Taking stock of what I have and what I haven’t what do I find?


“Taking stock of what I have and what I haven’t
What do I find?
The things I got will keep me satisfied
Checking up on what I have and what I haven’t
What do I find?
A healthy balance on the credit side
Got no diamond
Got no pearl
Still I think I’m a lucky girl
I got the sun in the morning and the moon at night
I got the sun in the morning and the moon at night
Got no mansion
Got no yacht
Still I’m happy with what I got
I got the sun in the morning and the moon at night
I got the sun in the morning and the moon at night
Sunshine 
Gives me a lovely day
Moonlight 
Gives me the Milky Way
Got no checkbooks
Got no banks
Still I’d like to express my thanks
I got the sun in the morning and the moon at night
I got the sun in the morning and the moon at night
And with the sun in the morning 
And the moon in the evening
I’m all right”

I Got the Sun in the Morning – Irving Berlin

 

It’s the last couple of days in Asia before heading off to Australia and so it’s time to take stock a little.

I’ve been to 5 countries, 2 of them only very briefly, taken thousands of photos, eaten tasty food, been to waterfalls, museums,temples and churches (so far I’ve covered lots of Buddhist, Taoist, Catholic and Protestant Churches, Hindu and been outside a couple of Mosques) grave sites, learned to dive, been caving, visited a school, stumbled upon a photography festival and a national protest, met an actor, had massages and pedicures (and one failed manicure), avoided being sick on boats, buses, trains and planes, not been sun burnt (quite an achievement I can tell you) met some lovely people and only a few who were dicks.

I’ve also ticked some more off the cities list.

 

Australia and New Zealand will be a different experience because for the most part I’ll be with people I know and I’ll also get to go to some music festivals, and I do love taking photos of musicians at work.  I might even get to do some singing too!

Lonely Planet Top 200 Cities

001 Paris, France  
002 New York City, USA
003 Sydney, Australia
004 Barcelona, Spain 
005 London, England 
006 Rome, Italy
007 San Francisco, USA
008 Bangkok, Thailand
009 Cape Town, South Africa
010 Istanbul, Turkey
011 Melbourne, Australia
012 Hong Kong, China
013 Kathmandu, Nepal
014 Prague, Czech Republic (2013) 
015 Vancouver, Canada
016 Buenos Aires, Argentina
017 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
018 Berlin, Germany
019 Jerusalem, Israel & the Palestinian Territories
020 Montreal, Canada
021 Edinburgh, Scotland
022 Venice, Italy
023 Hanoi, Vietnam
024 Amsterdam, The Netherlands
025 Singapore, Singapore

026 Tokyo, Japan
027 Florence, Italy
028 Dublin, Ireland 
029 Mexico City, Mexico
030 Krakow, Poland
031 Toronto, Canada
032 Cairo, Egypt
033 Budapest, Hungary 
034 Chicago, USA
035 Havana, Cuba
036 Madrid, Spain  
037 Munich, Germany
038 Athens, Greece
039 New Orleans, USA
040 Vienna, Austria
041 Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
042 Marrakesh, Morocco
043 Sarajevo, Bosnia & Hercegovina
044 Seville, Spain
045 Kyoto, Japan
046 Las Vegas, USA
047 Perth, Australia
048 Shanghai, China
049 Los Angeles, USA
050 Lisbon, Portugal

051 Stockholm, Sweden
052 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
053 Damascus, Syria
054 Luang Prabang, Laos
055 Seattle, USA
056 Phnom Penh, Cambodia
057 St.Petersburg, Russia
058 Cuzco, Peru
059 Dubrovnik, Croatia
060 Delhi, India
061 Moscow, Russia
062 Salvador da Bahia, Brazil
063 Beijing, China
064 Helsinki, Finland
065 Kolkata (formerly Calcutta), India
066 Santiago de Chile, Chile
067 Fes, Morocco
068 Auckland, New Zealand
069 Manila, Philippines
070 Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
071 Chiang Mai, Thailand
072 Varanasi, India
073 Cartagena, Colombia
074 Zanzibar Town, Tanzania 
075 Innsbruck, Austria

