The house search ~ update #1

We have now been in Wales for two months. We still haven’t viewed a single house. Why?, you ask. Well, I think it is well known that the market sort of die around Christmas times and slowly picks up again towards Easter. There is not much on the market at the moment, there are two houses in the village that I like but are a bit more than I would like to pay for them – one of them has been on the market since May which I think, after our previous experience, means that they are not willing to accept lower offers. They haven’t dropped the price either. I still think we should go and view them at some point.

In the neighbouring villages, there are only new builds, some of them with crazy prices, as in, I might as well have stayed in Berkshire if I wanted to pay or even had 3/4 of a million pounds for a 4 bed. And I am seriously unwilling to pay £375k for a Barratt David Wilson home, I mean, that is what we used to live in and the quality leaves a lot to be desired, if I am honest.

So this is where we stand at the moment. I wish our landlords would decide to sell their house, I would be so grateful not to have to move again!

Pausing for a moment…

I have tons of stuff to write. Really, there is so much inside my head, bursting to come out, that sometimes I wonder if I should just write a book (no, I shouldn’t is the answer). However, I really really need to get some proper paid work at the moment, so I really really need to work on my professional website and try to get my name out there, instead of focusing my time on a blog very few people read. 🙁

Now, I know blogging is a proper job for so many people, and I am not dismissing the power it has, but I am not a natural self promoter and I need to focus on one thing at a time. I am still going to try and publish a couple of times a week to keep it going and, hopefully, in a few weeks’ time, I will be ready to get this blog going in full swing again. 🙂

Please don’t go away my two readers <3

Things I will miss from Berkshire ~ Tastes Deli

Yesterday I started a new series of monthly posts and mentioned I wanted a few regular features. Today I start a new one: Things I will miss from Berkshire. This one is a bit different, first because I don’t know how often it’s going to happen – I suppose as and when I miss them? – and second because I think I will eventually run out of things to wrote about. But, as much as we were looking forward to escaping from Berks, there is a part of me that will miss these little things that I won’t be able to find here.

I will start this one with a lovely little shop in the middle of Eton High Street. Once upon a time, L was a baby and I used to take her to swimming lesson at Eton College swimming pool. I then found out that this lovely little shop, called Tastes Deli, sold a mix for this very Brazilian thing called pão de queijo. So I started going there occasionally for my PDQ fix.

This was before I could drive and then Waitrose started selling the mix and started buying with my shop. Until one day, Waitrose stopped selling it. *Shock horror* So I went back to Tastes and, when I couldn’t find it on the shelves, I asked the lady at the counter if they stopped selling it. She said they did, but that if I bought the whole box (of 24!) she could order one for me. I said yes please and she ordered it. When I managed to go through 24 boxes of pão de queijo (it took a while!), I went to back to Karen and asked if she could order me another one – she then told me she was selling them again as other customers had also asked after them, so now I could buy my usual 2-3 boxes *hurrah!*.

This taught me a very important lesson: you, as a customer, are more important to the small retailer than to the big one and, if they can, they will go out of their way to help you. If you stop buying a packet of biscuits from Waitrose, Asda or whichever supermarket you normally shop at, it won’t make much difference to them, but if you start buying your biscuit from a small shop near you, it could make a big difference to them.

I have remained a loyal customer until we ran away moved and have already placed my first order online, but I will miss actually going into the shop and having a nice talk with Karen.

(When I was placing my order, I thought I would put a little note to say we had moved and we would miss her but then thought it was a bit silly as she might not connect the name with me and would be left wondering who the hell that was. I needn’t had worried: I got a message back shortly after asking “you moved!?!” – so I was left a little bit weepy to know that people care and feeling a bit like a twat for not telling her in first place.)

Anyway, I am rambling a bit now – but I am going to miss Tastes and Karen and will surely visit every time we go back to see our friends. And if you are in Berkshire, go and visit her and her wonderful shop full of wonderful and delicious things (and if you are not, go and visit the online shop!)

Image source: http://mapio.net/s/36606955/

Five loves ~ January

Since I decided to take my blog back to its original purpose, I have been thinking about features I can have regularly here. So here is my first one: five loves. Once a month, on the last day, I will write about five things I loved about the month just ending. It will help me focus on the good things in life – and good things do happen!

January can be a dreary month, with long nights and all the sparkly Christmas lights gone. For us, it was a return to normality after a completely out of ordinary December. A month to relax, enjoy being a family, rest. We didn’t go look at any houses at all (though I am keeping my eye on rightmove and zoopla). As I look back to the month just finishing, these were five of my favourite things *sang to the tune of Julie Andrews 😀 *:

1. Going back to normality

Well, I know I have already mentioned it, but it’s good to go back to some sort of routine. L is back at Brownies – I am not yet, but I will be soon! – and gymnastics, the husband is enjoying the much shorter commute and taking the monster to school every morning and I am getting into the swing of writing and watching BBC 1 all day looking for jobs. We are not there yet – L is missing her music and martial arts, I am missing girl guiding and yoga, I don’t husband is missing anything yet – but it almost feels normal now.

