and Sandy Park in a city he didn’t know, trying to divide his time between them and help me at home as well.

The hardest part was probably that we argued a couple of times. Pat and I never argue, and I know lots of people say that but we really, really don’t. And to be honest, we didn’t exactly argue, but I felt like we’d become a bit distant, Pat was stressed and worried that he’d moved us here just for his Phd and was letting me down by not finding everything easy (not that he’s hard on himself or anything, and completely disregarding the fact that I’d wanted to move to the South West since I was 9 years old!) and in the end I had a few choice words about how going into himself was the opposite of what would make me feel better and that perhaps actually telling me what was stressing him out and allowing me to help him organise stuff might be useful – as I am excellent at time management (but only when it comes to work, my day to day life is generally a shambles that seems to just about come together more by luck than anything I’ve done), and Pat is not, not to mention the fact that he was being pulled in every direction with everyone believing they were the most important and deserving of his time, probably myself included! He seemed to believe he must accept no help from anyone or everything was proven to be a catastrophic failure, thankfully this is no longer the case, and we are back to our normal, disgustingly happy selves. 😀

If anyone is going through a big move away from home, I feel your pain. I also have some tips on how to badger estate agents, solicitors and vendors to the point where they just do what you ask – if interested do let me know, although it’s basically passive aggressive persistence….
So to sum up, it was a pretty stressful time, I think especially because neither I or Pat had moved away for Uni, I was missing out on my sister’s new baby, when I had seen her first little girl 1-3 times a week for the first year of her life, and we knew exactly 0 people in the area, as everyone we knew was somewhere between Chichester, Brighton and London.

However throughout all this, we were actually having some really lovely times, and all of those lovely times will now follow in the form of blog posts on  – some 6 months too late, but it’s only now that I’ve finally set my mind to writing it down.
Basically I promise that not all my posts will be this full of moaning and pessimism…

Hopefully I’ll catch up over the next week or two and it’ll be in real time from then on. I’ve found so many amazing places, eaten so much good food and met so many nice people, and cats, many cats, and I am very excited to share them with you. 🙂


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The Deer Rut..!

I happen to work in a lovely Historic property called Petworth House, which also happens to have a 700+ acre Deer park, which makes for good photos and relaxing walks in rain or shine.


This is the time of year when the crisp autumn breeze is in the air, along with some Deer love! The Bucks in the fallow Deer herd start feeling a bit frisky, and choose their lady-wives for the season, the problem being of course they all want each others lady-wives and have to fight to keep them! We were lucky enough to spot some Rutting, the clatter of their antlers echoes across the park as they fight,

Bucks (Stags) Rutting

and they spend a lot of time doing a weird hooty-grunting sound to let all the other Bucks know to keep away once they have got a group of Does.

We did, unfortunately, witness a ‘Fenton’ moment too, although this dog was called Sophia – it does annoy me, as it caused a stampede of around 100 Deer into the paths of other walkers in the park!  Just remember if you do walk near Deer or livestock with a Dog, especially with a working breed (Sophie was a Border Collie) no matter how well behaved they are usually they can lose their heads in the face of all those animals to herd..!

We also saw other types of interesting Deer behaviour; a Buck would face the Does in his group and put his head down and paw at the ground, the Does would then all move in the direction he was ‘pointing’ to behind him with the pawing hoof. We also saw some young Bucks practice fighting, although they still ended up with cuts on their face!

small deer rutting

And to finish, this very sweet tableau of a Buck scratching a Doe’s back, they had a little face nuzzle after this. 🙂



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Damp Squids.

We have a thing, the boyfriend and I, that we call  ‘A Damp Squid’. It’s when someone tries to use a well known phrase, that they have apparently misheard and/or misunderstood their whole lives. We call it that because that was the first one I came across on Tripadvisor (a veritable mine of damp squids), and after laughing at what I thought was a typo, I realised the dand b are really quite far apart, and that they’d used the term twice!