076 York, England 
077 Mumbai, India
078 Hamburg, Germany
079 Oaxaca City, Mexico
080 Galway, Ireland
081 Siena, Italy
082 Esfahan, Iran
083 Wellington, New Zealand
084 Ljubljana, Slovenia
085 Seoul, South Korea
086 San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico
087 Taipei, Taiwan
088 Tallinn, Estonia
089 Lhasa, Tibet
090 Bled, Slovenia
091 Hobart, Australia
092 Jaipur, India
093 Brussels, Belgium
094 La Paz, Bolivia
095 Quebec City, Canada
096 Valparaiso, Chile
097 Naples, Italy
098 Memphis, USA
099 Heidelberg, Germany
100 Dhaka, Bangladesh

101 Amman, Jordan
102 Monaco, Monaco
103 Washington DC, USA
104 Quito, Ecuador
105 Christchurch, New Zealand
106 Glasgow, Scotland
107 Muscat, Oman
108 Panama City, Panama
109 Dakar, Senegal
110 Bratislava, Slovakia
111 San Sebastian, Spain
112 Bern, Switzerland
113 San Juan, Puerto Rico
114 Aleppo (Halab), Syria
115 Dubai, United Arab Emirates
116 Riga, Latvia
117 Asmara, Eritrea
118 Kabul, Afghanistan
119 Bath, England
120 Copenhagen, Denmark
121 Macau, China
122 Sofia, Bulgaria
123 Hoi An, Vietnam
124 Marseille, France
125 Zagreb, Croatia

126 Manchester, England 
127 Antigua, Guatemala
128 Reykjavik, Iceland
129 Yogyakarta, Indonesia
130 Carcassonne, France
131 Lubeck, Germany
132 Tel Aviv, Israel
133 Hiroshima, Japan
134 Mendoza, Argentina
135 Nairobi, Kenya
136 Beirut, Lebanon
137 Vilnius, Lithuania
138 Montevideo, Uruguay
139 Yangon, Myanmar (Burma)
140 Arequipa, Peru
141 Bucharest, Romania
142 Apia, Samoa
143 Belgrade, Serbia & Montenegro
144 Dar es Salaam, Tanzania 
145 Kyiv, Ukraine
146 Bukhara, Uzbekistan
147 Male’, The Maldives
148 Caracas, Venezuela
149 Tirana, Albania
150 Suva, Fiji

151 Tiblisi, Georgia
152 Agadez, Niger
153 Ushuaia, Argentina
154 Kampala, Uganda
155 Bogota, Colombia
156 Bridgetown, Barbados
157 Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
158 Abuja, Nigeria
159 Christiansted, US Virgin Islands
160 San’a, Yemen
161 Livingstone, Zambia
162 Alexandria, Egypt
163 Belfast, Northern Ireland
164 Savannah, USA
165 Nuuk, Greenland
166 Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
167 Johannesburg, South Africa
168 Kairouan, Tunisia
169 Austin, USA
170 San Salvador, El Salvador
171 Cardiff, Wales
172 Minsk, Belarus
173 Thimphu, Bhutan
174 Khartoum, Sudan
175 Anchorage, USA

176 Mecca, Saudi Arabia
177 Aswan, Egypt
178 Yerevan, Armenia
179 Luxembourg City, Luxembourg
180 Georgetown, Malaysia
181 Maputo, Mozambique
182 Baku, Azerbaijan
183 Belize City, Belize
184 Essaouira, Morocco
185 Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
186 Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
187 Pyongyang, North Korea
188 Lahore, Pakistan
189 Cayenne, French Guiana
190 Almaty, Kazakhstan
191 Mombasa, Kenya
192 Valletta, Malta
193 Antananarivo, Madagascar
194 Miami, USA
195 Bamako, Mali
196 Saint-Denis, Reunion
197 Granada, Spain
198 Beira, Mozambique
199 Madang, Papua New Guinea
200 Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

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And I’m standing on a platform,


…and now I’m staring from a plane. 

And all the trees roll back beside but I’m so oblivious
To the dark, to the light, it’s all the same


And it makes me fly

 

Apologies to The Sundays

 

Well I’m nearly off.  Was a bit stressed this morning heading to the airport.  I’ve realised I’m wearing almost exactly the same clothes as I did to fly to Tanzania, but this time I’m on my own.  And they’re calling me to board….

The 12 days of England


I have 12 days until I leave again for 7 months. 12 days!! How did that happen?  It feels like I’ve barely just returned from Mwanza and off I go again.

