What do you know, 2 blog posts in one day – perhaps even more as I might have some time to catch up. This is because I have the time. I am currently on the train from Wilmslow (15 mins from home by car) and Cardiff, where I am presenting a course a little later on. It is going to be a very long day, with most of the day spent on the train in the most uncomfortably seats imaginable. The train is a small 2-coach train and is surprisingly full. I generally do enjoy train travel. You just don’t get that same ‘rushed’ feeling you get when flying or ‘road rage’ feeling you get in traffic jams when traveling by car. Let’s put on qualifier in there: it is much better 1st class when you don’t get off the train with backache. By the end of tonight I know I am going to really struggle. At least if the train isn’t full and you have 2 seats available, you can change positions and sprawl out a little, but that isn’t possible when it’s busy.

The scenery en route is rather beautiful. The route takes me through Shrewsbury and then through Wales. I almost wrote “unfortunately it is raining”, but then I realised that I quite like the green rolling hills, autumn shaded trees and white cottages in the very light rain. It looks right.

“This train is for Caerfyrddin / Carmarthan”. I just can’t get to grips with the Welsh language. I think foreigners don’t realise that Welsh is very much alive in much of Wales. It is taught as a 2nd language in schools and there are areas that are still very much predominately Welsh. In fact, I have had a request that I need to make some documents available in our Procurement system, in Welsh. We will talk about that today. The thing about Welsh is that it has many Afrikaans-sounding sounds. They have the rolling “r” and guttural “g”. The difference is that they have many many consonants. And so many of them together. When I see their words, I have no idea whatsoever of how to pronounce them. I don’t even have an the slightest idea where to start, so I just don’t!

I didn’t sleep very well last night. Whenever I know my alarm is set for earlier than usual, I suffer from some sort of anxiety that the alarm won’t go off, so I constantly wake up during the night. The result is, not only are you getting a bit less sleep than usual, but you have a broken night’s sleep which leaves you even more tired!

Tomorrow night is the 5th November (Remember, remember the 5th of November) which is bonfire night, or also known as Guy Fawkes night. Traditionally people get together, build a very big bonfire, and then the night culminates in a spectacular fireworks display. Normally we go to the one in Cheadle which is held on the weekend after the 5th November, but this year it clashes with Victoria’s (Tim’s niece) 18th birthday in London. Instead we’re joining our friend Tamsin, and some of her other friends. We will start off the evening with Bangers, and Beans at Tamsin’s before going across to Wythenshawe Park for a bonfire night arranged by Manchester City Council. Wythenshawe is a real dodgy area full of scallies (gomgatte in Afrikaans), but we’re going to attempt it without body guards. I shall just ensure that I am not wearing anything that makes me stick out in a crowd!

Last week we had the coldest weather ….

My battery is starting to flash …. I will need to recharge my little netbook once I get to Cardiff. Who knows I could finish the post on my way back – depending on how knackered I am!

Okay, I am now on my way back, computer virtually fully charged. My presentation went well, except for the fact that only 5 out of the 10 people turned up in the first place, 2 of whom were sick.

Let me continue where I left off: Last week we had the coldest weather. Our minimum temperature reached -3C. Those are the type of temperatures we would expect in deepest winter, perhaps in January or February, but certainly not in October. It snowed in many places in the UK, but alas! not in Manchester. I believe some places were even without electricity. According to the papers, it was the coldest it has been at that time of the year since 1935. I know they can clearly see the affects of global warming at the poles etc, but we can certainly not see the affects in Manchester. If anything it is getting colder rather than hotter!

During this time of extreme cold, I arrived at the station wearing a number of layers of clothes: long sleeved shirt, cashmere jumper and scarf (I have been converted – they are so lightweight, yet so very warm!), woollen coat, gloves etc. Coming toward me is the man that delivers the free newspapers. He was wearing: woollen hat, brightly coloured fleece, big heavy gloves …. and shorts! Figure that …

I must say, the lack of gas and electricity does worry me a little. None of our fireplaces are ‘working fireplaces’. The one in our lounge has been converted to a gas one (which incidentally is not working at the moment, but our builder who will normally fix it, is in Australia at the moment). But if we get stuck in a situation which leaves us without gas and electricity, we will really struggle to warm up. No fireplace, cooker is gas/electric, heating is gas, little manual heaters are electric. The only thing we would be able to do is make a fire outside on the weber braai (bbq), boil some water and fill my 2 hot water bottles. No, hang on, we have 3 hot water bottles. I don’t even own thermal underwear – something I lived in in South Africa. Usually it is so hot indoors that you die of the heat indoors if you’re wearing thermals. Let’s hope it doesn’t happen.

