House news

Do you remember me mentioning Mr Elliot the other day? Pondering on how he too had been stung in a love story gone wrong? Well he has put an offer in on our place which we’ve accepted, albeit not quite what we were hoping for but it’ll have to do as I can’t wait a minute longer.

Tomorrow, 9.30am, we’ll be viewing a property which we have already looked at time and time again on internet with the intention of buying it too!

Actually we already viewed it last October. It’s owned by a Chinese family who run a local take away and although they asked us to view at 10.30, the bedrooms still had sleeping teenagers in them which didn’t make for the best viewing – in fact we opted for another place back then which we lost shortly after to people in a position to move.

Now they have moved out which is marvellous as it allows us to see the place properly, opening cupboards, checking the windows and looking at the flat roof too. All things you can’t do while the owners are still there.

I am so excited I can’t concentrate today, on anything. I am already mentally decorating the place up, smashing down the odd unnecessary wall and ripping up old fashioned carpets to lay down wooden floors. Oh the fun!

As for the 100 foot garden, I have already constructed a small allotment  down the bottom close to the shed with loads of goodies. The patio needs a good scrub and I can ‘see’ the future flower beds gloriously lining the garden fences full of colour, texture and height.

So after a week of relax chez mum’s and all this excitement happening, I am bubbling over with energy and the will to get on and take on this first major challenge of the year, ticking off one of my ‘must’ do’s’ for 2010 as written on my lifeplan.

We’re into the fourth month of 2010, how are you getting on with accomplishing anything you set yourself on Jan 1st?

An insight to how men feel

broken heartMy latest house viewer, who incidentally has returned for a second viewing, is a man. He is begrudgingly selling his five bedroom detached house after the collapse of his marriage and the past three years of singledom.

That has got to be tough. Having worked for your dream house, obtained it and then only to have it all taken away.

He has been accompanied each time by his partner for a woman’s feel on the place and she is being very positive about our little pad. They’re not moving in together as they both have teenagers who will probably fly the nest one day, for work, university or who knows? Saving their final move for a few years down the line.

He’s a good-looking bloke who you instantly feel at ease with, he was quite jovial as he walked around the house for the first time, glancing in each room. It made me wonder what on earth had happened to his previous relationship? Why had it gone all wrong?

His concerns are majorly for his children which is very touching as although they will continue to live with their mother the 16 year old son will spend every other week with him and their daughter Hannah will visit every other weekend. He wanted to make sure the rooms would be big enough for them to be comfortable.

His budget has obviously been greatly reduced as he’s had to halve any proceeds from the sale of his property with his wife but as any bargain hunter he’s looking for the max.

Our third bedroom is a box room, you can get a single bed and a bedside table/tall cabinet by the side but not much else. Ample for a weekend stay and can be done up nicely to make it even more inviting but Leigh was worried as his daughter’s current room is 17 foot.

I mentioned the fact that Hannah would have a bigger room at her mum’s and the important thing was to spend time with him.

‘Don’t talk about her mum’ he replied with a gutted look in his eye.

Three years down the line and still choking on hearing her name mentioned is sad. I felt sorry for him but I shut my mouth before I stuck my foot in it any further and left his partner to carry on the convincing. I know that hurt and it takes time to heal.

As although in my case it was the man who cheated and I was devastated that is not always the case and this gentle man has been heart broken too.

Sometimes a hurt woman can proceed in life to class all men as evil. I know it took me a long time and many debates with Paul to believe in him and more than anything else trust him and his word. This was a clear sign to me that it’s not always the man who is the wrongdoer and there are many heartbroken men out there suffering just as much.

I hope he does buy my house. He’s second viewing another before he decides and I also hope he finds the happiness he deserves in the future, all this after two brief meetings.

It’s amazing how much we pick up on someone in the shortest space of time.

Outside my front door….

kitchen view

What awful weather we’re having! I wanted to go for a walk with the girls and take some shots to show you where we live but I stayed safe inside where it’s warm and cosy. This photo was taken from the kitchen window yesterday during a rare ray of sunlight.