 

In the next 12 days I have to:

  • pack up my stuff and move it from my brother’s to my mum’s house

  • finalize the packing of my backpack

  • get my booster jab – went the other day, it was the wrong day, tomorrow is the right day

  • cancel my unused swimming pool membership

  • sort out the pre-pay debit card top up

  • plan where I’m going after Bangkok

  • baby sit my niece and nephew – get them to watch Toy Story – sorted

  • have my best friend from university visit

  • possibly go to see Coriolanus live at the cinema

  • Continue reading

Let’s get it started…


I’ve now realised a bit more that in a month I’ll be in Bangkok and as of yet I’ve booked no accomodation for any of my trip and I should really get on and do stuff like, you know, get a backpack and visas and things.

Unfortunately, or fortunately in terms of funding, I’m doing lots of overtime at the moment and so have about 8 days off before I go and 3 of them are taken up with travelling to my fake 30th birthday in Newcastle (more on that next week), one is going to be busy having the doctor’s appointment for malaria pills (had all my jabs for Tanzania, should probably get Japanese Encephalitis vaccine but not sure I can before I go) and getting my hair dyed for my birthday party and one more is going to London to watch a Sondheim show, and possibly the Tori Amos musical. 

Continue reading

Hello new readers…


Hello to any of you who are visiting and reading for the first time, lovely of you to stop by, and welcome back those that have been here before. 

 

Have a look through the old posts if you like, please feel free to share the link, comment, give me ideas of where I should go to for my trip, particularly in the US, SE Asia, New Zealand or Fiji. Let me know if you would like me to pop by on the trip.  I caan make you a good meal if you can give me a sofa or spare bed to sleep on! I’m very open to people’s ideas and suggestions and I’ll be updating here as things develop.

 

Ellie

 

http://www.twitter.com/serenceinwyn

There must be more than this provincial life…


“Little town, it’s a quiet village.

Ev’ry day like the one before…”

Well not exactly the same everyday, but it seems to feel that way a the moment.  I feel like I’m in limbo still, living in the village I was born in, working in the town I grew up in.  I’m doing extra hours as someone left and they’re yet to replace him, so that’s good because otherwise I would probably be spending my days off sitting in bed in my pajamas watching ER or Grey’s Anatomy and eating chocolate.  And frankly that’s not going to do anyone any good now is it?  Nope, better that I go to work, read books (in my lunch break), put stuff away, find books for people, chat too people and help children make things.  And it is a lovely job.  I like libraries, I like talking to people and helping out with things, but there’s only so much time you can spend living with your brother and his girlfriend before you feel like you are very much imposing.

‘Look there she goes that girl is strange, no question

Dazed and distracted, can’t you tell?

Never part of any crowd ’cause her head’s up on some cloud

No denying she’s a funny girl that El (sic)

Look there she goes that girl is so peculiar

I wonder if she’s feeling well

With a dreamy far off look, and her nose stuck in a book

What a puzzle to the rest of us is El (sic)

Continue reading

Empty chairs at empty tables


Today is my last (half) day at school.  The work has come down from the walls, the trays are emptied, the bags gone from the hooks outside the classroom.  I’m counting up pencils, pens, folders, rulers and writing notes on the children for the next teacher, next year.

I’m taking back ribbons and crepe paper to the store room, adding up house points and finding things once lost behind dusty cupboards.

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Limbo


I’ve started my anti-malarials.  So far, no side effects, which is good, but they are likely to make me feel nauseous, more sensitive to the sun and all sorts of other fun things.  So essentially I’m moving to the sun and taking medication that will turn me into a vampire. 

I’ve nearly packed – two suitcases of clothes, books, toiletries, dvds, shoes, staplers, staples, snap cards, hand blender, etc. and one more to fill with vitamin tablets, sunblock, stationary and pictures.  Little gifts that have come from my chims at work – Hello! – are going in there too.  I think I may have to repack some clothes to pad it out a little and take some of the rattling about out of it.

We’re leaving at 12 tomorrow for my 19.20 flight, better to be there waiting than in a queue on the M25 waiting.  Not sure how my mum is doing with all this going on, she’s storing all my stuff and driving me down, but my little brother is already trying to claim the dvd collection. Git. He’ll soon find that I’m actually taking all the good ones with me and leaving the empty cases for him to cry over.

