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Tiddly pom

It’s been snowing! Bizarrely enough, I didn’t notice until checking facebook updates and realising that someone who lives a few streets away had updated that she was watching the snow. And I missed it – now it’s kind of drizzling.

You see, that’s the problem with snow. It sneaks up and falls so quietly you don’t know it’s doing it. Maybe if it made as much noise as thunder does, I wouldn’t miss it so often – as I do like watching it. But then I guess part of its appeal is the lazy way it drifts down and covers everyting quietly. Not sure that’s be the same if there was thunder in the background.

Not a good photo, but just to prove it…
snow

On a more practical note, I’m really, really hoping it now melts overnight. I’ve never driven in the snow before, and am still somewhat light-headed after a bout of flu last week. Driving to work tomorrow morning may be slightly challenging anyway with the light-headedness – I’m not sure adding snow to the mix will be a good idea.

Peace?

Since moving earlier this year, issues of peace and unity have become far more real to me, as I now live in a city which does have real issues with territorialism, drug problem, gang violence and so on. Yesterday I was supposed to be out in one area of the city with a colleague, but we had to reschedule due to there being a police cordon on some of the streets we were supposed to be on after a man was shot on Thursday night.

I’m not sure if I’ve just been naive, or very fortunate in not living in areas where I’ve really had to think about these sorts of issues. It’s shocked me – and the more reading and talking to people I do, the more shocked I become at how resigned to the situation some people are.

I know we naturally form into groups as humans, and that to some extent we define our groups based on who is or isn’t part of them – people who work together, students, parents with young children of a similar age, local residents etc. But what I just can’t get my head around is how people can feel so strongly about their groups and their ‘territory’ that they feel the need to resort to violence- that children and young people from one area of the city are scared to go into another area for fear of being physically assaulted – and a well-founded fear at that. It’s just so wrong – but how do we even begin to tackle it? And this isn’t just an idle wondering, but a serious work-related issue for me right now.

Along with about 300 other people, I joined the Peace and Unity march today – walking through the city centre declaring that we will not stand for the violence any longer – that things HAVE to change. Not many of us, it’s true, but maybe it’s a start. However, someone there today told me that her son was too scared to come, as he’d been told that there were going to be recriminations because of the Thursday night shooting. And that brings us back full circle.

How did we get into this mess? And how do we get out?

Lord, have mercy.

Small breakthroughs

This weekend, to be honest, I’ve been tired. Tired of the fact that every time I go somewhere I feel like the outsider, and feel like I’m struggling to make conversation with people. It’s not just emotionally tiring, but also somehow physically exhausting. I know this is to be expected, that it’s going to take time to get to know people, that I had a pretty unique group of friends back in Swansea. I know all that, really I do. But this weekend it’s been a struggle.

On Friday, I had a long battle with myself trying to decide whether or not to go to the Friday Nights evening (social group of 20s & 30s from the church) – there was a quiz night at one couple’s house. It was the first time since I arrived that the Friday Nights group was taking place, and I know that going to events like this is going to help me make friends. But oh, what a struggle to get myself motivated to go. And the evening was a bit of a mixture – there were a lot of people there, most of whom knew each other really well. But I did get some good conversations with a few people that went slightly beyond the "So when did you move, what are you doing here, how are you finding it…" type. And the group I was in won the quiz.

This morning, I had a real fight to make myself go to church. It’s far harder to be in a group when you don’t know people – it really accentuates the isolation, when staying at home with the TV and the internet you can distract yourself somehow. I had a conversation with God before I went, along the lines of "God, I’m just too tired to deal with trying to be sociable afterwards – please help". I guess I’d pretty much decided that I’d just leave straight after the service and not put myself through all the hanging around looking lost with a mug of tea bit.

As I sat down this morning, someone I’d not met before turned round to chat, and to ask who I was, which was a relief that they were initiating the conversation this time, rather than me. Then one of the guys I’d met on Friday came over, said hello, and sat down next to me for the service. I don’t think he has any idea how much that meant to me – to have someone seeming to actually want my company, rather than me feel like I’m intruding on other people’s company. I didn’t tell him, as I didn’t want to make him feel like he needs to do the same again – but it made things so much easier. And then one of the girls I’d chatted to for a long time on Friday came over after the service, we chatted for a bit, and I have a dinner invite for some time soon. And I’ve now met the person who hosts the homegroup I’m now attached to – unfortunately I missed last week’s session as I was elsewhere in the country for work reasons.

Small things but oh, so needed.