Please note my Christmas Poinsettia still thriving on the window sill – first time EVER I’ve managed to keep one so long and my chicken from Key West which I have since seen in tourist shops dotted all over the UK and Europe!

sunset

As for outside, I see first of all the estate agents bill boards and then the magnolia tree in the centre, planted by the previous owners and just beginning to bud. I adore this tree and think it’s possibly my favourite, alongside a Weeping Willow oh and this one, a Walnut tree which I can see from the back windows, taken last summer when I spotted these fabulous colours in the sky.

St MIldreds

We live just outside London in North Kent so we’re surrounded by country parks and village pubs. We’re also only 50 mins from the seaside where we spend most of our weekends once the weather permits. Here’s a snap from last summer at the end of the day before packing up with one twin (Bessie) sliding out of the buggy! I love the way the tide turns so dramatically in this part of the world, leaving a hard surface to walk on.

big ben

And I couldn’t leave without a photo of London which is my favourite city in the world. A shot of Big ben taken a few years back now whilst taking my Italian friends on a tour.

These photos are for Tara’s The Gallery week 5 – Outside my front door, please go and have a look at the other entries which are fabulous.

Tara – I promise to sort out the badge by next week! – been a bit manic this week over here x

My Best Job of all time

The best job I ever had was with the people you can see here in the photo and it has to be said they are the loveliest people to work with.

This job was my lifeline out of Italy and back to the UK. It was the job where everything started to fall into place for me and for my life, at long last, to start going right and it was the job that restored the confidence in me that had been chiseled away over the years in Italy.

I moved from Italy on the 31st August 2004 and first day at work was 3rd August, the following Monday. A turn around that still today defeats all belief. How did I do that?

My role was in the Travel Trade Relations Department. I was to work alongside Diego (not in the photo but on holiday in Thailand at the time!) and it was our job to promote Italy with all of its beautiful destinations to the Travel companies that you bump into everyday with the hope they would put more and more destinations in their brochures for you to choose from. From Thomas Cook to lastminute.com, they all came under our umbrella.

In order to promote Italy to its best, we had to have contacts with the Italians of course and the tourist departments in every region would call us up with ideas to promote their corner of the peninsula. So you see it was our job to connect the two together, the regions would run workshops and invite members from various travel agencies to their homeland. They would organise flights, accommodation and entertainment and in the few days they hosted these new contacts they would show off their towns, resorts, museums and restaurants to the best of their abilities. Of course the best bit was frequently we were asked to go along too, in order to help with the hosting, the translation and the organising.

Have you had the pleasure of The Italian Experience? If you have you’ll agree it’s one you’ll never forget, if you haven’t make sure it’s on your list of ‘Things To Do Before I Die’. I promise you won’t regret it.

An amazingly open, friendly bunch of people, and they adore children making us look so stern sometimes. Their food, their ice cream, their wines, their art. I could go on forever, please go there and see for yourself.

I personally helped out on a trip to Rome another to Venice and my favourite a ski trip to Trentino where I had previously lived for so long. Not to mention all of the events organised in London, around the UK and Ireland.

I left the company as Paul and I wanted children and time was running out for me as 40 had been and gone. After losing a baby at 21 weeks of pregnancy and a succession of two more miscarriages, I opted to find a job closer to home so my body stood a better chance at getting pregnant and holding on to it.

I miss the job which brought the best out in me, I miss the buzz of working so close to Oxford Street with the flagship Topshop store just over the road but most of all I miss my wonderful colleagues. I’d give my right arm to go back tomorrow but this cannot be whilst my girls are so small and maybe wouldn’t be right. Things change, people move on. I could probably never recapture that time again so it remains a favourite memory with the badge of Best Job Ever.

If you have a quick mo, visit their web site which was one of the last projects I was working on before I left. Italian Tourist Board

This post was writen for Josie’s Writing Workshop I chose prompt 2 and am so pleased I have had a chance to remember these wonderful people in my blog. Writing workshopThanks Josie :)

Do you f=@k Paki’s?

