Monday, 29 August 2011

Go Ape!

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Today we did something awesome. We went ape. On Go Ape. Yes. Go Ape is, to quote the website, "a tree-top adventure". You climb along ropes and wires and go down zip wires and up ladders and it's just a great adventure in the great outdoors.

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It's something I've wanted to do for years, but I'd just never done it. When Dan, Kerys and I saw it at a country park the other day, we decided to go for it, so we went home and booked it! Dan's other sister Hannah decided to come too, and a good day was had by all.

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Well. It was a good day once I got over the scariness. On the very first course, we had to jump off a platform, swing down and hit a rope wall thing. And I couldn't jump. I just froze up. Eek!
Obviously I had to do it (once you were up there, the only way down was to finish the course!), so I sucked it up and went for it. And, despite trembling hands, I made it to the next platform with all limbs intact.

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Once I got more into it, it became a lot more fun. There were 5 courses in total, and by the third or fourth, I was really enjoying myself, and clipping and unclipping myself became almost second nature.

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Go Ape 4

The zip wires were probably the most fun part - at the end of every course, your reward for getting to the end was to go flying through the trees and feel the wind in your face. Lovely.
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All 4 of us completed all 5 courses with all of our limbs intact, so we got a certificate each. Hell yeah.

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Sunday, 28 August 2011

Where's my BFF? (a thought process in photos)

Following on from yesterday's post (in the most vague way possible), I was thinking and I realised that, should I get married sometime in the future, I have no idea who I would choose for my Maid of Honour. Or my bridesmaids, for that matter.

That makes me sound like a bit of a billy-no-mates. Not true. I have plenty of girl friends. But half of them are in or around London, and the other half are alllll the way on the other side of the Atlantic in the US. So I don't see any of them nearly as much as I'd like.

I would consider these two to be my best friends:
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But they live in Colorado, and have other friends that they're closer to than me. I have no doubt that, to both of them, I'm amongst their best friends, but like I said, other friends closer (both in distance and emotion) to them. We've got the kind of friendship where we can not talk for months, but when we talk, it's as if no time at all has passed. Which I love. It's just hard when I can't casually text them or call them, or, you know, see them.
I'd LOVE to have these two as my bridesmaids. But having them so far away makes that pretty tricky.

Also in the US is Sarah:
Collage - Sarah and me
(sorry about the collage - there were too many great pictures to choose from!) (and yes, she is proposing to me in the last image) (in a Las Vegas wedding chapel, no less) (we were drunk, what do you want from us?) (sorry, I'll stop with the parenthesis)

Without Sarah, I probably wouldn't have had the amazing time in Colorado that I did. She was the first friend I met out there, the first one to say "Hey, come hang out with me", and who introduced me to some amazing people. We've had a lot of fun adventures together (including three times in Las Vegas - she lives there, y'see). She talks a LOT, but she has the most amazing heart, and I miss her.
Again, though, different country. Not too helpful.

Moving onto this country ...

My friend Emmy-Lou (well, her name is Emma, but I call her Emmy-Lou and she calls me Emmy-Liz. We're too cool) is getting married next April, and I'm going to be a bridesmaid for her. It's the first time I'm going be a bridesmaid (or go to a wedding, for that matter!) and I'm super excited to share her day with her.
(yes, we are massive dorks. We met on the internet, so ... yeah)

This is another case of a close friend of mine having a BFF4LYFE already. Which is fine, but it means, I don't know, I feel like I want my own BFF as my Maid of Honour. As in, that person who I am the No. 1 friend for. Is that selfish of me? Perhaps. But I don't think it's out of the realms of expectation, is it?

Now we're going down nostalgia lane ...
When I was 14/15 I had a best friend who was the stereotypical definition of a BFF.

(please excuse the hole in my mouth where teeth should be. One day I might get around to writing about the 6856378144 years of torment - I only exaggerate slightly - I went through with my teeth)

We did EVERYTHING together. When she was at her father's house, we lived a 5 minute walk away from each other, so I basically lived at her house. Both her mother and her father referred to me on more than one occasion as their extra daughter. I slept over her house almost every weekend. We told each other everything. It was the kind of best friendship that teenage books are made of.
But, as is often the way with teenage friendships, we fell out, and the rest of our friends all sided with her. It was a massive falling out that left me on the verge of depression for the two years of Sixth Form. I wish things hadn't happened that way. We were such prolific writers, both of us, that I believe our friendship could easily have lasted through university if The Argument hadn't made us fall apart. I still dream about her sometimes, and I wake up missing her every time.

