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Graduate trying out life on the other side of the world.. stay tuned.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Christmas time.. again- how did that happen?

Oops.. it has been exactly a year since I last posted on this blog- I have truly and utterly neglected this.

Truth is, I think it's been a bit too much of an eventful year for me to have truly committed to writing this on a regular basis. I probably won't bore you with the details right here, right now, but rather give a brief overview. If you can't do it at Christmas, then when can you do it?

I'm now back in the UK- after almost 2 years away from home, I decided it was probably about time I came back. I think if I had missed one more Birthday, Christmas, Wedding or indeed Christening- my friends and family would have had me hung, strung and quartered- at least then I would have had a valid excuse for not being in the country!

There were several factors in this- friends and family being the most important of these. So I totally blame you guys for how much I am shivering right now despite wearing several layers of thermals, scarves and gloves whilst rocking back and forth cradling a cup of hot (Yorkshire [-obviously]) Tea.

My job was pretty fantastic, and also a massive personal achievement. I never dreamed of being offered such an opportunity. However it also proved to be a massive challenge. The decision to leave the role and head back to the UK was one of the most difficult decisions I have ever had to make, however one I know was the best thing for me and my health. (Turns out stress can actually affect your health.. massive lesson learnt when I was diagnosed with Shingles in August this year. Oops.)

I've become a bit of a coffee snob in the past two years.. Costa and Starbucks seem to resemble more pond water than anything that is supposed to be ground from coffee beans. Also, the fact that Flat Whites aren't universal over here in the UK is as shocking as the America's Cup result earlier this year between the US and NZ. In fact the state of the coffee over here could be enough to send me back to Welly. (Don't panic, Laura, I am kidding!)

So here I am, back in the UK and ready to start the next new exciting chapter. As ever I'm not sure how it will go, but I figure if I can go to the other side of the world and make it work, I should theoretically be okay back on home ground, right?




Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Christmas time, Mistletoe and wine.. [Christmas Vodka]

Christmas seems a good a time as any to write a post- that and I was dutifully reminded it had been far too long without updating it. Apologies- you know who you are!

So, here it's Boxing Day, and I think I've had the best two months this year just gone by. Summer has finally arrived- or as Summer-like as it gets in New Zealand.(Turns out you can still have a British type summer on the other side of the world. It still rains.) I'm supping on an ice cold gin, elderflower creation and I'm ready to go.

I've been lucky enough to have a very special visitor in December- my mum came to visit! It was a rollercoaster of a fortnight, full of emotions and cocktails. Tour of the north of South Island in nothing other than a bright pink car- was absolutely wonderful. I think I may have given her a taste of the Kiwi lifestyle.. It was an incredibly special time and I'm lucky enough to have shared it all with her.

Work has been amazing-the new role is providing the challenge I was yearning for, and I love it. The puppies, and kitten season is certainly helping things along a little.

So- Christmas. Most surreal Christmas I've ever had. Swimming in the sea on Christmas Day has to be a highlight. Yes, you could swim in the sea in the Northern Hemisphere or the UK on Christmas Day, but you'd be liable to losing a few toes due to frostbite and turning into an ice sculpture.. not so much fun.Christmas Vodka was also a key highlight. Along with the superbly cooked full on Christmas dinner (without the sprouts- not in season apparently. Pretty good though, as it meant I didn't have to begrudgingly eat a token sprout this year).

It's just been so bloody HOT.

It has been hard being away from home and all the little traditions you have with family that you never think about until occasions such as Christmas- but change can only be good on occasions such as these and making new traditions is pretty exciting.


Bring on the New Year, kicking off with a party to remember, and hopefully one which will be the start of an even better year- which will be hard, but I'm confident, if 2012 is anything to go by, 2013 will surpass even my expectations.

Just a few snaps..








Bring on the New Year, kicking off with a party to remember, and hopefully one which will be the start of an even better year- which will be hard, but I'm confident, if 2012 is anything to go by, 2013 will surpass even my expectations.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

It's been a wee while, ey

How many of you have a bucket list?

I definitely have one, but it's not necessarily one that's written down in one place. It's more of a virtual list in my mind, sort of whizzing around my personal stratosphere.

Maybe I should make an effort to write some of the things I wanna do before I pop my clogs down in a list-I always seem to accomplish more when things have been popped down in a list! I think it's the satisfaction of ticking something off- I don't know about you but I definitely shout in my head "TICK!" and have an inane smile on my face for a wee while just because I've ticked something off said list. Even if it's something as simple as printing off a few letters or inputting some data. Simple minded, what can I say!