It was my first evening out with the managers after work. I’d been really nervous about going along as I didn’t know if I’d be out of my depth but I wanted to impress and get to know my peers better after only one month that I’d been working with them. I thought it would be in my best interests and so pushed my nervous self on to meet them at the pub around the corner.

I was fresh out of college and working as a trainee manager in Wendy’s burger joint in London. Not the most glamorous start to my ‘would be glittering mega successful’ career but with my self-confidence just hovering over zero I didn’t believe I could go for the BIG jobs so I decided I’d start my career with something easy.

It was all very American. The uniform, the training book with easy to follow diagrams on how to make your special square Wendy burger, how to cut your iceberg lettuce to perfection ensuring maximum usage and everything from cleaning the floor to laying up the salad bar was written up in easy to follow directions in my training managers book. Each task got ticked off as they were covered and I was allowed to move on to the next exciting challenge.

I was still wearing my uniform of navy trousers and white shirt as I crossed the road feeling the butterflies whizz around in my tummy. The overall manager greeted me by name in his American accent and went back to his conversation with the other Big Cheeses sitting around him, I didn’t know what to do with myself and opted for the table with my store manager and a fellow trainee manager who’d been working there for a few months, Sandra.

I went into the bar and ordered half a pint copying Sandra’s choice of drink and came back out and stood around half listening to their chat about nothing. She was joking crudely with our manager who was Asian. They were getting increasingly ruder and I was smiling and laughing along as I didn’t have a clue what I was supposed to do and figured to go with the flow.

I promised myself I’d get to the end of my drink and politely leave as there was nothing in this for me. They were obviously on a different level to me and I wasn’t interested in joining in. Not that I’m a prude, I can hold myself with the best of them but I was uncomfortable.

The question came like a bullet out of nowhere as my attention had been on people watching whilst I sipped my beer in the late afternoon sun.

‘Do you fuck Paki’s? My manager was asking me with an intense, steady look in his eye.

It was just me and him. Sandra had turned round to talk to the Big Cheeses and I lost my tongue. What the hell was he asking me? Was he being serious? Was it part of a joke that I had missed?

I did one of those stilted disguised laughs that come out too loud and distorted to be real showing my immaturity and naivety. I so hoped he’d pass on to someone else and pick on them as I didn’t know how to reply.

‘Do you?’ he insisted. ‘Do you fuck Paki’s?’

He said it again. It was so obviously crude by choice of the ‘f’ word, he was out to frighten and belittle me putting me on the spot for reasons unknown to me.

‘No, I don’t’, I replied in a croaky voice that didn’t sound like mine the no resounding louder than I had intended.

I didn’t know. I mean, Do I? I had never been in a situation that could possibly lead to sex with anyone other than the guys I met at school or college and they were mainly white or black. The fact that he referred to himself as a Paki, also threw me, I mean it was an expression that I had been taught not to use ever and here he was using the word himself to refer to himself and to embarrass me.

What was he trying to prove? Why was he doing this to me?

Sandra butted back in the conversation and I downed the rest of my drink and said my goodbyes.

As I made my way to Oxford Circus tube station I felt confused. The enormity of the situation was only slowly starting to register. What had I done to deserve that?

This guy (I can’t remember his name) was married with two small children, his wife had come into the store one afternoon.  Had I given him the impression I was an easy lay? I don’t think so as he didn’t interest me in the slightest. Was he trying to pull me? Blimey crap technique! Or was he just being vicious, born with a huge chip on his shoulder and taking it out on me?

Millions of questions burning in my mind for hours after the event

Who knows? Fact is I handed in my notice shortly after unable to work with this man any more and the funniest thing is years later on a return visit from Italy, I was sitting on the tube minding my own business and as the train came into a station, I looked up to check where I was and noticed the man opposite staring at me.

Now I can’t be sure but I swear it was him but I held his stare. He looked away first and not one word was spoken. As I stepped off that train I knew I was in so much a better place than he was.