My train back is taking me through more beautiful scenery, but this time it is following a different route through Herefordshire, which borders Wales. I just wish they’d followed my instruction and booked me a seat on the train that faces forwards. I am facing backwards which makes me feel a bit sick.

Last night Tim and I were chatting, and during the conversation I said “she cried crocodile tears”.
“What do you mean by that?”, Tim asked. I was surprised that he wasn’t familiar with the phrase, which made me think that perhaps it was something South African. I told him that it meant ‘big tears’, but he thought it might mean something else. Please leave me a comment if you can shed some light on the topic.

We’re on the straight toward Christmas. I am not very fond of this time of the year – traffic is horrendous, the clocks have gone back so it is very dark and getting darker and darker towards Christmas, shopping becomes a nightmare (and it is already a nightmare before), people lose all sense and spend money they don’t have and cannot afford. And then lastly, November always ends up being so busy, because everyone thinks they ought to be doing something in November before it gets busy in December. All that means is that you end up being November AND December. This year is no different…. But at least this year Christmas should be at home. We have only ever spent Christmas at home once. But we are planning to keep in low-key. We will be looking after Lisa’s cats for a change, so we will be pretty local most of the time. So these are the plans:

Weekend before Christmas, meet up with Tim’s 2 Aunties in Warwickshire (I think that is where they are).
Christmas day – Tim and I at home. Not doing full-on Christmas food. Turkey isn’t my favourites and brussell sprouts shouldn’t even be classed as food, but rather as torture! Perhaps do a duck or roast chicken or something like that.
Boxing day – Tim’s mum, dad and sister coming for lunch. We will also be inviting his brother & family, but I would be surprised if they accept.
Other days – chill out

I normally get very depressed on Christmas day. It is probably the one day in the year that I miss my family more than all the other days put together. The darkness depresses me – we only have a few hours’ sunlight. And then TV is generally pretty dire. Not my idea of fun at all. This year I am going to try and drag Tim to a Carol Service somewhere. Not sure he will go, but I can try.

Life has been so busy. I have been trying to make time to meet up with friends, but I just never feel like I see enough of them. Now that I have been training and travelling around the country too, it puts even more pressure on my time. When I am training I can’t go out for lunch, which means I can only meet people after work. It is also a problem that all our friends aren’t friends of each other, so we can’t just invite a bunch of people over for a low-key evening. We have our periodic parties of course, but then we’re running around so much we don’t get time to spend together. Here is a sample of my schedule over the next 2 weeks:

Tomorrow (Wed 5th) – Meeting group of people I worked with for lunch and Bonfire night. Meeting Tamsin for dinner before it.
Thurs 6th – Catching up with Admin at home
Fri 7th – Night off with Tim
Sat 8th – Go to London (pick up Michael, Tim’s nephew en route from Luton airport)
Sun 9th – Victoria’s birthday party in London
Mon 10th – In London for training (hmmm – might just stay in London after the weekend). Will get home late
Tue 11th – Meet an Agent for lunch and might meet a friend for dinner
Wed 12th – Training all day, Optometrist in the evening
Thur 13th – Acupuncture in the evening
Fri 14th – Rugby – Sale Sharks
Sat 15th – Haircut, Nails (got to schedule these things in!) & friends coming over for dinner
Sun 16th – DAY OFF!!! Hurrah!!!!

Oh yes, something else interesting: I have enrolled for an art course which starts in January at the Lowry. They promise to teach you how to draw and paint. I am sure I will test their skills as a teacher, but I am really just doing it for fun. I love drawing and painting in spite of not being good at it. I find it to be a very good stress-reliever. And for some reason it has more street-cred than, for instance, knitting! Why is that?