2. Our local beach

We knew the beach. We had been there before. But knowing that we can drive 5 minutes (or walk, in summer, as now the path on the field is not really walkable) and be in the most beautiful place is amazing. I drove down there one morning earlier this month, totally intending to put my feet on the Bristol channel, but it was so windy I couldn’t even get close to the sea. It was still wonderful though. And also had to leave my car at the garage last week for its MOT and I took the bus back and – OMG – what a bus ride! I think I will take the bus more often.

3. Sodastream!

I’ve been saying for ages that I wanted one. I saw one on offer at The Range a while ago and told husband I would buy one. He didn’t seem bothered either way – other than offering the odd anecdote about when they had one in the 80s -, but I love fizzy water and felt horribly guilty about buying yet another plastic bottle. Then a couple of weeks ago, Sodastream had an offer on their website, trying to promote the fact that you would be saving thousands of bottles by getting one, so I got sucked into buying one. It looks ages to arrive, as I think the offer was way more successful than anticipated: according to an email I got apologising for the delay in the delivery, apparently 10,000 people bought one. So far, all I have to say is that it was £20 well spent. I got a couple of extra bottles and some syrups as well, so we’ve been enjoying loads of fizzy water and soft drinks. I fully expect that making lemonade will lose its novelty at some point, but right now, I am really liking the availability of sparkling water in my life.

4. Family <3

I know this was part of the point of moving, but I am finding it wonderful to have family nearby. My own family is very close to us via Skype and we talk all the time, but we met my sister-in-law more times in the past month than the whole of the previous year. It’s such a nice thing to be able to just ring them up and say I am cooking something for lunch tomorrow, would they like to come over – no need to plan weeks in advance, travel two hours etc etc. I am really loving it all.

5. iCarly

I know, I know. I really shouldn’t, but L is really into Netflix and Amazon Prime shows, and she found the Nickelodeon stuff. I couldn’t stand Victorious or Sam and Cat – sorry to all Ariana Grande fans out there but annoying! -, but I got really into iCarly. It was very puerile in bits, but it is a show for (older) children, after all. We adopted random dancing for life – even the husband will break out in dance if someone says random dancing! If it’s good enough for Michelle Obama, it’s good enough for us. 😉

Many other lovely things happened, like my ring story – I told it on instagram – but here is my pick. Hoping February will bring many more joyful things!

Shopping Haul! ~ L’Occitane

I will start by explaining this is an anomaly. I am not into shopping at all – so if shopping hauls are not your thing, don’t despair, as it is highly unlikely I will have another one for a while unless I go to IKEA.

This is actually an anomaly in two senses: I am not a shopper and I don’t really buy cosmetics apart from the very very basic stuff.

It all began in late November. I was fed up of house buying-house selling, our seller had just pulled out, stress levels were on an all-time high. So I decided to treat myself to one of these adult advent calendars filled with fancy stuff I would never have ventured into a shop to search for myself. All the really expensive fancy ones were already sold out, but – as I probably gathered by now – I am not fancy, so I had my eye on either the Body Shop one or the L’Occitane one. Years of online shopping have killed my ability to interact with shop assistants, so I initially just hovered outside both shops, trying to decide in which shop I would be less likely to be embarrassed by my lack of social skills. Eventually, I decided that L’Occitane smelt slightly better so in I went.

I needn’t had worried – the ladies were wonderful – high five to the staff at L’Occitane shop in Windsor! -, went out of their way to help and the packaging – oh my word! -: it was like the Rowan Atkinson scene in Love Actually minus Alan Rickman’s annoyance, tissue paper, perfume, confetti. It made me feel a little bit special, buying that for me, during such a difficult time.

Then December came and every day I was surprised with this little windows of joy. I loved everything and, before the month ended, I had already been to the Cardiff store to get a full sized almond hand cream. I then got a 20% off voucher, to be used within 30 days.

Fast forward to last week. January’s end is in sight and my mini products from the advent calendar are slowly ending *sniff!* I remembered the voucher that still lived inside my bag and decided to treat myself again. So this is what I got:

Ha, I don’t think I had mentioned this was online shopping. Yes, this is the box the postie brought me. Beautifully packaged, though the box was a bit too big for the contents, which are:

  1. Foot cream: I have been using this after my shower before I go to bed and my feet feel lovely (but you will have to believe me, no one wants a picture of my feet!). I am normally a bare-footer and have quite thick skin, I feel like all the dry bit have gone really quick. And my 8 year old loves it too, so it thought I would give the full sized one a try.
  2. Shampoo and conditioner: I have curly, curly hair and these make my hair so soft. It helped massively with the frizz – though it might have been Wales’ such softer water, who know! – so I splashed for the biggest size available. Plus I like the idea of being able to buy a refill.
  3. Lip balm: I really really liked the lip balm from the advent calendar, but I saw these little tins and, the price being the same, I picked the prettiest one. I was a little bit disappointed when I opened because I didn’t ready it properly – it’s rose scented, not rose tinted. But I love shea butter and this is really great for these windy days we have been having.

I am really happy with my buys, and even if I wouldn’t normally spend this sort of money on myself, I think it was worth it – I will update you if I change my mind! Now, let me know what are your beauty must-buys here on the comments! 🙂