Month: January 2012

Everything Must Go!

I am finally beginning to get EXCITED about moving! We are so wretchedly broke that it’s hard to stay positive sometimes and all the “we’re going to Canada” euphoria gets buried under the “how the hell are we going to afford this?” type paranoia. I am Stressed and Anxious, it’s Official, and I have definitely been losing a lot of sleep over it all. Also, my PhD is finally out of the way!!! I still have some corrections to do, but I survived the Viva (which wasn’t nearly as horrible as I’d feared) and I can more or less get away with using the title “Dr” now! But now that it is dealt with, I just want to get on with moving; the PhD was the last thing tying me to this place. Now, I should be FREE! If only moving was also free!

On the upside, I’ve had a few lovely, helpful and very encouraging emails from 13th Avenue, and Service Canada assure them the dratted new LMO should appear by 24th Feb. A little later than we’d hoped, (and there is still the chance that they will reject me, in which case I will cry, and then possibly go on a killing spree…) but giving me another month does allow more time for General Panics. They also suggested a flat for Miri and I, which isn’t a definite yet so it will remain under wraps for now for fear of jinxing it. But it would be lovely to get that place! That bit is definitely exciting!

I am trying my best to Be Enterprising and sell as much stuff as I can. Not only do we desperately need the money, we also need to get rid of as much stuff out of our house as possible. We *finally* had someone viewing the house the other day, so we are all crossing digits that something comes of it. The bloke was an investor-buyer, looking to buy up houses then rent them out again. He seemed friendly enough but only had the briefest look at the house, so I don’t really know what to make of it. I won’t hold my breath…

I have been running “Bel’s Curiosity Shop” on Ebay.

I am not a massive fan of Ebay because the fees are nothing less than extortionate (listing fee, plus 10% final value fee, plus paypal fees…) and the whole thing is so skewed in favour of the buyer that idiots can scam the sellers so easily, and get away with it. However, having a virtual shop alleviates at least some of the fees, and so far I have only had one Idiot in the past 20 sales. The shop has got a load of general stuff from our house, some of my clothes, books (I HATE parting with books!!), treasures we have unearthed from the garage and most recently, some Cyberllama stuff I’d forgotten we had. In 2005 I started a little online business called Cyberllama, where I imported alpaca wool clothes, lovely silver jewelery and giftware from Peru all via my adopted family out there. Direct trade in action! I did craft fairs and markets with all my stuff as well as selling online, and everything was generally Llama-related for a year or so. Sadly, it wasn’t successful enough to warrant turning down another good job offer so I ceased trading. However, having finally dared to go into the loft for the first time in ages, I discovered some stock I had no idea I still had. So, once more it is available online! If you fancy any genuine Peruvian alpaca wool clothes – and I dare say it’ll be very handy for Canadian temperatures – then please have a browse of my shop!

My UglyCakes have taken on a life of their own as well. I’ve even made a whole £10 from sales of my book! They now have their own Facebook Page and a Google+ page and I’ve been doing a few orders outside of the cafe too, just birthdays and stuff. The UglyCakes are coming with me to Regina!! Hope to be baking a few for 13th Avenue and for Roca Jacks too if Tamara still wants them. Last week I did a savoury birthday cake – chilli-cheese corn bread with red pepper jelly. This week I’m working on a giant jammy dodger, and even better, a ‘Valentines’ giant jaffacake!

Yesterday, we held a stall at a local Baby Fair, trying to sell a load of Miranda’s stuff that she is now too big for. We did fairly well, shifted a lot of her clothes which I honestly didn’t expect to sell, but unfortunately we didn’t get rid of big things like her high chair and baby bouncer which take up a lot of room in our house! And of course, with Miri with us, we couldn’t leave empty-handed either. Considering she was in a huge room with loads and loads of toys and other children, she was remarkably well behaved. So we treated her to a 50p Upsy Daisy and a Ninky Nonk  from In The Night Garden. I still do not understand her fascination with that show, but it makes her so happy!

The Baby Fair:

Our Stall
It was pretty busy!
More Stuff
Happy Miri!

Finally, it was time to say Bye Bye to my beloved Betty. That is, Betty the Pink Bike. I haven’t actually taken her out for ages because, erm, I kinda replaced her with Twyla the Trike, but I was very fond of her for a long while! She has a new home with the lovely Tallulah and Mylo, and I am told she will remain her cheery, ironic hot pink paint job.

Betty the Bike in all her Pink glory

So, the proceeds from all of this, so far, have yielded enough pennies in the Get Us To Regina fund (GUTR for short, all our money is going in the gutr) to pay for our work permits and Miranda’s flight fee. Oh and I’ve paid my phone bill out of it too….This is all good. We WILL get there!!!!