Anyway, the point of this is I went to see the All Blacks last night, and I placed a massive tick in my imaginary box in my virtual bucket list. Ever since the Rugby World Cup last year I decided that one day I would see the Haka live in action by the All Blacks. Of course, I never thought it would happen, but then again I never thought a lot of things in my life would happen. It was pretty awesome. Not one of those life defining moments that do feature pretty heavily in bucket lists, but still pretty cool!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uFsbeyA5Sms

The match was quite slow to begin with but by the end it was brilliant. Even better as there was a total black out in the stadium- someone obviously pulled the plug in error and I would not want to be that person on Monday! But I have to say it was cool, how many times will that happen- An All Blacks black out.. excuse the (really bad) pun (if I can even call it that).

I think that the main thing on this list is to make the most of every opportunity, and never look back. I know many people will think I'm mad for taking on another job that is more demanding than the previous, but as my housemate pointed out to me, that would never have been enough for me. In short- I'm a glutton for punishment. I really do feel that she's right. I have taken on a new role which I am loving every minute of. It is still the honeymoon period and only time shall tell. But it was an opportunity I simply could not refuse and if I had, I would have looked back and thought what if and as I have mentioned MANY times before there's no point in that.

I think the point is this:
(taken from http://notsalmon.com/2012/06/02/your-mission/#.UEvbC7JlSAo thank you kindly)




I think that sums it up pretty nicely.

Bit of a pensive and philosophical post from me, but it was bound to happen sometime wasn't it..

Monday, 11 June 2012

you're only ever a hop, skip and a jump away..

Recently, I have been thinking of this theory that exists, and that I'm sure you're aware of- that being the 6 degrees of separation.

Everyone will have contemplated this theory at some point in their lives.Think back to the last time you said Gosh, what a small world we live in- and BOOM! There you have it, albeit on a rather basic level, but you have indeed considered the fact that the world we live in,despite having billions of people in it is actually rather small. Or that you are an incredibly well connected person.

This is almost definitely emphasised by the social media revolution. What with mediums such as Facebook and LinkedIn,we are all much exposed to the "connected-ness" that the theory sets out.How many times have you clicked on the "people you may know" link to the right of your Facebook home page and found someone through one of your friends that you both know without realising it? That you were both mutually unaware of your mutual friend?  Granted, a lot of the time, you will have complete randoms on there that, are, (in my case anyway), random South Americans.

The thing that has really got my goat about this is someone that I met in Wellington 6 months ago. In considering this 6 degrees of separation lark, it has got me thinking (dangerous, I know, and yes, it did hurt) that the world is becoming a smaller place. Or at least developed countries are more so. Take this case in point-  my leaving 'do, my friend turns to me and asks where exactly I'm going, what my housemates does over here and when I'm leaving and exclaims (or,I should correct myself here and say mumbled as we were feeling a little worse for wear the morning after the night before. Standard Davies party.) that a mutual friend of hers is going to Wellington in a few weeks to study something rock related at the same uni as my friend who is also studying something rock related!! (I hasten to add these people are a Geophysicist and a Geochemist- both VERY different things and will be scorned at for branding them with the same brush..  but what can I say, I did Philosophy and Politics, it should almost be expected.) Now, if that isn't a prime example of the six degrees of separation theory in action, I will (actually, might,) eat my Louboutin.

It really does make the world, or rather, my world, seem a little smaller, and that 11,000 miles away it is nothing but a hop, skip, a jump and six degrees away. It helps a little at times of homesick-ness and topsy-turvy times whilst being upside down in New Zealand.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

the best things in life are for (almost) free.

This weekend, I felt the need to escape the city and get some fresh air, see a bit more of New Zealand and,most importantly, try out my new [pink] walking boots.
As pink as walking boots get..

I found myself and a few friends heading to Kaitoke National Park,about an hour away from Wellington (admittedly, we didn't venture far. Probably wise as I was driving), where they have filmed scenes from the Lord of the Rings.

As you might expect, it was green. And pretty rainy. All the same I thought the  place was beautiful in the only way that I'm learning New Zealand can be, much in a way that many parts of the UK are.They don't try to too hard to be stunning, they just are magnificent in their settings. Understated WOW factor, I find to always be much satisfying than the obtrusive and obvious WOW factor.
Like I said, it was very green.

