Is it still January?

January has been such a long month! Not that I’ve done a lot with the endless amounts of time that seem to be between us and the New Year now – it feels like this has just been a month of working, sleeping and waiting to get paid. An early pay day in December seems great at the time, but 6 weeks between pay days seems like a massive stretch now.

Despite the incredible amount of rain we’ve been getting recently, we have still managed to get out most weekends with Alf. I’ve even bought myself some upper sexy outdoorsy walking trousers. Ok so they’re not going to in any style awards, but they are comfortable, warm, water-resistant and mean I don’t have to risk damaging any of my smarter trousers on our outdoor adventures.

I’ve really enjoyed being able to get out-and-about up here, even when the weather isn’t perfect. The scenery is beautiful and most places we go are so quiet we barely see another person. Plus I can really do with the exercise – a desk job isn’t agreeing with my waistline.


When the weather hasn’t been so good I’ve been doing some reading – books and magazines – I seem to read an inordinate number of magazines these days, particularly compared to a few years ago. Current favourites include The Simple Things, Mollie Makes, Women’s Health, Delicious, Good Food and I recently picked up my first copy of Things & Ink. I don’t read all of these on a monthly basis, I only subscribe to The Simple Things and pick the others up as and when I remember and am particularly interested in the edition. I’ve also subscribed to Audible, so I can listen to audiobooks at work when thing are a bit quiet or in the evening if I’m too tired to read. The first audiobook I’ve downloaded is The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton, which won The Man Booker Prize or 2013. I’m enjoying it a lot, there’s definitely a lot of mystery and intrigue.



I suppose the most noteworthy event of January is that I have got a new job! I interviewed yesterday afternoon and was offered the position by the evening 🙂 I’m very excited by the new opportunity. My current job has only been on a three month contract which expires at the end of February, plus it hasn’t been the most exciting job in the world – but they have paid me my first decent salary, so I’ve tried not to complain too much. The new job is about the same money but I’ll get a two year contract which gives us much more security and the possibility of being able to buy our own place soon(ish). I start in the beginning of March and I’m very excited. I think this will definitely call for a shopping spree for some new (work appropriate) clothes and shoes J  I’ve done  fair amount of browsing online lately and there’s quite a long list of things I’ like to add to my wardrobe. I’ll probably have to go through and whittle the list down though, we are trying to save for a house a well!

Roll on Friday evening,

Love


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Weekend Catch-up

I haven’t been feeling quite myself this past week. From time to time my stomach decides to throw a bit of a hissy fit and leaves me feeling bloated and nauseated – and this week has been one of those times 😦
So I’ve been feeling a bit sorry for myself and not been getting up to as much as I would have liked.

It’s been especially frustrating as I have (finally) got myself a job, which starts a week on Monday, so I had been hoping to make the most of my last weeks of freedom.
I’m going to be working for the local University, engaging with local companies who have been involved in a University project to find out the benefits they got out of working with the Uni. It’s actually only a three month contract to start with, with the possibility of extension, but it’s definitely the best (only) offer I’ve had all year!
It’s sounds like a really interesting role, but on of the best things (other than getting paid) is that it’s only a five minute walk away from the house 🙂
It’s also been an excuse to do some clothes shopping, which I haven’t really been able to do for a long time as I haven’t had an income. Even though it was only work clothes it was still nice to be able to treat myself. I mostly bought trousers as I have tops that are work appropriate but the only trousers I really have are jeans that I obviously can’t get away with in an office. I might get around to taking some photos for you to see when I’m feeling less bloated and obese.

It has got rather cold here as well this week – so as well as being ill I’ve been staying inside to avoid the cold. I’m hoping the office where I’ll be working has got good heating :/
The cold isn’t all bad though as it means we get to put the fire on and get snuggled up in a blanket. The animals (cat and dog) are definitely on board with that plan too- they’re either trying to psych each other off of my blanket or spreading themselves out in front of the fire. They aren’t the best of friend, but their mutual love of warmth had brought them closer together than ever these past few days.

