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Yes, yes, yes, I told you that while I was cutting back on my expenses and that I would never, never get rid of the cleaner. She is the hero of the hour and worth every penny and saved me nearly £200.

I’ve spent this week hunting high and low for my iPod – my days have been silent and sad without it. I was even planning a visit to the iPod shop today to buy a new one. To have to shell out for a another one is a bitter blow for the unemployed, and a lot of dosh, but it’s a handbag essential and I can’t live without it, so needs must.

I’ve spent many hours trying to work out where it could be. Hmmm, it must be somewhere. Back of the sofa? nope. Under the mattress? In a coat pocket? Check, check and recheck. I even rang around everywhere I have been over the last few days to beg and plead for the return of my 120GB friend.

So yesterday, I had a bright idea. My cleaner was coming to do her magic and I thought I would employ her organisational skills in my search.

‘I’ll give you £20 if you can find my iPod’
‘I’ll look for it, I’m very lucky you know. I found a passport for another client’
‘I’ve looked everywhere – I know I put it somewhere but I just can’t remember’
‘Ok, I will try.’
Oh yes, she’s going to find it I thought. While I busied myself shooing the plumber around the house and overseeing the instalment of my mock crock bar (yes it finally arrived!), I kept my fingers crossed.

I could hear the hoover, the taps going but no other sounds.
Finally, footsteps on the stairs, and she appeared brandishing my iPod like a prize.

‘Yippee! Thanks so much!’
‘It was in your room’
‘You’re kidding’
‘Yep, by your bed’
‘Never!’
‘The big wooden bowl?’
‘But I looked in there, it’s full of Miniminx’s stuff – I checked it twice’
‘Aha – it was under the big wooden bowl’
‘Thanks, I should have look underneath but I didn’t think of doing that’

ipod

Yes, I am undeniably superficial – I can only manage to look on the surface of things obviously – but who cares when £20 gets me back my beloved iPod and saves me shelling out for a new one.

So I happily hotfooted it to the cashpoint with Candi Staton as my soundtrack and felt euphoric. A very happy cleaner left my house too with a nice little bonus. And, reflecting on how much money I’d saved myself, I proceeded to download some must have albums from iTunes. And in my mind, they were all free!

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As I sat down to enjoy my beautifully prepared lunch yesterday, things took a drastic about turn. My cosy domestic bubble burst in the manner of a very large party balloon being pricked by a very large, sharp pin.

My mobile phone trilled, !NUMBER WITHHELD! flashed on the screen – Ok, better put my professional/together voice on!

‘Hi, can you talk? It’s me, how are you?’
‘Yes, sure I can talk, fabulous thanks and you?’
‘I’ve got something for you’
‘Great, what it is it?’
‘It’s a blah-di-blah-di-blah at blah-di-blah? Yeah? Interested?’
‘Wow that sounds great!’
‘Read the spec, I need to send your CV to them today, they want someone to start immediately’
‘Sure (choke on flapjack silently) I’ll have to you within the hour – I need to change it. I’m not sure it’s working – I’ve had my CV appraised and was told it would cost £350 to put right’
‘Yeah, that social media thing on it, no one gets it.’
‘OK, I’ll dump it’
‘Good idea – get it over, be quick’

And then three job specs came through on email. Three job opportunities! What a bloody shock. I caught myself suddenly having to think. Life could change imminently. This little adventure of unemployment could soon be over. Shit.

As with all things work related, thought was quickly galvanised into action and I dragged my CV out of the document folder – grrrrrrrrrr. I gave myself an hour to rewrite it in a comprehensive and chatty fashion – yes, I’m a dyed in the wool deadline addict.

I began removing all links to my work on the worldwide wonder web which I’d lovingly searched out in my first jobsearch sojourn. Boo hoo – my social media CV was lame and had to be put out to pasture.