And finally, there's these wonderful ladies:
It took a long time for me to be able to trust a group of girls again (see above), but this lot made it happen. I still see these girls as often as I can (I'll hopefully be seeing them next weekend!), but it isn't the same as it was when we were in university and we could see each other every day. And, once again, most (if not all) of them are closer to other girls than to me (both within that group and outside of it). Again, that probably has more to do with distance than anything else. I'm just too far away to casually go and spend an evening with them.

At the ripe old age of 22, I am BFF-less. And without school or university as a catalyst, I have no idea how to go about making friends, let alone finding me a best friend. Le sigh. I guess if it's meant to happen, it will.

(this overly long post is brought to you by loneliness as a result of Dan being away on a teaching training course, and me having NOTHING to do)


Saturday, 27 August 2011

No proposals, please.

Last night, after the double bill of Bridezillas had finished on Really (yes, I was home on a Friday night watching trashy reality TV. I don't mind admitting it), I left the TV on and went back to internetting. A program called Dawn Porter: Extreme Wife came on and it was actually pretty interesting. She went into a Mormon town, and stayed in two polygamist households. Anyway, I digress.

I liked Dawn Porter's style - she seemed quite 'normal' for an investigative reporter, so I looked her up online, and came across her personal website. There were links to some of articles she's written so I read a couple. And found this one:
Guys, think twice before you pop the question.
As I read it I realised THIS IS ME. This is exactly how I feel.

Now, don't get me wrong, Dan and I are nowhere near getting married and he knows that. But I watch quite a lot of reality TV shows involving weddings (the aforementioned Bridezillas, as well as Don't Tell the Bride, and I used to watch Four Weddings back when we had Sky Living), and I'm worried that he'll take that to mean I'm hinting at wanting a proposal. I'm not. I just really enjoy laughing at other people mess up (or not, you know, that sometimes works I suppose) their own weddings.

And yet, I know that if he did propose, I would feel obligated to say yes, for the reasons that Dawn outlines in her article:
"... there wouldn't be enough reason to hurt him by saying no".

"Trying to explain to a guy who's just proposed to you that you're not ready to marry him could cause him to feel so insecure that the relationship doesn't stand a chance after that."
Whereas some couples seem to see engagement as the next stage in a relationship, a symbol that they will get around to getting married one day, I don't see engagement that way. I see it to mean that wedding planning must commence almost straight away, and that the wedding will take place in not much more than a year from the proposal. The only way I could justify waiting for more than, say, 14 months would be if I found the perfect location and it was fully booked until x amount of time away. So if I'm not mentally prepared for getting married when I was proposed to, my 'yes' would be a way of not ending the relationship, not a 'yes' because OMGILOVEYOULETSGETMARRIED (to put it eloquently).

Not to say that I don't love Dan, and that I don't see myself with him for the rest of our lives. But with so many people I know - both off and online - getting engaged recently, it's made me realise that I'm definitely NOT ready to get married, or even engaged. I love living with Dan, and I think we should be content as we are for a while longer.


Thursday, 25 August 2011

Royal Victoria Country Park.

You'll all be glad to know that I have the job at the Holiday Inn! I rang on Tuesday, and managed to speak to the man who'd interviewed me. He'd been off for a couple of days (and to be fair to him, he didn't sound great on the phone!), but he'd got my email and has contacted my references, so hopefully I'll get my start date soon and can start making me some MONEYS. Seriously, I'm having serious eBay spending withdrawals. It's an issue. I want to buy pretty dresses for 99p!

As we're getting towards the end of our Summer of Joblessness© together, Dan and I have been making the most of our days by getting out and doing fun things. Since we enjoyed our walk around Manor Farm country park the other day, we decided to continue the trend and went to Royal Victoria country park.

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It was really nice because there were three areas to it - a beach, a field and a forest.

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We went for a walk in the forest that led us to a war cemetery. Dan had been to the country park quite a few times before and never knew that the place existed - because he'd never been into the visitor's centre and picked up a map! What? Crazy stuff! I ALWAYS go into visitor centres as one of the first things I do when I get somewhere! If you don't know what's there, how can you be sure that you won't miss something super fun/inspirational/silly/beautiful/[insert other appropriate adjective]?

Collage - cemetary

Since the Royal Victoria was a hospital during the World Wars (the building above is part of what was the hospital - the rest of it was knocked down during the 1960s), most of the graves were of soldiers or prisoners of war, so it was really interesting to walk around.

I love that there's so many country parks around here! They're such a cheap (they'd be free if it weren't for those pay + display machines in the car parks, damnit!) yet fun day out in the fresh air.


Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Jobs. Part 4.

So, after my last jobs post, I emailed the guy who interviewed me at the Holiday Inn, explaining that I'd had a couple of other interviews and when was the latest I could give him an answer about the job (this was on Wednesday)? He replied saying Monday 22nd (yesterday). Okay, cool, quite close, but a fair amount of time.

So I rang the hotel where I'd had the receptionist trial shift. The woman who interviewed me wasn't there, but the receptionist told me she'd give her the message and ask her to contact me. She didn't. On Sunday, I rang again, and luckily the phone was answered by the woman who interviewed me. I explained my situation, and her response was to tell me, basically, to take the other job. Right, okay, thanks for getting back to me. Ugh. I understand that they needed to interview other people, but it had been FOUR WEEKS since my initial interview. I don't think I was asking much to be given an answer one way or the other. Did they really think I'd only applied for that one job? That's ridiculous.

Anyway, straight afterwards I emailed the Holiday Inn accepting the job. I emailed on Sunday, feeling all good because I was emailing the day before my 'deadline'. But it's Tuesday and, at this point, I haven't received a reply. The guy who interviewed me has, previously, been super good about emailing back promptly and it's making me a little nervous, I'll be honest. What if he thought I wasn't going to accept the job, so he gave it to someone else? And yes, he could just not have been in work, but if that's the case, why didn't he give me the deadline as a day when he'd be in the office?

I'm probably just being silly, but I REALLY NEED A JOB. I have > £50 in my bank account, which is not a good position to be in. If he hasn't emailed back by this time tomorrow, I'll give the hotel a call. In the meantime, I'm going for a walk in the rain (oh British summer, you've really been a let down this year).


Sunday, 21 August 2011

Adventures with the Aged Parents. Part 2.

Continuing from Part 1, in which we went to Mudeford Quay, my mother, grandparents, great aunt and I made our way to Christchurch.
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My mother and grandparents had been on holiday to Pontins there when my mother was little, so some reminiscing was going on here, of course. Apparently it was the first place my mother rode a pony (though she seemed unconvinced of this!).
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There's also a priory there. I'll be honest, I'm not entirely sure what a priory is in comparison to a church or, you know, another religious building (can you tell I'm not religious?!), but it was a beautiful structure.
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My grandparents and aunt went in, but my mother and I ran off to look in a couple of charity shops instead - things tend to get a bit embarrassing when my grandparents look around places like that so we thought it was safer to escape!

Afterwards we headed to Bournemouth. Unfortunately the Bournemouth Air Show was on (you may have read about the Red Arrows pilot who was killed today, which is so sad), which meant that we couldn't drive along the front as we had planned, and it was reeeeally crowded everywhere. We did eventually manage to find a place to park (albeit on double yellow lines, but everyone was doing it!) up on a cliff.

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As you can see, it was very popular!
We didn't manage to get any (good) photos of the planes in flight, but the second one we saw was pretty impressive with its roaring jets and plummeting acrobatics.

After that we made our way back to my flat, and my family headed back to Cardiff.
It was lovely seeing my great aunt, since we only see her every couple of years. And my grandparents, of course, but especially my mother. I miss my mother a lot. I wish I could see her more often. Talking on the phone just isn't quite the same, you know?
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Saturday, 20 August 2011

Adventures with the Aged Parents. Part 1.

My great aunt (my grandma's sister) lives in Canada, and she's come over for a 2 week visit. So my mother drove her and my grandparents (the Aged Parents of the title's post - my mother's name for them, not mine!) down to visit me, and to visit a couple of lovely places along the south coast.

The weather on Thursday was AWFUL (it rained almost the whole day), so we only ended up going to Portsmouth and for a meal in Harvester.

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My grandfather and I totally pimping out the Harvester.

The B+B we stayed in was surprisingly lovely. Usually my mother and I are a little wary of B+Bs because they can be a bit too 'intimate' for our liking, and we find it a bit awkward being in, basically, someone's house! But this one appealed to me straight away, because it was called The White House and all of the rooms were named after American presidents. Which, for an American history junkie like yours truly, was pretty much made of win. Except that my mother and I were in Carter (there was even a photo of him on the wall!), because, really, Carter's up there on the Not That Interesting Presidents list.

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The English breakfast the next morning was delicious. There's nothing quite like a full English breakfast (and juice and cereal and toast and fruit!) to set you up for the day.
If you ever happen to be in the Christchurch/Bournemouth area for a couple of nights, I'd thoroughly recommend The White House.