Miranda has even been practicing making coffee! We got her a little toy coffee machine for Christmas, and she loves it! She knows exactly what to do to make plastic espresso, (the machine makes all the right noises and plastic milk foam even pops up in the cup!). I guess she has watched Mummy do it every day for virtually her entire life… It makes me so proud!! Of course, she will probably rebel later and never touch coffee ever again by the time she’s a teenager, but for now she is my perfect little barista who’s soon to become a pseudo-Canadian!

Expertly textured plastic latte!
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A response! Of sorts….

A few posts back I wrote a disgusted letter to Our Glorious Leader, Mr Cameron about the total lack of support I’ve received when I really need it. A lot of you commented, so I thought I’d update you!

I got a response! Doesn’t say anything remotely useful of course, but I liked getting a letter from Downing Street, they bothered paying for a stamp, AND it was addressed to “Dr Townsend”. YAY!

The letter fobbing me off...

Family and Friends

At the weekend we had a massive “Whoops-we-forgot-new-year-and-now-we’re-emigrating” style sauna party.  Everyone turned up in all manner of inventive, elaborate costumes (I was a Mountie – it was that or a beaver, and that is just asking for trouble!). We had Batman and Ironman show up, a very tall ‘french maid’, the Devil, Superman, a Superman-dominating Vampire, Nick Fury, a writer-pirate, two “proper Pirates”, the governor of Melee island, Michelle in a full Masqerade gown, rockabilly Ange, Arthur Dent, a nurse and Tigger. And a brilliant and drunken night was had by all.

What took a long and painful time to dawn on me the next day though, was that Saturday night was the last Epic Sauna party we are likely to have!!! That was possibly the last time I will see some of my friends until we are settled in Canada and they come and visit. That is a very sad thought. As such, this blog post is dedicated to all my loony, lovely friends. I will miss you all immensely.

Some friends have suffered far too many years at university with me, and give me hope that there is Life Beyond the PhD:

Dr Death herself, Hannah

Then there is The Chapmen, a numerous clan of very creative tattooed Geeks:

"Writer Pirate" Chris
The annual gurning competition with Rachel

In other areas of Darlington, I found these critters:

“The original teenage layabout” – Grem
The one and only Grarr
She who was once "Not-Bel". Ahem. Rachel N 🙂

And down in Sheffield I met some new friends and rediscovered an old one:

Anna, otherwise known as AK47
Ol: my dearest Boogle

There are some friends I’ve grown up with:

Fellow Highworthian and friend for 19 years, Caroline

And some I’ve met on route;  my coffee obsession and Spanish “skills” would not be the same if it weren’t for my ginger, Glaswegian partner-in-crime:

La Andie - mi chica loquita

I have an extended and very interesting family, too:

Very Daft Not Quite Cousins, Marc and Amy

And speaking of which, I am really, really going to miss all the idiocies of Whitby Goth Weekend, and all the associated gothy gaggle. Here’s just some of our stunning outfits:

During the near-fatal hangover on Sunday, I had to say fond farewells to these two, and that was perhaps the hardest because they are not the sort I can just drop in on in the evenings. Hilary and I have been best friends since we met in 1993 and I cannot begin to list the insane schemes, projects, techie stints, geekisms, dramatic adventures, pastiches and emotional rollercoasters we’ve experienced together. For his part, D has always been my friend too, as opposed to “Hilzo’s boyfriend”, and he is equally legendary for equally daft if not always similar reasons.

D - its best not to ask
Piratical Hilzo - this year's Bel-and-Hils pic!

If, dear reader, you have spotted the conspicuous absence of Carl and Miranda – well, duh, I am not gonna miss them cos they ARE coming with me. Yus indeed.

However, the biggest wrench is going to be saying Bye Bye to my wonderful parents. I don’t doubt for a second that they will be out to visit us, but this last Christmas at their house – where they have even built a little grotto in the garden for Miranda – was very difficult to leave! We owe them both so much, emotionally and financially, that none of this insane Canada plan would have been possible without them. I hope they know how grateful we are, because everything is so stressful at the moment that I get choked up even thinking about it all and just disintegrate into a snotty incoherent mess when I try to talk to them. So, assuming you are reading: THANK YOU FOR EVERYTHING!!

I love you all and I will miss you all so, so much!

2011 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,900 times in 2011. If it were a cable car, it would take about 32 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Note from the editor: VERY interesting to see which was the top post, and even more telling was what people were searching for. The full report is well worth a look!