At one point along this Ridge Walk (which we definitely came nowhere near to completing) we came to a break in all the greenery and had a view of the valley. In that moment, I was taken straight back 5 years when in the Amazon. (one day you'll forgive me for my place-name dropping..) It was something to do with all the trees and rain I think. But the view was not dissimilar to a mental photograph I had taken of one of my favouritie views whilst travelling,(the mental photograph,in case you're wondering, was in the Amazon over looking the Cloud Forests. (yes, I am name dropping again, please forgive me.) But this got me thinking, did I actually appreciate the stuff I was seeing and taking in? I don't think I ever did until I came back. It was like a major time delay on the intake of such beautiful things and things that really made me think, my god- when will I ever see anything like that again? In fact it's probably only now that I realise that I will probably never see anything like that ever again. Especially because my mental photography skills are particularly lacking.

Like, right now, I am so much more in awe of the stuff that I'm seeing, or I'm that much more proud of myself for taking the leap to the other side of the world than I think I was 5 years ago. Admittedly, it's more of a hop, skip, jump and a 30 hour plane ride away than a leap but you get the gist of what I mean..

I think that maybe I'm just that little more mature and therefore more aware of the things that I'm seeing. And when I say mature, I definitely just mean older.

Just a pink-ish sunset.. sensing a theme yet?
The thing is, the best things in life are often the things that cost next to nothing. Okay so this argument is a little flawed because I did have to fork out a pretty hefty amount to get here in the first place- but I was really very happy at taking a walk just outside of Wellington last weekend, or just having dinner with some friends- or going to some crazy hut restaurant with some belly dancer dancing in between the tables crowded full of half drunk twenty-thirty somethings wishing each other happy birthday and demanding speeches from strangers to celebrate these non existent birthdays.(you really cannot make this stuff up). It's the simple things in life that often are the most satisfying, or the most memorable simply because they were so surreal.

I feel like I'm getting much more out of this big "trip", this time round, and I still haven't worked out why, but in the meantime, here's another picture that I took with an actual camera as it's much more reliable than my memory..




Tuesday, 24 April 2012

missing me yet?

So guys, I have indeed been out of the country for 3 months now.. and I have to say missing you all a *teeny* bit.

Granted- it's probably not enough to make me want to jump on a plane home immediately- as I know most of you would push me back onto the plane as soon as it landed in Heathrow anyway, so it would be an incredibly expensive wasted journey (at least if I was just in Manchester, as wasted trip would never cost you more than a quid.. God Bless the Magic Bus and it's interesting take on health and safety regulations..) so I won't be taking that risk in the next few months anyhow. But it looks like I defnitely won't be coming back for at least 6 months now- as against all the odds I have just secured myself a contract for that amount of time.

Now this does indeed warrant a blog post. I was looking back through some of my posts pre- NZ and I realise how terribly pessimistic I was about making this whole thing work. Turns out I really am a sad realist. I honestly thought I would be back home in Wales by now. 3 months was my target- I set it for myself and thought that if I managed to last for THAT long without Yorkshire Tea (more on that later) or everything yummy in the UK (yes, I AM going to mention Bacon again here- IT'S JUST NOT THE SAME HERE) or my close network of friends and family a few hours away, I had achieved something big, something to really be proud of.

And here it is- I've done it! And what's more, It looks as though I will have beaten my own target (blimey- you can tell I'm a salesperson at heart with all this target chat).

For many of you, this is your opportunity to roll your eyes at the computer screen (or ipad, or iphone, or crapberry, or whatever other fancy thing you're using) and say I told you so.

I won't be giving you another opportunity again- make the most of it.

It seems that the Davies' habit of landing on your feet is hereditary. When I was having a meltdown about failing at being on the other side of the world, my parent's sat me down and looked at me straight in the eyes and simply said "Hey! You're a Davies. No matter what- we deal with it, build a bridge- get over it and get on with it." (definitely just used a bit of bloggers artistic license there, but what the hell, when in Rome..)

Turns out, they were right. (that is SO hard for me to admit)

It also turns out that I needn't be in New Zealand without Yorkshire Tea. Yes- this is sad that I'm saying how happy this makes me in a public sphere but I don't actually care. Thanks to one of my lovliest and rather superb best friends- I recieved TWO, yes TWO packs of Yorkshire Tea- along with some of our favourite biccies in the post last week (Customs must have understood my sheer need for proper tea in my life and let it into the country). This is absolutely fantastic, and I have declared my undying love for her ten times over as a result. But - I have to admit made me miss home a little more, realise that I'm not going to be home for a little while yet.