It’s been less stressful, the irritating ex *finally* gave me some money today, so that’s my US dollars sorted.  Family members have also donated some so I now have a waterproof jacket, batteries for my torch for when the power cuts out and 6 bottles of sunblock.  Ta very much to them.

Not sure how I’m feeling about things at the moment, I think I just need things to be done now.  I’ve visited people, but not enough of them, I’m missing a festival that I’ve been going to since I picked up my GCSE results 12 years ago – Towersey Village Festival if you’re interested, it’s good, go next year if you can – and I’m feeling like I’m in limbo.

The next one of these I’ll write I’ll probably be sunburnt. I’ve got some Aloe Vera so don’t worry.

One week.


There are things that I really hate doing sometimes. I hate washing up if it’s hot outside. I hate running. I hate feeling like I’m not in control. I hate having to walk dogs – it really stresses me out after a bad experience when I was little, I hate writing job applications. And I really hate asking people for money that they owe me. I’m now in my last week in England for a while and I still have lots to do. I’ve got a shopping list of about 20 things I still need to get but I’m running low on cash.

My ex boyfriend has had plenty of warning of when I would need the money by and he’s been off work (his choice, not sickness) and so hasn’t really got it to give to me. I’m getting paid a little from my old job, but not until I’ve gone. I’m getting some money from the school, but not until I’m there. I don’t want to borrow more money from friends or family that I’m not going to be in a position to pay back for a while when he knew he had to get this money to me.

It’s making my last week really stressful. I’ve got family to visit, packing to do. I’m not sure if I’ve got to much stuff for my weight allowance, I’m coming to terms with the idea that I’ve seen my grandmother for the last time (she’s 99 and ¾, so that’s not just being pessimistic, it’s a very strong likelihood), that I’m going to miss a big chunk of my nieces’ and nephews’ lives, that my dad needs more support than he is willing to admit and I’m leaving my siblings to sort that out without me, that I may not have the opportunity to go to my best friend’s wedding, that I’m heading to somewhere that is completely alien with no one I know and now I feel guilty because I’ve told my ex boyfriend’s mum that he owes me lots of money and would she be able to help out?

I know that he’s been trying to pay me the money and he has given me some of it, but I had budgeted for him giving me the rest, as he said he would. And now that’s gone wrong and I’m not in control of what I need to be. As I mentioned before I hate that. His mum is probably going to help out and then I don’t have to worry about it any more, but I still feel guilty, like I’ve betrayed him by telling her.

I also feel guilty that I’m storing lots of stuff at my mum’s house and so it’s a bit chaotic for her at the moment. I know she doesn’t really mind too much and she now has access to a substantial DVD collection, but when you move 9 years of your life into boxes in cupboards, you can’t help but feel that you are infringing on someone else’s life.

There have been some positives in this past week – I’ve spent time with one neice and nephew and am going to see the others on Tuesday, I’ve had a good day with the ancient grandmother – she recognised me, looked highly irritated when I suggested she was 120, told her everybody’s news and she told me she loved me before I left. I’ve started the ball rolling for the support for dad (with the help of some of his very lovely friends) and he’s already sounding better than he did before and apparently feeling so. I’ve spent a lovely day with the best friend who I’ve not seen for a stupid amount of time and it was like no time has passed. I’ve even given her some centre piece ideas for the wedding and have called upon a standby date for the wedding in case I can get back over for it. I’ve been to my little brother’s housewarming bbq, made some chocolate orange brownies, seen a shooting star and looked after some chickens. I’ve also been in touch with three of the other teachers who will be in Tanzania with me, so hopefully that will ease the way.

Next week I’ll see more relatives, hopefully some school friends and finish packing. Then seven days from now, I’ll be heading to Heathrow, freaking out a fair bit no doubt, taking travel sickness tablets and wondering what on earth I’ve let myself in for.

Something’s Coming.


Something’s coming.

It’s my last Friday in my current job, we are having a paper aeroplane contest in honour of the Olympics and I have built a cracker.  Preliminary tests showed it to be a good flyer, with a slight tendency to curve to the left after about 12 feet.  Since the initial testing phase I have given it a decorative all blue Union Jack design, but I think this may have compromised the aerodynamics a little.