It WILL get better. Hopefully soon.

Some time later

Sorry – I have been back online for a while, but haven’t managed to organise my thoughts enough to post anything much. And then the longer I left it, the more I had to try and form into sentances. So I’ll start now and try to post a bit more over the next few days.

The move up here went mostly ok, although it was slightly hampered by the removals firm having a crash before getting to me, so I didn’t actually make it up here until about 8pm. Thankfully, my Fantastic Aunt (who’d agreed to come and stay with me for a few days) had arrived, contacted the letting agent and collected the keys, and had arranged for a Tesco delivery. So by the time I finally got here, at least some things were under control.

It’s been over 10 years since I last moved to somewhere new, so most of the last month or so has been taken up with starting to get to know my new area. I had no idea how odd it would be to know what you needed, but have absolutely no idea where to start looking for it. But by now things are starting to feel more normal. I live in a truly beautiful area, with a nature reserve only 5 minutes walk from my house. It’s amazing. Unfortunately, the weather has sometimes been a little too changeable for me to enjoy it properly, but there’s so much to explore.

And that last phrase could probably be applied to my whole life up here. It’s not like I don’t miss Swansea, especially my friends. It’s going to take a long time to get to the stage where I’m forming friendships anywhere like the ones I’ve left behind. I know there are going to be tough times, and that’s kind of why I need to get this written down somewhere, so I can come back and read it when necessary.

There’s so much to explore – and I’m excited.

Countdown…

Today was my last day at work. I knew it was going to be quite odd, as this would probably be the first time that it actually sunk in that I was leaving. What I hadn’t banked on, though, was the way the day turned out. From first thing this morning, when I unlocked the office door to find my desk bestrewn with balloons, sprinkly things, banners and a very large chocolate cake I’ve spent the day amazed at my colleagues’ fantastic-ness. I did rather start to wonder what on earth I was doing leaving when people were being as nice to me as this. So, I now have a whole series of cards, appreciative emails and gifts. And I’ve used up a whole series of tissues. Goodness knows how I’m going to cope saying goodbye (or ‘see you soon’ – which turned out to bbe easier to deal with, if maybe a bit hopeful) to church people, and some of my really close friends. Maybe I should have bought more tissues when I went to Tesco earlier.

In other news, I have now filled two boxes with books. Whilst this is better than none, I really should get on with a few more tomorrow – before Lemly carries out her threat and starts ‘helping’ me.

Stuff to do

Well it looks as though I’m getting there – sort of…

Find somewhere to move to – done.
Sort out stuff with estate agent – done
Book removals firm – done
Order packing boxes – done
Sort out mail redirection – completed the form, need to take it back to the Post Office
Leave clear notes for successor at work – mostly done.
PACK! – um…that’s where it all goes a bit pear-shaped. (Un)fortunately, my boxes will arrive tomorrow, so that’s my best excuse for not packing gone. Now I may have to be a bit more inventive with reasons for not getting on with it – any suggestions?

Reasons not to exercise, part one

So I really did mean to go swimming tonight…but the pool has sprung a leak! Apparently 285 cubic metres of water was lost from the little 25m pool I swim in. Makes you wonder if the area around is now all boggy, or whether the cars are floating in the car park.

Oh, and if you think I made it up, the proof is here: http://www.tinyurl.com/34h3ep

All change please!

I’ve not posted for a long time. Mostly, this was just because I felt I had nothing really to say. Life was tootling along from day to day in a pleasant sort of way, with nothing earth-shattering happening. Until, that is, I read the jobs section of the Grauniad one Saturday morning…and now I have a new job.

The good part about my new job is that it’s a new post in a new team, with the chance to do something far more worthwhile. The sort-of-good, sort-of-bad and mostly just-plain-scary part about my new job is that it’s in Nottingham, which is really a bit far away to allow me to commute from Swansea!

So, having sunk contentedly into the pleasant quicksand that is Swansea for the last decade, I’m now trying to figure out how to extricate myself from everything and everyone I know here, and to move to a new city to start afresh, where I know pretty much nothing and no-one.

I know deep down that this is the right move. My pros and cons list tips firmly in the pros direction, and I do have a sense of God leading me in this direction. It doesn’t mean I understand why this is the time to move, but I’m doing my best to trust that it’ll be ok.

So, this blog may become a bit more active over the next weeks and months as a way of keeping in touch with some of thiose people who are currently integral parts of my life, and who I’m going to miss so very much. You know who you are…and you’re going to be impossible to replace.