Love Actually is All Around

I am unbelievably excited for Christmas. I can’t even begin to tell you. I’m certain I’m driving people at work nuts with it, mostly because I’m unbelievably prepared this year. All of the gifts are bought, there are just a few left to be wrapped and all of my Christmas Cards are written and ready to be posted. My manager was kind enough to bring some stuff over to Toronto with her when she went for a business meeting this week, and the rest I sent home with my family last weekend (along with a bag of clothes – idea a la auntie Helen) so that when I go up north at Christmas, all I need to bring with me is my handbag. I am prepared, folks, for all things! So when Alex suggested we go to town this evening and watch them turn on the Christmas lights, I thought OOOH YAY CHRISTMAS THING.

The place was packed, and on the second floor of the shopping centre, there was a huge Christmas tree that would light up at the end of a ten second countdown. The energy was amazing. I don’t usually like crowds of people, never mind when most of them are under the age of seven (sorry, kids. Just not my scene) but everyone was just so happy. The kids were smiling and dancing along with the band that was playing, the parents were happy watching them, and when the countdown started, the whole place boomed. Five, four, three, two, ONE! All the lights on all the trees in the mall lit up, the music started, confetti fired from the ceiling, and it was absolutely beautiful. Of course, I only got to enjoy it for a brief moment with a huge smile on my face before I burst into tears. Because this is all I could hear over the roar of the crowd:

“Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion’s starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s always there –fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge – they were messages of love. If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that love actually is all around.”

It took me a good ten minutes to get my poop in a group, and thank god for good friends because Alex gave me a cuddle, called me an asshole (or, aaarsehole) and it brought me ‘round. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still excited for Christmas, and I can’t wait to spend it with my family, but it was just a gentle reminder that I definitely will NOT be watching Love Actually this year.

Do any of you have Holiday traditions that you’d be happy to share? Any Holiday, I’d love to hear all about it!

Love yourselves, darlings.

xo Em

⇒ please note that while I would love to claim responsibility for the badassery of the feature image used in this post, I regret to inform you that it was not taken and is not owned by me. click here for original image. ⇐

 

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Life

Well hello there you sexy things, you! It’s been a while, I hope you’ve all been misbehaving. xo

What can I say? Life is absolutely amazing. Of course there have been a few trial and error days. I boasted about a pair of pineapple shoes on Facebook the first time I wore them and they fell apart half an hour later. (Yes, I walked home in a pair of shoes that only had one sole. Yes, I wore them after. Yes, I’m still wearing them, even though the other sole is gone now and the edges are tearing away from the shoe. I WILL NOT SURRENDER.) There was the time I tried to bake and failed miserably because trying to convert measurements is like trying to herd cats. There was the Thanksgiving I threw, with the almost-raw turkey. (I say almost because I caught on in time. Of course, it was as dry as Frankie Boyle’s sense of humour, but hey, that’s what gravy’s for!) But all in all? Guys, I’m telling you, this is the life.

I’ve been fortunate enough to make some really good friends in the time that I’ve been here, and I can safely say that it feels like I’ve been around much longer than almost four months. I’m so grateful to these amazing people for making this transition here so fluid and easy. Just for the record, everyone needs to have a friend to celebrate posh Monday with, because regular Mondays are shit no matter where you are in the world. Do whatever you like on posh Monday, just make sure it’s something that makes you happy with someone that makes you laugh. It’s one of my most favourite days of the week now!

I got mixed reviews when I first started on this venture: some people said the first few months were going to be the best, other said the first few months were going to be the worst. Honestly, I’ve never been so zen in my whole life so if I am distressed, I have no idea! Here’s what I’ve put together:

I’m taking each and every day as it comes. Even if the sun is shining and the birds are singing, if you wake up in the morning expecting to feel devastated, that’s exactly what’s going to happen. Of course I’ve had a few tough days. I had to sit out of both of my parent’s birthday’s this year (a big one for my mum, though I won’t say it out loud because she’ll write me out of the will) and that was tough. I even had a little boo-hoo. But that was it, just a little one. Aside from that, it’s been very smooth sailing.