So we started making a list whenever we come across one, (we don’t look on purpose, and if they look like a typo we only put it in if it’s been used twice – it’s a science) and here it is for your guffaw inducing enjoyment:

Damp Squid

stuck in a time warb

ride rough shot

Pacifically (specifically)

cooking with grass! (Cooking on gas – one of my favourite damp squids)

In the feeble position (fetal)

Daytime rest bite (respite)

over priced load of old tut

I error on the side of caution

A sorted tale of warning

They are heads above the parapet (rest)

Very open and slightly sole less

Scolding hot

A deffernat no/Discusting (a spelling error I know, but a really common one and it annoys me so it’s in)

Made an RSVP, did not honour our RSVP (reservation)

Dumbfunded! (Used 3 times)

His breath was discussing. (Quite the skill)

It was all makro food (Perhaps a colloquial term I haven’t heard for microwaved? :s)

Just a few months out of the states and away from my beloved Mexican food is enough to make me rapid for some properly spiced chicken

Brick walk (meant to be brisk, I think)

Clucking up the wrong tree

Giving me ‘Piece of mind’ (Gross. I would’ve complained too)

A better advantage point (vantage, Jenny, it’s vantage.)

Don’t get me wrong, we all do a Damp Squid now and again – in fact Pat did 2 in one day but I forgot to write them down! Would love to hear any others people have come across/said themselves 🙂

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Saying goodbye to my baby, my pet cat Kracker.

I wrote this yesterday:

I have to write a post today, although I haven’t bothered for months, because I need to get something out, a cathartic process I suppose.

Because today I had to have my pet cat, Kracker (Jacob’s Cream Krackers in full) put to sleep. Here is a little video taken a few days before. (link works now)

He was aged 15 years, 1 month and 1 day, and had an aggressive throat cancer than closed his throat until he could barely get liquid down to his stomach.

If he had not had this, he would have lived another decade, I know it – as his liver, teeth, kidneys and heart were, the vet had said, all of a cat half his age.

It was the hardest decision I ever had to make, but it was having him put to sleep or watching him starve to death, and he had already lost his little chubby belly ‘swing’. When I went to reach for it to grab/tickle his belly, I found just hard smoothness and knew it was the right time to say goodbye, that he would be suffering if I left it any longer. For 4 weeks I’d been pureeing cat food and feeding it to him off of my finger, driving to my parents house so he could still use the garden there. It was the only way he could eat without it getting stuck as he always ate too fast by himself and it couldn’t get down, coming up with a sad little gag and squeak thing he did, I’d always knew it was coming because he would lick his lips a lot like cats do when they’re nauseous, and grind his poor little teeth.

It was as peaceful as it could’ve been, even the vet cried a little, and with the first injection he fell asleep in my arms, his poor little body going limp against my chest.

I hope he could still hear me, as I did the little chirrups we always did to each other when having 2a.m cuddle (he would always wake me up with the chirrupy meow because he knew this would mean sure head scratches and stroking) so I hope he could hear.

But mostly I just stroked him. I couldn’t stop stroking him, even after he’d had the last injection and I saw him go. I had one last sniff of his belly and neck, because ever since he was a kitten he’s always smelled of digestive biscuits, and one last kiss on his forehead before they wrapped him in the dressing gown he always loved sleeping on (it was my favourite as it was so soft, but it became his as he loved it so much and slept on it so often) and took him away for cremation.

When I’m not crying I want to. There is already a hole and I dread to think how long I will look out for him when I drive in the driveway, think of buying him treats when I’m in the supermarket, how long it will be before I stop finding his hairs on my clothes (his dad was a persian, his mum a feral farm cat, so he was the cutest of moggies with hugely thick fur!).

Some people will not understand, say he was just a pet, one person even asked me “You’ll get another one though won’t you?”.

There is no ‘other one’. I don’t miss ‘a cat’, I miss Kracker. all his little quirks. Like how he would only jump on the bed after I switched the light off, how he was the only cat I’ve ever known who preferred to have his fur stroked backwards, how he would sneak in my bedroom window from the low roof, or meow at it at 3 in the morning to let him in if I’d left it shut. The way he modified his meows to squeakier high pitched ones when he wanted something because we cooed over him so much the first time he did it. The fact he loved cheese above all else and his left cheek and lip would always go a little puffy after he ate it. When I bent down and asked “can I have kiss” – he would always jump up on his back legs and rub his face on mine.