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I’ve also been doing quite a lot of crochet again, it’s a good snuggly winter evening activity 🙂 I’ve been working on some animal xmas baubles that are quite easy but super cute. The pattern is an original design by All About Ami which you can find here, there are also loads of other great designs and helpful hints and tips all really well illustrated with photos.

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I’m on my own this evening as the parents are away in Vietnam and Pete is out seeing a friend who has come up to climb in Snowdonia. Evenings on your own only mean one thing – personal indulgence 🙂 Not wanting to tempt fate, but my stomach is feeling the best it has done in 2 days, so I might go and treat myself to a mug cake!

Hope you are all well,

Love,

Betty

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Far Over The Misty Mountains Cold

I’ve still not quite got back into the blogging habit, have I. Things have been a bit busy, well, busier than I have been used to for quite a while anyway. Pete and I have both been doing some teaching at the University, only a couple of hours a week but often quite spread out so we end up spending most of our days there.

Things are going to be getting even busier for Pete now though, as he got a job this week! As of the 1st of November he will be a full time teaching assistant and PhD student at the uni. We are both so happy and I am very proud of him. Not only is it great news because we a) have an income and b) have a definite reason to stay in North Wales for at least 3 years, but he has been trying to get funding to do a PhD for a long time now, so it’s so nice that all his hard work has finally paid off.
He interviewed for and was offered the position on Wednesday, but as we had to work again on both Thursday and Friday we put off celebrating until Friday evening. I cooked a huge Chinese feast, as he loves Chinese food and it meant I got to go to the local Oriental Supermarket and search through all the exciting things. My favourite bits are always the ‘accesories’ – prawn crackers, spring rolls and fortune cookies 🙂 I meant to get pictures but it all got eaten so quickly I didn’t get chance!

The plus side of being kept busy during the week (other than making some money) is that our weekends feel more proper again and we try and make the effort to get out and do things – ideally things that Alf can join in with as well.

Last weekend we visited the local Farmers’ Market and picked up some pumpkins to carve for Halloween. If you are a regular reader you are probably aware that I LOVE Halloween (see my previous Halloween posts herehere, here, here and here). My plans this year include pumpkin carving, helping out with a kids’ Halloween craft event at the nearby National Trust property (including dressing up) and going to see Benedict Cumberbatch as The Creature in Frankenstein at the cinema. Oh yes, and hopefully get some Halloween baking in :)I’ve been trying to think of a design to carve into my pumpkin this evening. I’m not totally set on an idea yet, but I’ve put together some ideas on a Pinterest board. I will blog about it once it’s done.

Today we went on a trip to Beddgelert (pronounced Beth-gelert), which translates as Gelert’s Grave. Beddgelert is a village in Snowdonia National Park which (allegedly) takes it’s name from the nearby grave of/monument to Gelert, a dog that belonged to Prince Llewellyn, Prince of Gwynedd. The legend of Llewellyn and Gelert tells how, upon returning from a hunting trip, Llewellyn was greeted by Gelert who was covered in blood and discovered his baby son missing from his crib. Llewellyn immediately drew his sword and slew Gelert for murdering his son, but, as Gelert gave his last whimper, Llewellyn heard the cries of a baby and discovered the child, unharmed, alongside the dead body of a wolf. Realising his error, that Gelert had in fact saved his son and not killed him, Llewellyn had his faithful hound buried in a big ceremony and was said never to have smiled again.
We were following a route from a new book my mum bought us – Countryside Dog Walks: Snowdonia. It’s a really good guide, breaking walks down by level of difficulty (this one was an ‘Easy’) and gives helpful information about parking and facilities. The instructions are really clear and easy to follow, even for someone with as poor a sense of direction as me, it was obviously written by someone who has walked the route and not just looked at it on Google Earth.