I’ve traveled more by train in the last four months than I have in the last 26 years, and I absolutely love it. It’s pretty well stress-free, the view is amazing and there’s no stop-and go traffic. I’ve learned that the M25 here is basically the equivalent of the 400 in Ontario on a long weekend. But, like, all the time. So I get to kick back, relax, put my headphones in and enjoy the ride when I travel up to see my family and it’s absolutely delicious. However, I got a glimpse into what so many Brits complain about last month when I went to visit. I got on the 6:30 train north, final stop being Edinburgh, and oh. My. God. The chaos. I was clever enough to have booked a seat when I booked my ticket and THANK THE LORD FOR THAT. Guys. There were people. Everywhere. Sitting in seats. Sitting on arm rests, perched on tables, sitting in the aisles, standing in the aisles, sitting by the doors, standing by the doors. Parents sat their kids in the luggage hold so they didn’t get trampled. One guy even took perch on the toilet until someone needed to use it. (Brave soul. I don’t pee on things that move so I didn’t witness it first hand, but the train grapevine had a good giggle about it.) At one point, the conductor on the PA reminded everyone to keep aisles and walkways clear for emergency purposes and literally everyone in the train car burst into laughter because, well, reasons. The crowd hadn’t even thinned out that much by the time we got to Doncaster, and even the trip from Doncaster to Scunthorpe was a treat! There was a Scottish lady (…I use the term ‘lady’ liberally, here) on the train shouting down the phone to whoever it was that was supposed to pick her up and in the mix of Scottish things that I couldn’t understand, what I could make out was “AM NO WALKIN’ THRU SCUNTHORPE HIGH STREET ON MA OWN SON, I’D RATHER WALK BACK TO FUCKIN’ EDINBURGH, DO YA HEAR ME?” It took everything in me not to laugh, mostly because she looked like she could probably kill me. I gave her a spare lighter when we got off the train though, so we’re tight now.

More exciting news – I’m going to be a Godmother! My best friend and her husband are expecting their little bundle in early April, so when I go back to Canada in August it will all be official. I’m so excited that, even from so far away, I get to be a part of this baby’s life. Do any long-distance Godparents out there have any advice? I’d love to hear it, because I’m bricking it a little bit!

Tell me what’s going on with you, lovely’s. I will be back soon with another post, I promise I won’t leave it so long next time.

Until then, I love you all, darlings!

xo Em

⇒ please note that while I would love to claim responsibility for the badassery of the feature image used in this post, I regret to inform you that it was not taken and is not owned by me. click here for original image. ⇐

 

 

 

 

5 Things 1.0

So I’ve been here for a month now and I thought I’d share with you the top five things I’m missing. Let me immediately get myself out of trouble regarding this post by prefacing that these are five things I miss ASIDE from the obvious family and friends and the experiences I share with them. That should go without saying. xo

  1. My dog.

I miss that furry little bastard more than you can imagine. Well, I bet you can imagine if you’ve ever had to leave one behind. I miss her little idiosyncrasies and her snoring and her little poking-out tongue and our afternoon snuggles. I miss having her wake me up in the morning by sniffing at my eyes until she sneezed. I miss the sound of her little feets padding across the hardwood floor.  I miss her absolutely miserable face when she gets a bath. I miss giving her little tummy rubs and attacking her with my alter-ego, the kissy monster. I miss her little black button nose and white sock paws. I even miss her hogging the bed on the nights she slept in my room instead of my mum and dad’s. There will never be a better snuggle buddy than my Daisy. Having the cats in the house has definitely made the transition easier than if I had had to go animal cold-turkey, but my pup will always be my bub. A few family friends have gone over to visit my mum and dad for 10 days and I had to stop myself from reading the riot act. ‘Don’t look at Daisy. Don’t touch Daisy. Don’t make friends with Daisy because she’s my dog and I miss her more than you will like her.” But, realizing I’m 26, I kept it together and cried on the inside like a winner because they’re going to get puppy snuggles and I’m not. –deep breath- Okay, I can’t talk about this anymore.