But remember to pop the kettle on for when I come home.. Make mine a Yorkshire Tea.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Windy Welly vs Wet Wales

Since arriving here on the other side of the world, I have felt totally refreshed and excited to go and do new things, or actively go and seek out different things that will make the weekend a real weekend.

Now I don't know why this is. I certainly did not do this in the UK. I, in fact would have been quite happy to chill at home weekend after weekend after crazy times at work during the week. More often than not, watching those really bad movies on Sky- the ones that you pay a fortune for, yet never really have the urge to watch Christmas movies in the middle of summer, or watching Harry Potter for the billionth time. Even I, with my incredible thirst for all things Potter related. (I am secretly saving to go to that Potter-land in Florida. for the WIN.)

It wasn't until I saw a Lonely Planet book yesterday in a book shop (right next to a book on how to grow KIWI's-oh yes!) on the UK, and the fact that someone I know here has recently left to do a year in the UK did I fully realise (yes-sloooowww on the uptake I know- but hey-what's new there ey?!) that the UK is full of amazing things to do and see. 

Don't worry- I'm in New Zealand and absolutely loving it- I'm not coming back anytime soon.

One of my friends recently went to Liverpool and loved it. I found it refreshing to hear of someone taking a mini break in the UK and loving every minute of it..(says the girl who recently traveled over 11,000 miles to get away from the country. Hypocrite much? I think so).

Despite this factor, I feel that my quality of life here is so much better than it was about 4 months ago. I think it's in part to do with the fact that I shelled out a lot of money on a one way ticket to Kiwi-land and wanting to make the most of every opportunity,or as a friend put it, becoming a "YES" girl. I think that back in the UK I was lazy- and had a very different view on things-more of a stagnant approach to the country I live in. At the risk of sounding like somebody who rarely saw sunlight, with a vitamin D deficiency and no friends- I really wasn't. I visited friends and went to different parts of the country- but I guess I took it for granted- a bit like how I totally took bacon for granted back in the UK. Let's just say- the Kiwi's do not understand a girls need for a proper smoked BLT sandwich to cure a tequila-induced hangover.

                                  Kevin the Kiwi enjoys his favourite tipple..

There's a view that the work-life balance is better over here than in the UK. In reality- I don't think it is. 40 hour weeks are much more common here, nurses (such as one of my housemates) don't get as much holiday as they do in the UK to counter the stirling job they do day in, day out working horrific hours.Yet somehow, I find that, in my -admittedly- blinkered tunnel vision "OMG THIS PLACE IS SUPER-AMAZING, I NEVER WANT TO LEAVE" view of this country- people seem happier to be here. I think there is a serious element of pride in New Zealander's of their own country, that I haven't seen in the UK for a while. I'm not talking here of crazy BNP-ers or serious insular Euro-sceptics, but people who just love their country. It's pretty infectious. I think that's why I feel my quality of life is better here. It's because I'm a Kiwi-Keeno (check out my alliteration there!) 

I could be totally wrong here and I could get a barrage of people (or rather a slow trickle depending on who can be bothered reading this wonderfully confused insight to my mind) claiming that they feel exactly the way I feel about New Zealand right now. You could all be serious UK enthusiasts- and if you're not then maybe you should be. It is a pretty cool place. Right now I'm sampling some other pretty cool places and [still] loving it. 

Apologies for all the future sappy "I <3 NZ" posts.. but there's no place I'd rather be.

                              View from the deck on an increasingly rare sunny day..

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Bustin' that stereotype

So since the last post, I have started to explore a *little* more of this country I find myself in and it has done nothing but make me fall a little more in love with it.

It has been a real mix of extremes, from wine tasting in Martinborough, to a slightly more crazier night out in Wellington (naming no names) to the ballet, to working.

Let me go back to the wine tasting, if anything to make you all a little jealous. We (a friend and I) took a roadtrip, with, you'll be pleased to hear, my friend doing the driving, after I told her of all my driving escapades with less than a year's experience. Took a little detour stopping off at Lake Wairarapa (still can't spell it and I spent half an hour looking at the place on a map trying to navigate towards it..) here it is:


It was a beautifully sunny day and there could not have been a better time to hire a bike - yep- I rode a bike, for the first time in years. Yes,literally years. I have to admit it was a pretty (actually,I lie- a REALLY) wobbly start, but as the day went on, and the consumption of alcohol went up, I was a pro by the end of it. I'll be taking on the Tour de France in next to no time at all. Bring it! The wine was fabulous, and had a different take on the wine vocabulary used by typical wine-o's, and found that saying "the bouquet of this pinot noir is particularly YUMMY" had the same impact. I'd even argue that it is better than saying the "bouquet is particularly floral, with a hint of bergamot" because I find the word YUM conveys exactly what it is with none of the smarmy stereotype.