I’m feeling a little bit odd at the moment.  I had a health scare earlier in the year and yesterday went for my 6 month check up.  Although they said everything looked fine there were a couple areas they biopsied to be sure, since I’m going away.  I’m not too bothered about that to be honest, I’m sure it’s all fine but it’s just another thing to add to the list of current unknowns.  For example, I know I’m being booked 3 suitcases for my flight but I don’t know anything about the size of bags or total weight I’m allowed, whether one of those counts as hand luggage.  I know I need a visa to travel, but I don’t know how to get this yet.  I know that my ex boyfriend owes me a fair amount of money that would cover a lot of things, like my anti-malarial tablets, but I don’t know if he’s going to pay me any time soon.  I know that I need to finish packing, but I don’t know when I’m going to get the motivation to do that.  Actually, that’s not entirely true.  I’ve got a day off tomorrow, Sunday morning and a whole day on Wednesday, but I do have a lot of stuff and I’m not sure that I want to keep it all.

The unknown that is going to be revealed soon enough is my surprise leaving party – yes I know you’re probably thinking that it’s not a surprise if I know it’s happening, but other than the fact that I’m getting collected at 7.15 this evening and delivered to the venue, I don’t know much else.  I’ve bought some fake nails to try out (mine are bitten down to an almost embarrassing length, a habit I’m yet to break even after that rank tasting nail varnish that’s meant to put you off – I started biting the skin around the nails instead and so thought the nails were the lesser of two evils at that point.)  Never had fake nails before or nails of a normal length so it might be a bit odd. Still, thought I should make an effort as people are making an effort for a party for me.  I know 6 people are going.  Hopefully we can push it to 10!

I think the oddest thing is that I’m starting to feel the same way I did this time 9 years ago – I’d been accepted on the Newcastle University Folk Degree roughly a month before and it had suddenly dawned on me that I was leaving the home I had lived in for 16 years and the area that I’d lived in all my life.  It wasn’t happening the way I’d planned, I was planning on working for another year, then travelling for a year before heading off to university, but then circumstances changed – I’ll leave that story for now in case I need to get £500 for my story from a weekly woman’s magazine – and suddenly I was heading north.

It wasn’t the thought of leaving my family all those years ago, but more the fear of being found to be a fraud.  I’d had a good group of close friends at school and had been friends with quite a few others in different groups, but somehow I always felt like I was on the outside looking in.  Also, I was joining a course for a type of music I loved, but didn’t really know a lot about.  What if I was laughed off the course? What if I didn’t make any friends?  I’ve got the same concerns now I suppose.  I’ve been out of the classroom for a while and although I know I’ll be good at the job, it’s big thing to start with a new class, in a new school, a week after I arrive in the country 4500miles (ish) from home? I’m sharing with someone new – my 17th flatmate in 9 years – what if we don’t get on?  What if the school decides after a term that they’ve made a horrendous mistake and send me home?

I know that these worries are probably unfounded but as I spend 6 more days in my adopted city I can’t help but ahve them playing on my mind.

Still, loads of entertaining things have happened in the last few weeks, won the pub quiz twice, been to Olympic football matches – Mexico vs. South Korea, Gabon vs. Switzerland – seen an amazing production of Julius Ceasar by the RSC, developed a crush on Tim Roth (don’t judge), been given a lock by a stranger so that I ‘don’t get the AIDS’, been to see the Dark Knight Rises, been to see my friend perfoming at a local gig – Kate Edwards, look her up, you’ll be impressed – watched lots of sports on the TV and soon I’ll be off to the ball.  Or something. And I bought a hat.

Wide Open Spaces


Sometimes in my current job we have a bit of quiet time and have to entertain ourselves with questions and games. 

A recent question that was set was ‘What song would you use to sum up your life or personality?’  Most people struggled to think of one, but mine sprung to mind straight away.  I’ll post the lyrics below:

Taking the Long Way Around
 
My friends from high school married their high school boyfriends.
Moved into houses in the same ZIP codes where their parents live
But I, I could never follow. No I, I could never follow.
I hit the highway in a pink RV with stars on the ceiling.
Lived like a gypsy, six strong hands on the steering wheel.
I’ve been a long time gone now maybe someday, someday I’m gonna settle down
But I’ve always found my way somehow
By takin’ the long way. Takin’ the long way around.
 