He had some scrapes in his life too. We left him collarless and microchipped him after he came home sans collar one day, and I found it hanging off of the branch of a tree. He got bitten and it because infected so he had to have a plastic ‘collar’ – and was so dejected he came in to where dad and I were playing monopoly, swept all the houses off with his tail and did the tiniest little meow, before permitting me to have him on my lap, which he only ever did when he was poorly, and also in this last year or two.

When a person dies, other people understand, it’s another human, it’s family or a friend you spoke to. But with pets it’s almost as if it’s something odd or strange, despite the fact that you spend more time with your pet than you do most people. Kracker was there throughout my childhood to my mid 20’s, a constant source of cuddles, purrs and a friend who was wholly accepting when everything else was going wrong. I was there from his birth, first holding him when he was 3 days old, and he grew up to be the most gorgeous human-colour cat, with green eyes that sometimes went turquoise, and reflected one green one red in photos.

What was most difficult was making a decision for him. I would have given anything for him to talk just for 30 seconds so I could ask him if he was in pain, if he’d rather starve than be put to sleep, but I know which one I would rather for myself, and had to make that decision for him.

But I know that know he is at peace, that he had a perfect life for a cat, acres of fields to hunt in, no busy roads, constant food, someone always there to stroke or play with. Even his cattery was only a 1 minute drive away, and he used to visit there sometimes on his longer adventures! I believe in reincarnation as well, so I can only assume he will of course come back as something awesome, although I can’t imagine him being something any more amazing than he was.

I will cry again, although it doesn’t seem possible I am still crying now. I cannot imagine what it’s going to be like knowing I won’t see him again, won’t call for him again, won’t see him in the garden rolling in the grass in the sun. He was loved by us all, but he was my baby,and no one could ever replace him.



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A rather large update…

So, it’s been a while – as usual! 

Here’s a quite summary of what’s happened in my life since my last post.

1) I’ve been writing lots more, which is good.

2)I had the boss from hell, which was bad. Actually he wasn’t from hell, more like crazy-no social boundaires-misogynist-land. This resulted in a stress related stomach ulcer that meant I went to A&E at 4a.m and has left me with a tummy that can deal with 95% less alcohol, 50% less chillies and 75% less Orange juice than before. On the upsise I lost a much needed stone. Only 2 to go.

3) I went to Cornwall and had a super awesome time- (much) more on that later hehe.

4) I turned 25. This was depressing. But I had some awesome London times, going to the Shakespeare Exhibition at the British Museum, and going to see “Bleak Expectations” being recorded at the BBC Radio Theatre.

5) Pat and I had our 4 year anniversary ❤

6)I got an offer for a new job at a company that makes underwear/swimwear/clothes for women who have had Mastectomies, which starts next week – most exciting. Pat also got a job as Lab technician at the Uni, so for the first time ever we will be in full time employment at the same time (that’s what happens when you start going out the month before a recession is announced :p)

7) Christmas happened, which I’m pretty sure wasn’t an exclusive occurrence in my life, it was pretty good, but marred by the fact that the boyf and I both had the Norovirus swiftly followed by the weirdest cold/flu thing EVER. Complete with itchy faces (?!) and sinuitis so bad I didn’t sleep for 3 days. I even watched some early morning documentaries on Spanish Artists. Most interesting… Otherwise I managed to not be too grouchy about Christmas. Even got our tree TWO weeks before christmas. Usually we go a few days before to get some money off, lol.

8)I got a little further in the family trees, still haven’t found two elusive men from the mid 1850’s families, though.

9)I’ve been getting back into cooking lately. So much so I’m going to finally start my food blog – I’ve just ordered some bits from the Japan centre as well as the only Japanese food I’ve made before is Sushi – this will change soon!.


So that’s a summary, some stuff I’m going to do individual posts for, like the Shakespeare exhibition which was AMAZING – some stuff, like the weird boss who continuously made sexually suggestive comments, tried to make me take his prescription pain killers and treated me like his PA, as well as the fact I was the only other person in the office when he wasn’t there (so doing reception, marketing, orders, cleaning, invoicing, tenders, dealing with customers, complaints, web orders etc etc etc) whilst forcing me to give the most abysmal customer service in the world… well, that’s all I’ll say about that.