Then taking the advice of my CV appraiser, I dumbed down the font (apparently it was distracting and would mean my CV would be straight in the bin), I removed the bolded type (apparently incredibly distracting and annoying and would mean my CV would be straight in the bin) and I added some editorial around my work (apparently just listing it would be incredibly annoying and distracting etc. etc.). The finished work was much better and I spotted a most embarrassing typo – I’d spelt Communications as communciations – which I swiftly changed. Cringe – my usual faves are brest regards and daft copy which never go unnoticed, thankfully I’ve never committed the cardinal sin of typing pubic relations as many of my (former) colleagues have. I digress, as I pressed send message, I breathed a sigh of relief and waited ten minutes before calling the recruiter.

‘Hi – I’ve sent you my redraft, it’s much better’
‘Thanks, I’ll pop it across’

Ten minutes later, !NUMBER WITHHELD!, I knew it was her…

‘Darling, what was your last job title? I can’t see it on the CV…’

Oh god, in my panic I’d left it off.

‘Don’t worry I’ll change it and pop it over.’
‘Thanks (choke), speak to you soon!’

With that done it was time to pick up Miniminx – we did the weekly shop and went hideously over budget. By the time we got home I was feeling tired and irritable.

‘Sorry, Mummy is feeling a bit cruddy’
‘Don’t worry Mum.’
‘It’s just that there’s all these job thingies.’
‘Yeah great, you need a job.’
‘I don’t know if I want to work, I like being at home and doing my blog and writing.’
‘Well it’s tough Mum, I’d rather be at home all day but I have to go to school. Sorry but you have to go to work’

And so I heard a small version of myself deliver the bare naked truth…Mummy needs to get a job.

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I’ve been burying my head in the sand, and this week the snow, and it’s time to face facts. Staying at home with no income is a fool’s paradise.

I’m a bit lost without the social, intellectual and fiscal stimuli of working. Miniminx is bored of me being at home – she’s missing all the goodies I used to bring home from my travels and the general haphazard nature of our life which we’ve grown accustomed to.

Going to school is a bit of a grungefest these days, instead of arriving to drop her off in a cab with darkened windows and tottering in the playground fully made up, with glossy hair and crazy heels, it’s now a walk along the River clad in parka, jeans and biker boots (yes, of course I wear a top!) and lucky if I’ve managed to grab a shower yet.

She’s going to be in for a fright when she starts to notice that my purse strings are going to be much tighter, even though the heartstrings are still tuggable, Pester Power moments will be played out on deaf ears – you know the ones ‘But I really, REALLY need it, I reeeally do – it would make me so happy. You know you’re the best Mummy.’

Don’t get me wrong, there’s fun to be had in this downtime but being at home hasn’t made me tidy the house more or start knitting – I still spend most of my day, mainly out of ‘Im-not-working-but-I-know-I-should-be’ guilt, sat at my computer in search of the main chance! I think I’ve lost my gall these last few weeks and I’m wondering if I will ever work again, it’s a crisis of professional confidence and it’s eating away at me day by day.

It was easy to keep busy in January as it was all very novel – fabulous in fact. But February? It’s time to take stock and hit the refresh button on my reality check page, I’ve got to take a sharp look at our expenses and start making cutbacks;

Newspapers & magazines (now get them online)
Lovefilm subscription is gone (£10 per month)
Virgin Wines Discovery Club cancelled (£80 per quarter)
£8 per hour baby sitters no more (£80 per month)
cut back on the food bill (cut back to £60 per week – difficult when there’s no Aldi or Lidl in walking distance)
designer clothes can wait until I get working (thousands!)
taxis only when necessary (hundreds)
no more cinema (£50 per month)
or eating out (a lot)
no holiday (a massive amount)
personal trainer (£400 per ten sessions)
beautician (back to doing my own pedicures etc)
turn off the heating in the day when I’m home and wear scarf and gloves (well, I’m not really going to do that)

And that amounts to my lifestyle down the drain. My gym membership could go but that’s my sanity, and the cleaner, well it’s a minor expense and there’s nothing better than a loyal cleaner. I’ve also got Miniminx’s afterschool lessons to pay for; Stagecoach £315, guitar lesson £45 and all the school trips, plus it’s her birthday soon which will have to be downsized this year. At least there are no school fees to pay.