As you can see, the weather the next day was a LOT better! There was no rain in sight, and it was almost warm!
So, off to Mudeford Quay we went!

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I'll post the rest of the day's adventures, in Christchurch and Bournemouth, in Part 2. Bet you're excited already!


P.S. Thanks for all your helpful comments on my jobs post. I'll have an update on that in a few days, hopefully!

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Jobs. Part 3.

Yesterday I had an interview for the position of Food and Beverage Assistant at a Holiday Inn. The position is contractually only 12 hours a week, but the guy who interviewed me assured me that if I wanted to work extra hours, all the way up to full time hours, there's almost always hours available to do.

Today I got an email informing me that I've got the job - hooray!

But ... today I went to a trial shift for the role of receptionist at a hotel in Winchester. It's hard to tell how it went, since I didn't get a chance to do anything that 'proved' myself, but the people I spoke to seemed to like me, which I'm taking as a good sign.

So now I'm not really sure what to do.
I was told I'd hear about the receptionist job in the next couple of days, and that's the job I'd definitely prefer ... but how long can I hold off on giving an answer to the Holiday Inn job offer? It's a good job, and if I don't end up getting the receptionist job, I'd definitely be happy with that job (although let's be honest, right now I'd be happy with almost any job!). I just think the receptionist job is more 'me', and fits in with what I can see myself doing in the future (when I eventually figure it out ...).

I'm going away for 2 days from tomorrow, and I don't want to leave the email unanswered until Friday evening, but I'm not sure how to reply to it at the moment. I don't want to say something that implies that the job is a back up ... but it is.

TL;DR? I've been offered a job. There's a chance I'll be offered a job I want more (but also a chance I won't be). How do I reply to the job offer without taking that option off the table, but without formally accepting it for the moment?


Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Manor Farm Country Park.

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Yesterday Dan and I went for a walk in a nearby country park. With neither of us working at the moment (I'm still horribly unemployed, and Dan's a teacher so it's the summer holidays for him), we often don't have anything specific to get up for, and I feel as if we've wasted some of our days just sitting around the flat, so I made the executive decision that we were going to get out and make the most of our free time together.

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It started off a cool day, but by the time we were trekking down a long path in the open, it was quite warm and we were both regretting wearing jeans! Luckily we had ice lollies to cool us down, happy days.

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I had a job interview for the role of a Food and Beverage Assistant at a Holiday Inn today, and I've got a 'trial day' for a receptionist job tomorrow, so keep your fingers crossed for me!


Sunday, 14 August 2011

A Day Out in the New Forest

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Yesterday Dan and I went on a day trip to the New Forest with Dan's friend Simon (well, I suppose he's sort of my friend too, but I can't imagine hanging out with him without Dan there, you know?) and his girlfriend Lizi.

We all piled into Lizi's car and drove to Lyndhurst, which is the village at the centre of the New Forest. It's also where the only two main routes through the forest meet, which means it's quite chaotic around there. After about 45 minutes in traffic, we just pulled into a gravelled pull-in on the side of the road and walked into Lyndhurst instead.

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We grabbed ourselves some snacks, then went for a walk up a hilly field.
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(you can't really tell from this picture, but Lizi was wearing a short skirt with black boots. She has this way of wearing things that always make me feel a little bit underdressed for an occasion!)

On the other side of the hill, we saw some horses ponies, so I decided to try and get closer. They kept moving away from us, the cheeky things! Eventually they stopped at some water and I was able to get a couple of photos.

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There's loads of ponies in the New Forest. I thought they were wild, but I just looked it up and apparently they're all privately owned (which explains the markings on the ones we saw. I just assumed they'd been marked by rangers to make sure no one stole them), and they're allowed to graze anywhere in the Forest. Interesting stuff.

After our mini adventure with the ponies, we walked back into Lyndhurst and went into a small - and very busy! - sweet shop.

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Obviously we had to get a couple of things - there was so much selection!

Then we made our way to the New Forest Reptile Centre. We got there at 4.10 and it was due to close at 4.30, but since it was free and really small (there was also a nature walk, but we obviously didn't have time for that!), we were still able to have a quick look around.

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We drove on a bit further and had dinner in a Harvester (the amount that Dan and I eat in Harvester, we probably keep them in business. Seriously. Harvester and Wetherspoons are our go-to cheap-but-tasty food places) before driving back home.

I got to Skype with Mariah in the evening (for three and a half hours! This is what happens when almost 2 months go by without us speaking), so all in all a rather lovely day!


P.S. I've now got over 30 followers! Thank you so much to everyone who follows and comments, it makes me happy :)