  1. Thunder Storms

Everyone knows England is rainy. Before I left, among the snuggles and the fond farewells was a constant flow of ‘enjoy the sun while you can!’ ‘say goodbye to summer!’ ‘you’re never gonna get a tan again!’ (All false-hoods for the record. The first month I was here it was BEAUTIFUL and I got a tan and it was so hot out my roommate and I were having dreams that we were in hell.) But I miss a good Southern Ontario thunder storm; the kind of storm that rumbles in your chest and lights up the sky. I love summer storms, I always have. They always have a way of lulling me to sleep, whether I’m tired or not. The storms we got up at the lake were AMAZING. You could see it rolling across the lake towards our park and the anticipation was exhilarating, and then when it hit? WHAM! A thing of day-dreams, my friends.  The rain here almost seems like it’s half-assing it, if I’m honest.

  1. Tim Hortons

Duh. But, the good news is, it’s coming to England on a larger scale! Does anyone know if it’s the same roast? If it’s not, please tell me and I’ll stop being excited immediately. It’s not that I can’t get a perfectly good cuppa joe around these parts, but EVERYONE has prices like Starbucks – which is a nice treat once in a while but god do I ever miss a toonie for a steaming hot cup of caffeinated wonderful.

4. The Sound of Trains

Where I grew up, the house was situated right behind the rail station and as such we would have trains coming through at all times of the day or night. When we first moved in, I thought I had kissed sleeping goodbye forever. After a year I could pretty well tell time by them. Now the tracks are nowhere close and sometimes it’s so quiet I have a hard time falling asleep. I’m sure, just like I did fifteen years ago, I will adjust but for now it’s a lot of ceiling staring.

5. WalMart

Also a given. Cheap shoes? Yes please. Fun kitchen gadgets? All over the place! Wall stickers? Not that I ever used them, but in case you spend an hour and a half roaming Walmart to no avail, they’re in hardware. (Wtf right?) A magical place where you can get your underpants, your new whisk and some tomatoes in the same place – it was a beautiful thing. Another thing I miss that I can tie right into here is my fuzzy white microfiber blanket because that thing could lull a fully grown colicky lion to sleep in .7 seconds flat. (This one makes sense – it’s in the bedding section. Go get one. Now. And feel my joy. As long as you don’t cuddle up with my dog, we’ll be cool. Also, probably don’t try that lion thing.)

Is there anything you travelers reading this blog miss from home? Share with me! I’d love to know.

Love yourselves, darlings.

xo Em

⇒ please note that while I would love to claim responsibility for the badassery of the feature image used in this post, I regret to inform you that it was not taken and is not owned by me. click http://www.blogto.com/upload/2011/08/2011825-cn-dark-horiz.jpg  for original image. ⇐

The First Month

I HAVE SO MUCH CATCHING UP TO DO. So bare with me – this may be a long-winded one.

So when I left you, I was almost being murdered in my office. But just BEFORE that I was headed to Maidstone for my interview for my national insurance number. I can safely tell you that the Maidstone weekend was a bit of a flop if I’m honest. I got there too late in the afternoon on Saturday to really get ready and go anywhere, so I thought ‘That’s fine! I’ll go to the Castle on Sunday!’ Not the case, the buses don’t run out that way on a Sunday. (My own silly fault, I should have checked beforehand.) HOWEVER! There was a beautiful church across the road from my hotel. While I’m not a particularly religious person (ahemnotatallreligious) I really do love going into old churches and cathedrals – there’s nothing like the architecture and looking up at all of the old stained glass windows. I noted that the morning service didn’t start until 10:30, so I figured if I the doors were unlocked early enough I could sneak in for a little peak and make myself scarce before I interrupted anyone.

So I set my alarm and went over at nine thirty, a good hour before the service was to start. I thought I had it in the bag, guys. I thought I was a smooth bandit, church dodging like Carmen San Diego. I got through the front door – it was a piece of cake! And then there he was. The sweetest elderly gentleman, in his tweed suit, who looked at me with big brown eyes and said;

“Good morning, young lady. Welcome. Would you like a song book?”

Let me tell you. I haven’t practiced Catholicism in upwards of 15 years, but that age-old, years of ingrained Catholic guilt came RUSHING back to me like an unwelcome relative. I couldn’t say no. He was so kind and so sweet, and in that second I was so not okay with saying “oh no thanks I just want to see the windows”. So, not wanting to be rude and figuring I could make an escape when the church filled up, I said thank you and took the book, making myself as comfortable as possible on one of the old wooden pews at the back of the church.