So how will I make any cash without a job in the credit crunch? Blogging – I wish I could but why pay a blogger when they do it for free?! Selling stuff online? I’ve signed up to Music Magpie to ditch my CDs, and while I buy on ebay, I don’t tend to sell on it. Carboot sales?

I’ve hit The Wall – like Simon Pegg in Run Fat Boy Run – and I’m wondering if now’s the time to find a different way to make a living…answers on a postcard please!

I’m going to grab my iPod and hit the treadmill in hope of inspiration…

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Maybe I’ve just got this all wrong, wrong, wrong and it’s instant Karma – Jude Law is playing the Minx is in new film Rage…
41636d7f-9cb5-4868-bf7b614a39f342011

He even looks a bit like me – the shame!

mensbra011

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winter-wonderland

Oh my oh my – how much fun we’ve been having the last two days – no school, lots of fun and lots and lots of snow. And the best bit (among many) – I think I’ve finally fallen in love with this area!

I’ve been a complete urban minx for most of my life, so living in Zone 3 has never cut the mustard. We’ve lived here for 2.5 years now and my friends and family have always said ‘It’s great for kids, you did the right thing.’ But when they’ve asked me, ‘Are you happy?’ I’ve always said ‘Yes’ through clenched teeth.

It’s hard to uproot yourself, even if it’s for the better. I love 24hr living – but everywhere shuts early here. I’ve looked for the secret underground bars, but there are none and you can’t get a pint of milk after 10pm. To me, it’s all been a bit on the twee side. It’s very well-to-do, there are lots of 4x4s, boutiques aimed at the over 50s plus very noisy air traffic and even worse, nowhere to work locally. I’ve downplayed this with the upside of good schools and low crime, but it’s never really played out to anything like the way I’ve felt about where I’ve lived before.

I’m pleased, no, delighted, to say that all changed for the better yesterday. I’ll be honest, after an action packed weekend, we overslept and I was tempted to sleep in, but my half Catholic side got the better of me, it was time to get up and face the world.

It was so peaceful, so bright, so wonderful, so snowy. ‘Mummy! It’s Winter Magic!’ cried Miniminx as she looked outside, we both felt like we’d woken up in Narnia! Sitting down to breakfast and I put the news on – Radio 4, lots of snow, England’s gone to the dogs, yada, yada, parents are selfish (see Children’s Society story) and my phone rang ‘School’s closed!’ ‘Thanks heavenly Mum-babe! – School’s out honey, get your cosy stuff on, we’re out there’ – we headed out the door to one of life’s wonders…ankle deep snow everywhere and all our friends having a ball. It was like a perfect dream.

snow-lady

We went down the river (just at the end of our road) and who couldn’t help but squeal with delight and run around – all of Miniminx’s school friends were out frolicking and so were the parents. Lovely rosy cheeks, snowballs and smiles. It’s been such an unexpected delight, two days of freedom for the kids – building snowmen, toboganing, snowballing, crunchy stepping in the frozen snow – and everything pushed aside for once. It feels like a big, huge, belated Christmas present and it looks so beautiful round here, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else and I’m so happy that we’ve had these two days.

So, it’s time to put out the rubbish and the recycling, make sure we get up on time and find that lost homework, but I tell you, there’s a lot to be said for Winter magic, as cold as it is, just thinking about it makes me feel warm inside, and it’s not just the central heating on full blast!

And a big shout out here – thanks Jo for your lovely bloggers campfire – I’ve really enjoyed reading all the posts and what a great collection of people.

Ciao for now…more snow forecast

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Miniminx and I have both got cricked necks from too much Wii Fit and sleeping at funny angles – oh ha ha not. I’ve learned the true meaning of a pain in the neck. Oh yes, kids do say the funniest things don’t they. My reputation is in tatters thanks to Miniminx and her salacious gossip…

Taking full of advantage of my lack of gainful employment, Miniminx enjoyed a day at home on Monday with warmed neckpad, hot water bottle, Disney Channel, lots of moaning and wearing out the battery on her DS (oops sorry I darling, I forgot where I hid, I mean tidied away the charger…). She seemed fine yesterday, so off to school we went.