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The route took us briefly through part of Beddgelert village then onto Gelert’s Grave just on the edge of the village. The grave itself was quite humble, a large rock flanked by two trees with two plaques in front of it telling the story of Gelert (one in English and one in Welsh). Just beyond the grave are the ruins of a small building, inside which is a bronze sculpture of a dog which we tried to get Alf to make friend with, although he wasn’t exactly sure. Most of the other visitors made it as far as the grave, a few ventured the extra ten or so yards to the house, but once we ventured on with the walk past the ruins we didn’t see another person until the end when we returned to the car park. On one hand it’s a shame that everyone else missed out on the beautiful scenery and views, but on the other, it was really nice and peaceful having the whole place to ourselves.

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The title of the post is taken from the song of the Dwarves from The Hobbit, which came into my head as we walked through a forested area with several rocky outcrops and a carpet of fallen leaves, moss and mushrooms – it just seemed appropriate (even thought it was, thankfully, not particularly misty or cold). The lack of people did make the whole walk feel like a bit of a mysterious adventure – going through forest, through gaps in stone walls and along and across rapid little streams.
Alf absolutely loved it, running through the trees, smelling every smell he came across and climbing every rock and wall that we encountered along the way. He got thoroughly wet and muddy and was really quite tired by the time we got back to the car – he slept wrapped up in a towel on Pete’s lap the whole way home.

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We were rather lucky with the weather, just as we got back to the car it had started to spit with rain and had started absolutely chucking it down within minutes of us leaving.

I really love living up here, it’s so much more relaxed and beautiful than the south coast. There are certain things I miss about Southampton and it’s proximity to London, but I’m not sure they’re worth giving up living here for. Plus, once I get my own job, it shouldn’t be too hard to make the occasional visit 🙂

I hope things are going well for all of you and that you’re looking forward to Halloween, however you chose to spend it.
Also, what do you think of the new blog look?

Love,

Betty

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Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans

Life might happen while you’re making other plans, but blogging certainly doesn’t. Once again, I am very sorry for my recent – unplanned – absence.

April has been a really mixed-up and pretty busy month for me and for Pete.

Despite starting to apply for jobs back in September or October  last year, before I even finished my thesis, I am still jobless. Lack of a job, lack of available funds and having to attend the Job Centre for help has all been getting me down quite a lot.
I’ve had a couple of what seemed like quite good job prospects. I had one interview that went well but I didn’t get the job in the end as other applicants had more appropriate experience. Another good possibility has recently been taken off the cards due to lack of funding. Along with losing these possibilities, we’ve had to give-up on the prospect of moving – either out of our flat or even to a new city – at least for the time being. That’s been hard as the prospect of moving was quite a big part of what was keeping me going.
All of this combined hasn’t helped in keeping me hopeful or motivated to do, well, anything really.

I have had to try and keep my motivation up as best as possible though, as April was also a pretty important month – I had my PhD Viva – the big, final, oral examination on your thesis where two academics quiz you on what you did and why. It was an absolutely awful prospect, even the thought of preparing was scary, the day itself was terrifying  – absolutely stomach-churning, wobbly-knees, cold-sweats terrifying. Technically, I could have failed and come away from 4 years of study with nothing!
Thankfully it all went well. I was sat in the room with my examiners for nearly three and a half hours discussing my work, but they seemed to like it and I managed to answer all their questions pretty well. So, having got through that, with the exception of a few corrections, for all intents and purposes I am now a Doctor!

Since my viva I’ve been keeping on with job applications and making a start on my corrections, but, despite the great news of passing my PhD, I haven’t exactly been feeling great because of everything else on my mind.

In amongst all the planning moves, changing plans, applying for random jobs and tightening budgets, things might actually be starting to look up – Pete has just got himself a new, full time job, starting on Monday. It will mean him being away Monday to Friday for the next few months but means we’ll have more money coming in and we won’t be going to the Job Centre anymore.
For me, I’ve just got to keep working on my corrections and applying for jobs but also try and keep my mood up. Hopefully I can manage to get back to posting more regularly again.

Thanks for bearing with me,

Betty

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