I’m not one for New Years (I prefer All Hallows Day), but 2013 already looks a little better than 2012, not least because Pat and I may finally be able to visit Morrocco/Italy/Orkney Islands, and I may finally fully finish a novel to send off to publishers (I fully expect to be rejected, but that’s not the point).

Anyways, this should explain why I may be doing blog posts in the next few weeks about stuff that happened months ago…!!!

Happy Festive season everyone xXx



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Parents who infuriated me today.

Being a parent is tough, so I’m told (again and again). I really do get that, but sometimes you just see parents doing something that is so ridiculopus you want to grab them and shake them and shout “NOOOOOOOO!” Until they understand what it is you’re talking about.

For example I was in a second hand book shop near me today. One boy wanted the next book in an adventure series he was reading. His Mum first of all scoffed at the idea he had read them all, then told him he ‘Had enough’ books.

One thing my child will never hear from me is that they have ‘enough’ books. Unless perhaps they can’t actually get into their bedroom anymore. This alone made me inwardly do the ol’ tut ‘n’ eye roll, but then she followed it with “Just use your money to buy some sweets instead.”  Just… WOW.

Ridiculous parent no.2 was defeated by her teenage daughter, who was looking at books from the ‘Spirituality’ section. As a teenage girl myself, my Mum bought me my first pack of Tarot cards, and herself purchased a book on ‘real’ fairies. Not because she was a believer, just because it’s fun, and also GOOD to read about everything you can, and keep an open mind. Also whatever your opinion on Tarot cards, sitting down and doing a Tarot ‘spread’ is calming and usually very reassuring, something all teenage girls could do with, I reckon.

After a small tussle where the Mum tried to rip the books from her daughters hands whilst muttering “It’s ridiculous, you will put them back, it’s all nonsense!” The girl stalked off with the line “It’s MY money from Grandma, I’m getting them.” I had to bite my tongue against a “HURRAH” but could not help the grin.

So -I hereby make a promise to my future self (who will no doubt read this and think “Pfft, what did old me know? Come back when you’ve got 3 kids!”) that no child of mine will be stopped from reading anything, except maybe Mein Kampf, and books on Scientology.


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Why the Recession has made me a complainer

So, you buy a multipack of crisps, open up the bag, and find one or two have burst inside. You sigh, try one from an open pack just in case it isn’t stale, spit it out back into the packet when you find it’s chewier than a chewy thing, sigh, throw them away, get a non-burst pack – and move on with your life. Or maybe you buy some onions and find half are mouldy in the middle – no big deal, they’re like 12p each. Or maybe you get a hot drink, and it tastes of sour milk, or has hair in it, but by now you’re on the train and by the time you get back to the station that evening you really can’t be bothered to complain. Right? Well, for me, – NOT ANYMORE!

The recession, combined with my lack of job (also I am told, due to the recession) has left me distinctly fed up of paying too much for frankly inferior products. I’m not sure if stuff is getting crapper, or I’m just noticing it more, but either way I resent paying good money for mouldy/tasteless/hairy food.

Happily, due to my lack of job, I have the time to write narky letters to the offending companies, and so I have become a complainer.

I actually got £15 for the hair in my mocha. I haven’t spent them yet because I haven’t been to a train station for a while, but they have no date on so it’s all good. Rather diappointing was the £4 I got from a well known yoghurt company for finding mould on the lid – Haven’t they heard of Botulism? I could’ve DIED, there’s no way £4 of yoghurt vouchers covers that stress….walker’s gave me £4 too, but wanted me to mail the entire multipack back which would’ve cost me £4 in packing and postage. Turns out all they wanted was the codes on the packet but assume their customer base will not understand what they mean… really? I took back a multipack of peppers that had 2 mouldy ones in it, and got a new pack plus a refund, which wasn’t too bad.

My most recent complaint was (sensitive men – and maybe women – skip this bit, I’m about to talk about laydee’s things’) about some sanitary pads. They’re a natural brand, all cotton, none of those bleaches that one doctor told me ‘slowly erode the vagina’. Yes, he said that. Anyways, WOVEN IN to my lovely, non-bleached organic slightly smug sanitary pad was a HUMAN HAIR. *bleurgh* 2 others in the packet were the same – deliberate, surely?! Usually, I would’ve told the next person I saw how gross it was, then threw them away – but not anymore “These are too expensive, you must complain” I told myself, and so I was straight on the laptop with the code on the back (that’s right, I know what the numbers are for, Walkers) and now I’m getting sent replacements and a cheque.