The next day, with a rather fuzzy head, the weather was absolutely foul. In the typical New Zealand way that we all love to hate it could just be described as "grey".

In a continuation of the incredibly civilised-ness of my past few weeks, we headed to the ballet on Friday. I haven't been to the ballet for years, and I had forgotten how great it is. You can totally lose yourself in the world of pirouettes and tutu's for a few hours and come out of it feeling rather refreshed. In our case, the men in tights were also a bonus..

In short I am feeling terribly cultured at the moment and felt the need to share this once in a blue-moon occurance with you. Make the most of it. Then again I might surprise myself.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Windy Wellington lives up to it's name..

Apparently there was an earthquake last night. I say apparently because I, for the second time in my life have slept right through an earthquake. I am well known in my circle of friends for my ability to fall asleep mid conversation, and it seems I am increasingly competent at doing just that.

Okay so the earthquake was nearby and not exactly on my doorstep (or under my doorstep as the case may be..) but this combined with a conversation I had at work (yes, I have started to work, I am incapable of being a lazy travelling bum it seems) with some colleagues have truly made me realise that I am living in New Zealand, where experiencing an earthquake seems to be as normal as your cup of tea in the morning.

Yes, I know I travelled for 30 hours to get here, I know that New Zealand is an awfully long way away on a globe, and I know that the 13 hour time difference, and the fact Kiwi's are the first to see the sunrise in the morning, and to see the new year in would inevitably mean that I am a long, long way from home- but it was the realisation that earthquakes, and crazy-ass storms happen rather frequently here made it really hit home with me.

I'm in mother-chuffin' New Zealand. Oh my.

On the weekend, we had made some wonderful plans to go to the zoo and explore a bit more of the area- including a place called Zealandia, which makes me think of Jurassic Park for some reason. Actually, thinking about it- I would not be surprised to see a dinosaur going about his daily business here. However when we heard the storm warnings (and experienced a pretty hefty downpour outside Peter Jackson's cinema [and- yes I did just massively name drop- how could I not?! Best.cinema.ever.] on Friday night) that going to the zoo might not be such a good idea that weekend. We might have actually seen a flying pig.

Good job we didn't. Our house physically shook from all the wind- and we stayed resolutely inside except to venture out to buy emergency cider and ingredients for cake. It was this that made me realise that New Zealand is really quite a small island (or two islands for those know-it-alls out there) in the middle of nowhere. And it is this fact that makes me love it a little more. I find it amazing that a place like this, is literally (cue the "jah, I'M LITERALLY IN BURM-AH, ON MY GAP YAH  jokes.. ) in the middle of nowhere. I quite easily forget that on my day to day doings of working, drinking great cider and improving my baking skills. (Turns out I need to work on my decorating of carrot cakes. My iced carrots on the cake looked more like [delicious] genetically modified wonders).

I don't think I will ever get used to the fact that I'm in New Zealand. The novelty is yet to wear off and I doubt it ever will. Just like my icing skills will never improve..

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

So laid back, they're practically horizontal..loving life the Kiwi way.

So, 4 weeks ago today, I jumped on a plane to come to New Zealand. I realised this today and I am still in shock at how fast time has flown by. I will add a hideous cliche here, that time has flown by, and I have indeed been having so much fun. What shocks me is that 4 weeks = 1 month gone already of a mere12 month visa.

I have been incredibly lucky in that I have walked into a life that has, in effect, already been set up for me.Other people have had to do most the hard work. That's the beauty of it I guess, and it is only now that i realise that I would have been stupid to not even give this whole Kiwi thing a go. Anyway, I am here, having a go at it and thoroughly enjoying it. Already there have been some ups and downs, but I am fortunate enough that the ups have far outweighed the downs already, which takes a lot for a pessimist (yes, like me) to admit to.