A few hours later, I get the call from school, ‘Your little darling is in the sick bay and wants her Mummy’. So off I pootle to school and pick her up and we have to cab it to my long awaited facial with her wearing my long-haul-flight-neck-cosy… I thought I’d take advantage of the Giraffe 2-4-1 dinner and stuff cooking so off we went afterwards for a nice quick supper and an arm wrestle over homework.

‘Mum, it’s lucky I can remember your mobile number off by heart now as the ladies in the school office didn’t have to go through all the files.’
‘Oh, you’re such a clever little darling aren’t you!’
‘Oh yeah, and they asked if you’d be at work but I told them you wouldn’t be ‘cos you’re UNEMPLOYED now and NOT WORKING.’
‘Thanks darling’

So it doesn’t end there, that was just the beginning….

I love Amy Winehouse and her scat cat antics, she’s one of my favourite singers and mostly, her lyrics are unintelligible to Miniminx (and me actually), but I think she’s going to have to be silenced for a while. Last night, Miniminx called down the stairs ‘MUUUUUUUUUUM?? WHAT’S REEE HABBB???

‘Oh, you know, it’s for drunks and druggies darling’
‘What does that mean?’
‘Um, well, if Mummy was drinking two bottles of vodka and having a glass of wine at breakfast, I’d probably need to go to rehab. But obviously I don’t need to because I don’t’ I said smugly…

My little angel’s face poked out of a mountain of bathtime bubbles and said what only an eight year old can…
‘Ha ha, I’m going to tell everyone at school you’re going to rehab…’

Well that will go down like a cold cup of sick with the school gate mums…I’m going to get a t-shirt printed and fast…I’M NO AMY.

Needless to say, she is in school today sporting a ThermaCare heatwrap with instructions to keep a lid on the gossip or all gadgets will be returned to Lapland pronto!

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So now it’s finally the school holidays, and boy has it been a long time coming, we decided to go to the cinema in Shepherds Bush yesterday -how long will Vue keep going with 14 Screens opening across the road at the new Westfield? After watching all the trailers online – Bedtime Stories, Devereaux, The Ink something or other and probably a few more, we went to see Four Christmases which Miniminx loved (some of the more adult jokes were way beyond her but the gross out stuff certainly wasn’t). The trailer is laugh out loud funny and for once there are still more gags in the movie which is my usual pet peeve with comedy ie. you know all the jokes before you even peck at your first bite of popcorn.

Westfield – the carbuncle on the side of the A40 that has gradually taken shape over the last few years with new bus garages and tube to accommodate shoppers – is open after a long wait, and at the height of the credit crunch, most shops have opened with huge price cuts.

Oh my god! It’s amazing – plus they have Wagamama, so lunch was sorted – also very American and it seems much bigger than the Westfield in San Francisco. Apart from being overheated and over lit – why do we get told to buy energy saving light bulbs when shopping centres blaze light 24-7? Miniminx asked for pocket money to buy me a Christmas present so I gave her £10 and she asked the lady behind the desk at Tiffany & Co what that would buy here – prices start at £40 she was told, much to her dismay!

We mooched around Miu Miu, Prada, DKNY – nothing very inspiring and no sale on in the big labels yet. There is a Zara Home so we had a good look around – it’s changed in the last two years, it’s no longer a cornucopia of exotic items, it’s trying to take on the blandness of The White Company and it’s more expensive – I bought a faux fur white bedspread at The White Company for £90, while Zara Home had throws starting at around £129-£179 – that brand can’t command that price so I’d expect to see huge price drops in the sale.

I should have taken photos – the kids have little W12 Black Taxi buggies to help them around the shops – great idea. Lots of very modern comfy public seating – it was all full though.

I’ll definitely go back, it’s a complete change of scene and quite refreshing – not sure if my love affair with Selfridges will continue – but Shopping, Seduction and Mr Selfridge lends an air of mythology to the place which I don’t think Westfield will ever have. We will see how that compares when we visit on Tuesday – in the meantime, I have to try and book a visit with Santa at the Selfridges Grotto.

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