The moral of the story – if you have no money, and when you do have a bit and spend it you get crap stuff – don’t let it go! especially if you bought it from Tesco’s, I’m hoping and praying they lose another few billion this year. One dairy farmer’s milk was cut 2p a litre by Tesco. Guess who footed the bill? That Dairy farmer’s income was slashed £14,000 for that year for a choice Tesco made FOR them. That’s why I don’t set foot in that scum hole.

Although, it’s harder to return onions to your local grocer than it is a supermarket. Just saying.

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Newspaper articles for the Brickwall Club

Just using my blog as a way to put up some pictures – but still – some interesting reading – probably more so than my usual waffle 🙂


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The Dreaded Commute

Recently, I have been commuting. (Urgh).

It’s for an internship, which I am very happy to be doing, as it’s a mix of two of my 3 favourite things – writing and Archaeology. (The third is, obviously, cake). Yet I actually only spend 1 more hour in the office than I do on the train, and that’s only if there’s no delays, or we don’t make one of those amazing stops in the middle of no where (If any of you lovely readers are fans of Bill Bailey you’ll remember ‘For the Coulis, is it?’ For those of you who aren’t.. why not?! ;p)  There was actually one of those this morning, the train ticket-conductor-man did the following, quite frankly brilliant, announcement; “I have no idea why we’ve stopped, and the train driver doesn’t want to speak to me, so we’ll just have to wait until we start moving again.”
I’ve gotten quite good at getting a seat, it involves knowing exactly where the doors will open on each platform, and standing there with elbows out, ready to duck and dive my way through the other, less aggressive, passengers. I would prefer it if it were all a lovely, polite experience where the elderly and pregnant ladies were allowed on first, and the rest of us followed in a very British ‘No no, after you’ ‘No please I insist’ sort of way. Unfortunately however, if ever there was proof needed that chivalry is dead, it can be found on trains. Men (normally in an expensive suit, often with an open can) will literally punch a woman in the face to get to a seat first. Ok, maybe not literally, but you can tell they want to as they do literally shove them out the way.  They then proceed to studiously stare down at their Blackberry/Iphone/Ipad/Kindle/Tiny netbook/newspaper until it’s their stop, making sure they don’t catch the eye of any tired old ladies or women with heavy bags. 
The other thing I love about sitting next to strangers on the train, is when you’ve already squashed yourself up against the window, and the person (again, usually an older man, sorry to generalise but it’s true) who sits next to you STILL feels the need to lean back on your arm, and breath his coffee breath very deeply into your personal space. When I take an isle seat, I lean out into the isle a bit, so I do not lean on the other person – why do these men not know about this rule? Surely it is a rule?
I’ve found the best way to stop these particular sorts of passengers sitting next to you is by reading slightly odd sounding books. So far the most effective has been this which I actually started reading just because it’s really interesting, I recommend it as a first foray into the History of Medicine, although I found I knew a lot of the content already due to doing a course in the subject! I’m thinking this may also work in scaring people away, it’s on my ‘to buy’ list.
I’m going to stop now before I start on people who seem to think it’s ok to fart and listen to music on their mobiles, and REALLY start ranting. 😀
On the upside, I get to see lots of wildlife out the window, and the other day I saw the sun rise behind Amberley Castle, all covered in snow with a beautiful deep purply red sky, filling the carriage with a red glow.
 The sad thing was, not one other person in the carriage even looked up from their phones.


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Why I love Shooting Stars, thought this may cheer some people up… the Douglet (Or doglet)

I was extremely excited about the new series of Shooting stars on telly. I know some people don’t appreciate it, but that level of randomness has to be very carefully scripted, and I love it!

The best bit about the Douglet/doglet, is that for ages, I didn’t realise it was a dog, I thought it was a puppet! So when the nose moved I was like “ARGH! How did he do that – oh wait – BWAH HA HAAA!” Silly me.
Anyways, – enjoy!

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