The one thing I am quite enjoying but also admittedly struggling with a little is the attitude to life here. I find it so alien to the UK way that I know it'll take another month to adapt. Everything is *so* laid back here. Now, I am the first to admit this is definitely a good thing for me and my dubious blood pressure, but we all know I can be  a little incredibly highly strung at times and this will definitely be doing the world of good. Even things like setting up Bank Accounts is just so straight forward, and stress free here. I set one up without having to prove that I am who I say I am with about a gazillion forms of ID, utility bills and goodness knows what else, (probably a medical history and a detailed account of what you had for your dinner last night) but with one form of ID and in about 15 minutes. My IRD number was done through a simple form. The only thing with that is that the postman seems to like to take his time getting it to me, (probably too busy chilling out, and I have to say I don't blame him) but again, that is a non issue for the time being. In the UK, a bureaucratic hell would be breaking loose over it. I can even DRIVE on my UK license for a year no problem. And guys,don't worry, the likelihood that you will meet me on the roads in this year is fairly unlikely what with me being thousands of miles away. You can look relieved now.

I am literally thousands of miles away which still scares me, and I still havent got my head round the crazy time difference.As I write this, I'm in bed getting ready for a Wednesday, whereas you lot in the UK are just getting out of bed ready for Tuesday and what it will bring. Timezones are beyond my (rather limited) mental capacity.

So after the first 4 weeks of being away, do I have any regrets? Nope. None whatsoever. Perhaps one though, that I forgot my hammock for all this chilling out I'll be scheduling in  doing. (totally unscheduled).

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Kiwi Lovin'

So I've been in NZ for a few days now and this is the first chance I've had to sit down and collect my somewhat sparse thoughts. That, and the fact I have a sprained ankle has meant that it is sort of an enforced sitting down and collecting of thoughts.

The flight over was loonnng and kinda boring, although free wifi in airports does break things up a little. I am now an expert in aeroplane food, and word to the wise, always avoid the chicken.

Anyway I arrived in Auckland at 5 in the morning and couldn't check in til one that afternoon, gutted. Anyway in a bid to beat the jet lag, I took a tour round the city, headed down to the harbour currently undergoing some amazing regeneration and also headed up the Sky Tower. Apart from nearly having a heart attack when I saw someone bungee off the top of the building by the window I was stood at, it was pretty fantastic and I can now add the tallest building in the Southern Hemisphere to my 'BEEN THERE!' hit list. I did all the other standard touristy stuff and spent about 8 hours in the museum there. I won't bore you with all the things I did. I'll probably just make you jealous.

Anyway, cut to the chase I've had a change of plan and have come to Wellington earlier than expected and doing the stereotypical kiwi experience another time soon. Again, another absolutely fab city and dare I say I think I prefer it to Auckland, shocker! Plus the bestest is based here, which helps. The house is fantastic with some of the best views I've ever seen from a lounge.

NZ so far has left a great impression on me, and I love the community feel that the place has. Even in Auckland,which is a pretty hectic city, the people there are all so incredibly chirpy. I haven't come across one  grumpy person yet, not even the bus drivers. Yes, I am looking through rose tinted glasses, and I'm sure once reality hits- and I'm looking for jobs.. I may not feel the same but, for the moment it is lovely.

And on that lovely note, I'll love you and leave you.

Monday, 12 December 2011

The politics of Christmas

So, I like many others have started the countdown to Christmas. Every year I aim to be more organised, and every year I become less so. Demonstrated by the fact that this morning I simply had to eat 5 days worth of Advent chocolates as I'd forgotten to do so the past week. Starting the day with an Advent-sugar-high was pretty good though.

Now, I have long accepted that I will never be one of those people like my Mother who will be wonderfully organised and have everything bought and wrapped with the military type precision that Santa must employ to deliver presents to all the world's children on Christmas Eve by the time I open the first door on my advent calendar. (What do you mean he's not real?!) however I will always get things done, just in my own time and in my own way. Nor would I do what my uncle does and buy it all on Christmas Eve- that's just too much of a risky strategy for Captain Sensible to contemplate.

Christmas obviously is not about the presents (I mean, it makes up a LARGE part of the day, and yes I probably would be put out if Santa hadn't visited, but hey, don't lie, so would you be.) But it is about family and for the religious among us, obviously celebrating the birth of some guy called Jesus. However, for a day that isn't about presents, it is bloody stressful buying the damn things.

It's the politics of it all which really gets my goat. (And before I get labelled as a Scrooge or as some kind of Christmas hater, I'm really not, I love the whole festive season and I'm not gonna say I hate the season just to get some kind of reaction out of someone who's bored enough to read this.) I'm sure you will all know what I'm talking about here- it goes from the whole- "well Betty's second cousin once removed bought me a present last year, I mean it was a sodding pair of hideous socks but I can't not get her something this year in case she gets me something again, and if i'm buying for her then I can't not buy her sister Ethel something as they're spending it together this year"  to the incredibly awkward moment when you've just spent a fiver on a chocolate selection box for a friend, and they then rudely present you with a beautifully gift wrapped box with your favourite perfume inside. So. Awkward.