There were a few people who came over to welcome me to the congregation, and it really did touch my heart. Like I said, I may not have practiced Catholicism in 15 years, and there are a lot of things I think are VERY wrong with the whole institution, but these were good people with a belief in something greater than themselves and I could tell that it gave them peace. So while I may have groaned internally when I couldn’t escape (being as when everyone was done getting seated, there were a whopping 12 people in the congregation) I stood up, sat down and made all of the right motions because the whole service meant something to them, and I didn’t want to disrespect them in their own house of worship, especially when they had been so kind and welcoming to me.

My interview for my national insurance number interview was on Monday morning at 9AM. I was told to bring some paperwork and prepare for a 30-45 minute interview. So that’s what I did – I even got there early, like you should when you go for an interview. I sat down at 8:45. I was calling for a cab at 8:55. Ten. Minutes. Ten minutes and a ‘we’ll send you our decision in the mail.’ Cheers, folks.

But the goods news is, I DID get my letter in the mail, they DID make their decision, and now I am officially a tax paying citizen of the UK! YAY ME!

Aside from that, everything has been going so well. Work is great, home is great, and I got to go visit my family for the long weekend last weekend, which was just amazing. I am a planner, and sometimes it can be both a blessing and a curse. Needless to say, leaving my fate in the hands of public transport was a bit of a source of anxiety for me. There were three changes on my journey, so that made things even worse. I had to go from Tunbridge Wells to Charing Cross, Charing Cross to Kings Cross, Kings Cross to Doncaster and then Doncaster to Scunthorpe. For a girl who grew up in a small town that didn’t even HAVE trains past 7pm on a weeknight and absolutely none on the weekends, you can imagine how much I was looking forward to this. But it all went off without a hitch. The people at work were so kind and reassuring, and gave me some tips and pointers on navigating my way through London between Charing Cross and Kings Cross. As it turns out, I was an hour earlier than anticipated leaving Tunbridge Wells and an hour earlier leaving London. Unfortunately we got stuck behind the slow Lincoln service so I still arrived at the scheduled ETA, but the point is I got there safe and sound. It was a quiet night on Friday, being as I got in at 22:30, but my feet hit the ground on Saturday morning and it was non-stop after that. My auntie and I went for pedicures, I popped in to say hello to my Grandma and then a few of the family and I went out to the pub before heading to a favourite local Indian restaurant and then back to the pub. We celebrated my grandma’s 91st birthday with her on Sunday (even though her actual birthday wasn’t until Monday, she wanted to make sure I was there for lunch because I had to leave early Monday afternoon) and then we all somehow ended up at the pub again. Go figure!

Grandma’s birthday was a little bittersweet, being as it was also my dad’s birthday. Of course I had sent him a card but for the last few years up north, we’ve done a party for him and it made me a little sad this year that I couldn’t give him a birthday hug or have dinner with him at OUR local pub. It sounds like he had a nice day though, and I know my mum is more than capable of handling the birthday  festivities on her own.

Last night I had my first night out in Tunbridge Wells with a few of the girls from the office and we had such a good night! One of the girls and I went out for sushi, and though it was a little rushed, we had a good laugh about it. She had just finished saying that she had finally relaxed after a long, rushed week at work, when one of the staff came up to us and said “I don’t mean to rush you, but I have this table booked for seven thirty.” It was seven fifteen. The table was covered in food. Needless to say we had to make like human vacuums in the fifteen minutes we had left to finish dinner. Also needless to say, I didn’t leave a tip. From there, we met up with another one of the girls for drinks and at that point it was all cocktails and laughs. I really do work with a good group of people, I’m a very lucky girl.

Today, I am headed down to The Pantiles for a little browse around, as they have an open market every other weekend, and this is that weekend, and everyone knows how much I love open markets! I’m really looking forward to it. I’ll send pics, I promise!