I met the queen of whatever, drank with the Irish and smoked with the hippies.
Moved with the shakers, wouldn’t kiss all the asses that they told me to
No I, I could never follow.  No I, I could never follow.
It’s been two long years now since the top of the world came crashing down
And I’m getting’ it back on the road now
But I’m takin’ the long way, takin’ the long way around.
 
Well I fought with a stranger and I met myself
I opened my mouth and I heard myself
It can get pretty lonely when you show yourself
Guess I could have made it easier on myself
But I, I could never follow. No I, I could never follow
Well I never seem to do it like anybody else maybe someday, someday I’m gonna settle down
If you ever want to find me I can still be found
Takin’ the long way, takin’ the long way around
 
The Dixie Chicks
 
 
When I first heard this song it reminded me of a conversation I had in a pub with my best friend from school in 2004.
I was 20 and had gone home for Easter.  I’d met up with Clare and other friends and we were discussing what we wanted from our lives.  I had a plan (as people tend to do at 20ish) of what the next ten years would probably bring.  I would be 23 by the time I finished my degree, I would work and take a part time Masters in Music and Education, train as a primary teacher, work for a few years and hopefully start having kids at about 30. 
Clare baulked at this idea, saying 30 was pretty old to start having kids, she wanted one as soon as possible.  My mum had me at 30, although her first child was when she was 21 and the 5th at 34, so 30ish seemed a good time to get going.  We were at different stages in our lives – Clare had been working since she left school, was settled with her boyfriend and either had just, or was just about to, buy a flat.  I was part way through my first year of university and had almost had a relationship with someone who liked to dress as an elf.
 
Eight years on from that night in the pub and Clare has a lovely little boy, has been married to that boyfriend for about 6 years and is still very settled.  I finished the folk degree, started the masters, dropped out because I didn’t get a job I was relying on.  So I ended up working in a homeless hostel for two years before finding the careers advice job. So I’m still no closer to having kids unless someone hands them to me, but I’ve mostly achieved what I set out to do.  Still taking the long way but sometimes that can be a bit more interesting I guess.
 
What would your song be?

How did we get there from here.


This year has been somewhat of a trial.  I qualified as a teacher last June and although I applied for a few full time teaching positions I wasn’t keen to take one on immediately.  The PGCE has been one of the most difficult years of my life – as I’d been warned – but this hadn’t been helped by having a turbulent personal life.  I probably should have taken the hint when I was dumped on my first day at university, but after a few weeks we worked things out knowing that things weren’t going to last forever.  I’d found out that I’d been cheated on, I lived 250 miles away from my family, most of my university friends had moved away and I’d drifted out of touch with others because of three years of anti-social shift work.

I spent 9 months getting up at 6am, going to university or school, working solidly until 10pm, letting myself watch a couple of TV shows and then off to bed at midnight.  I worked nearly every weekend and holiday between September and June.  My boyfriend was by no means perfect but was someone who I could mostly rely on to keep me going.  By the time I came round to applying for jobs I was burnt out and unhappy at home.  I’m not saying any of this because I want to portray myself as a martyr, many others were in the same boat with difficult circumstances, but just to give a sense that it’s an exhausting thing to do.  Grey’s Anatomy and Community were my lifelines and may well continue to be.

Luckily, during that time I did have my part time job as a careers adviser that kept me in touch with other people, gave me an escape from the simmering tensions at home and gave me some spending money.  After a couple of unsuccessful interviews I decided to sign up for teaching agencies and stay with my current job until a teaching position came up.  When September came there was not a lot of supply so I opted to go full time again with the careers advice. 

By December I’d still not had any supply work and I’d come to the realisation that my relationship was pretty much over after nearly 3 years.  It was something that I’d known for a long time, but hadn’t been brave enough to voice, mainly because I didn’t think I could manage financially without his support and also because I’ve never been on my own before.  I’m 28, I’m the third of five children and in the last 9 years since starting my first degree I’ve lived with 16 people.  I’m not really used to my own company. 

Making the decision to end things was actually quite liberating.  Although we continued living together in a one bedroom flat for about 6 months, he’s been on a lot of night shifts so I’ve had more time to myself. Had I not spent the last couple of years mostly being miserable then I probably wouldn’t have developed the confidence to apply outside the UK.  I probably also wouldn’t have discovered that the lyrics to the Umbongo song fit pretty well to the tune of Rolling in the Deep (try it) or remembered that my Heather Small impression isn’t too bad.