I'm not going to spend a fortune this year Christmas, as I made the unwise decision to move to New Zealand with next to no savings in the new year, and I've made the decision not to get so stressed about them either. The thing is even with the shitty presents you will inevitably get- from the sub-standard board games to the pair of tights, to the bath set that smells like old ladies, you still appreciate that there was some level of thought put into them.. For example, I know that the bar of soap I got last year was given to me because I do like to keep clean. (sense the sarcasm.)

Seriously though, I reckon, as we all do- that presents I buy for people are spot-on, but if that were true, then nobody would ever complain about the presents they got, and there would be absolutely no need for the dreaded Gift Receipt.. (praise be the Gift Receipt). So there must be some presents we have all bought that are some serious faux pars.

Which is probably why I still quite like the idea of Santa. He always got it spot on. Less stressful too that way, and a (admittedly, somewhat feeble) excuse to put off buying presents a little while longer.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

three questions..

Today, whilst stuck on the M56, aka my second home these days (expect the new home cards through the post any day now notifying you of my new residence) with a colleague, he started spouting something or other about Psychology and how he'd be able to tell a lot about me by asking just three questions.

I sighed, rolled my eyes, and decided that this traffic jam might just warrant indulging him in this conversation. (don't worry, he knows he most probably was talking like a crazy man. I blame the M56.)

He asked three questions, I can't remember what they were, but they were nothing special, like 'where did you go on your last holiday?' (Dubai, for those bored enough to want to know. And, it was great.)

Anyway, I answered and he in return analysed what I said to him in a fairly accurate way in that he mentioned a couple of things that made me think that how we act with others in everyday life and with other lovely people is quite revealing.

I think I generally hold my cards quite close to my chest, but with close people in my life I let them in probably a bit too far.But in the past 6 months, in the job I've held, I am amazed at how much someone will reveal to a relative stranger without, for the most part, realising it.

With a background in sales, now fundraising- which is the softer, more cuddly cousin of sales, I've been trained into submission to pick up the language people use, and the body language they give to you in order to alter your pitch, and I've learnt how to effectively steer the conversation away from Great Aunt Betty's recent trip on a cruise back to something a little more profitable. And sometimes,you just can't help but employ the same tactics whilst talking to your nearest and dearest. If you suddenly find yourself agreeing to take me on a shopping spree round Selfridges for no apparent reason, I give you permission to point the finger of blame at me.. (Of course I'd never do that. That's just too obvious.)

It made me think, first impressions of a person are more often than not pretty accurate. I am way too willing to judge a book by its cover, but for good reason, I'm [usually] right.

For example: Harry Potter books- GREAT covers, GREAT books. An introduction to the Complete History of the Single Market: MUNDANE cover, MUNDANE content. It's a scientifically tested (by yours truly). Fact.

An old boss of mine once said that they make a decision about whether they'd hire the interviewee within 5 minutes of the person walking into their office. I like to think that it was a good decision made when they hired me.

But it makes me wonder how many graduates have missed out on their dream job simply on the wrong first impression of a candidate by a potential employer? One button not done up, the wrong tie with a shirt, or one flimsy handshake and you could be waving goodbye to that golden opportunity. That is kinda depressing   when you think of the weeks of prep you put into that interview so that you try to make the 'right' impression isn't it? Just really emphasises the notion that every little helps. (Man, I hate Tesco for coining that cliche.)

Note to friends: watch out for those subliminal messages in forthcoming conversations. cough *selfridgesshoppingspree* cough..

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Wish me luck?

Okay, so this morning, on one of my (many) days off I watched a great program by the clever and slightly creepy Derren Brown about the concept of luck, and whether it is something we can bring on ourselves through the taking of opportunities.

I have recently made the choice to hop on a plane in February to New Zealand and live there for a year or so. It's all happened fairly suddenly.. quite like the time I agreed to go to Ecuador for a few months in a vain attempt to try and do something good and worthwhile. I didn't actually achieve all that much when there though, except an unusually good knowledge of Amazonian plants and their properties, and how to handle a machette. I didn't even take the time to learn how to spell machette, hence the crap spelling.