Love yourselves, darlings, and take charge of your destiny. It’ll be the best thing you ever do for yourself.

xo Em

⇒ please note that while I would love to claim responsibility for the badassery of the feature image used in this post, I regret to inform you that it was not taken and is not owned by me. click here for original image. ⇐

 

Late Night

It’s 6PM and you’re the only person left in the office. All is calm, all is quiet, and all you can hear is the sound of your fingers tapping on the keyboard and the hum of the fan in your computer. You’re the most productive at this time of night: emails have stopped, phones aren’t ringing – you are in the zone. Until you realize that it’s getting darker, and when you look up from the screen, the lights are slowly start to go out. One. By. One. All of a sudden, your desk is the only one with a light on over it, highlighting you, putting a spotlight on you, offering you to the beasts in motion. Your heart starts to race. You don’t know what’s going on. Your clammy palms reach for the cell phone in your purse when you hear footsteps in the kitchen. Heavy, intentional, loping footsteps, made by heavy boots with a purpose. What do you do? You know you can’t make it to the door without being seen, and hiding under your desk is futile. You heart is racing, there’s a lump in your throat. That fight or flight instinct kicks in.

But don’t panic because the lights are motion activated and the security guard is coming in to make sure the windows and doors are locked.

True story. Welcome to my night. Good freaking lord.

xo Em

 

⇒ please note that while I would love to claim responsibility for the badassery of the feature image used in this post, I regret to inform you that it was not taken and is not owned by me. click here for original image. ⇐

Week 2

Week two seems to have gone by in a flash!

I started up at work again on Monday, and my god did the time fly. I’ve been training, project doing and covering desks left right and centre and I have to say that I’m working with a really great group of people. I feel like I’ve spent the majority of my career there already, aside from the things that I still have to learn. The only frustrating part of this week is exactly that – I’m so used to knowing what I’m doing, of being the person that trains the people in my roll that it’s strange for me to not know, to have to be the one asking questions. The sooner I can get up and running the better, because I’m afraid that, with regards to the workload, I feel a bit like a fish out of water. But I will not despair! I’ll get there soon.

So I’ve got a bit of a routine for myself now. Every morning I get up, get ready and catch the early bus into town so I can get myself a coffee and watch the world go by for a little bit before I finish my walk to work. I kinda like my view.

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I don’t mind waking up early if this is where I get to spend my mornings. #nofilter

When I started on Monday, my manager told me about this little park beside of the office that no one uses that’s home to a Koi pond and a really beautiful garden. She also told me that no one ever really uses it. So, naturally, I had to explore. I have dubbed it my little lunchtime hideaway – these people really don’t know what they’re missing out on!

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Need I say more? #nofilter

It’s so quiet and serene in this place. All you can hear is the sound of the wind in the trees and the fish in the pond despite the main road being just a stairwell away.

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So to put it plainly, without getting mushy, my soul is happy here.

And off to Maidstone this weekend! I’m really looking forward to it – I didn’t realize this until a few days ago but I’ve been before. When I was a kid, my parents sent me here for a month to stay with my family during the summer holidays and during that month, I spent some time in Kent. We took a tour of Leeds Castle during that trip and I think I may just do a re-take of that this weekend. I’ve been doing some research on the city and, like most places here, there is TONS of history in the place. I can’t wait to discover it for myself. Read all about it here on Monday. 🙂

Love yourselves, darlings.

Em xo

⇒ please note that while I would love to claim responsibility for the badassery of the feature image used in this post, I regret to inform you that it was not taken and is not owned by me. click here for original image. ⇐

 

Week 1

So today marks it – it’s officially been one week since I left home and so far things are going better than I could have asked for. The sun is shining today, I’ve got my laundry out on the line and after this weekend, it’s back to the 9-5. I’ve enjoyed my time off but I am looking forward to getting back to work and having a regular routine.

I was fortunate enough to be able to go out for dinner with everyone I’ll be working with last night. Of course, everyone was delightful and it definitely alleviated the pressure of walking in on Monday and being the brand new face in a company I’ve been working for for the better part of a decade. (I can’t tell you how strange that feeling is for me.) I’m so grateful to have had that opportunity – it was a really nice night with my new colleagues. I already feel very welcomed.

So to sum up my first week away from home? It’s been strange, but it’s been great. No regrets, no looking back. The people have been wonderful, only one person has asked me if I’m from the States (Alabama, to be exact) and I found a better Chai Tea Latte then Starbucks. (YOU ARE JUST AS SHOCKED AS I AM. Thank YOU, Cafe Nero.)

I am exactly where I need to be right now. And I am so, so grateful.

Love yourselves, darlings.

Em xo

⇒ please note that while I would love to claim responsibility for the badassery of the feature image used in this post, I regret to inform you that it was not taken and is not owned by me. click here for original image. ⇐