This could actually turn out to be quite like that, but I hope I'll be able to spell better this time round.

I got the visa approved and the flights booked within a week. Nothing like jumping at an opportunity.

The thing is with opportunities, I really am starting to think that if we never took the opportunities presented to us, we could go round thinking we were the unluckiest person that were to ever walk this earth. Take this bloke on this Derren Brown show, he believed he was incredibly unlucky. As a result he didn't play a scratchcard where he would have won a television, but another time he took an opportunity, he won six grand. Some would say that's lucky, but I think he took a risk and the risk paid off thanks to grasping the opportunity rather than luck. It could have gone the other way and he'd have lost a grand (ouch). I suspect some jiggery-pokery went on behind the scenes.

I'm not even sure I believe in luck. For example, the fact that I mistakenly squirted Cif into my cup of tea earlier today could be said to be unlucky, when really, it was me just being an idiot and trying to move a cup of tea and a bottle of Cif one handed whilst cleaning the kitchen with the other hand. Pretty idiotic.On the other hand, it could be seen to be quite lucky that I noticed the thing abusing my cup of Yorkshire Tea before actually drinking it. So looking at it like that, the whole concept of luck is a pretty stupid one.

Mind you, the whole concept of me going to New Zealand could be a pretty stupid one, considering I thought my friend was having me on when she told me the Kiwi was a bird in NZ hence the name, Kiwi. I'm notoriously gullible and would believe you if you told me it was illegal to eat cheese. (Thanks for that, Abi.) It's not something I'm proud of and would like to say I'm working on this issue but that would be a blatent lie..

Anyway, seriously sidetracked there- the flights are paid for, the visa is approved and my parents will be pushing me onto the plane whether I like it or not. If anything so they have a good holiday lined up for next year. But if I can't do anything like this now, then when on earth will I do it? And what the chuff was holding me back?(As soon as my Mum asked this, I knew I should be booking my plane tickets) It'll end up being one of those things, like washing your car (unless you're my Dad with a serious car washing related OCD issue) that you  never seem to get round to (unless it's just me that never washes her car) but know you really should do, because it'll be great once you have. (I know washing your car doesn't even compare with an extended trip to NZ- but since the Cif incident I've had little caffeine today, so give me a break).

Fear not, my NZ ramble is over.. I best get round to washing my car now.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

back to square one..

The real reason I started writing this blog about a year ago is that I was actually quite bored at work- and felt the need to start writing about life after graduating because I felt it perhaps wasn't all I had imagined it to be when I first started uni back in 2007 as a young whippersnapper and was probably quite frustrated at my situation.

So, imagine my continued frustration at being made redundant at the age of 22 less than a year after graduating, due to something totally out of my control and once more about to join the other graduates in the job centre. I still think I got lucky with landing the first job, and with the second even more so.

Okay okay- so I am lucky to have had two jobs in the last year when some graduates are struggling to find one job. The current job I'm in at the moment is a 6 month contract and ends just before Christmas.. It has been an amazing few months and I have learnt so much in this role and has given me so much experience and effectively pimped out my CV to the MAX. I'll be gutted to be leaving it.

To be honest with you- the year since graduating has been a little like a game of Snake and Ladders. One moment I felt like I'm making great headway up the career ladder- the next moment someone has thrown the dice and I'm knocked off the ladder, down the snake and back to square one.

It begs the question: WHAT DO YOU EMPLOYERS WANT FROM GRADUATES?!

I know so many graduates who are so deserving- taking unpaid internships, slogging away in voluntary roles to gain experience, biding their time, applying for countless jobs but going round in circles not getting anywhere any time soon- It almost becomes a farcical game of Risk (had to get the word farcical in here somewhere..) never mind Snakes and Ladders.

It isn't helped by the fact when looking into moving to a country crying out for more applicants to jobs they don't want you as you possess none of the necessary skills needed- even a country desperate to get people into jobs don't want your application. 'Your' here obviously is me. I blatantly should have listened to my step grandmother when she told me to become a plumber instead of laughing in her face before stating that I could never pull off the blue overall look. Blue overalls certainly seem quite fetching now (plus think of all the accessories  opportunities it would bring, bonus!)

So next steps- I have no idea. I'm starting to think a Post-It on my head and wandering round Manchester shouting give me a job may be just the thing. That or it'll get me carted of by the men in white coats- at least then I won't need to job hunt, ey?!

I'll quit with the moaning now and stop the procrastination from my Sunday afternoon job hunt, and perhaps go and buy some post it notes..