Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Just some photos I found...

Holy cow I miss Kenya.

Here are some photos I've just found on my phone...

Anyone want to buy a souvenir? 
Still smiling...

My old view from my apartment in Mombasa

One last sunset at Mombasa airport

Are you freaking kidding me?!

Shirt from a market in Kenya - you like? 
Pieces of Kenya I carry with me all the time :)

Monday, 29 April 2013

Mission: Reclaim my weeknights...

Now that I'm working full time once again, I'm determined to make more of my weeknights than I used to before I went to KENYA.

You know what it's like, it's so easy to let Monday slip into Thursday and before you know it, it's time to put the bins out again and gear up for the weekend. As soon as you get home from work, the TV goes on and you go into zombie mode.

Well not me. I refuse to live for the weekends as much as I can. There are five decent weeknights to be utilised that I used to just squander.

The issue is that I'm BROKE, so I'm trying to find activities that are low cost or (preferably) free.

Here's what I've been doing to fill my weeknights so far:

1. Instead of putting the TV on, I've been listening to more music in the kitchen with The Boy and spending more time cooking different meals. I cooked a Kenyan meal for some friends the other night which was fun. We all ate with our hands and listened to Kenyan music - YOU WILL LIKE KENYA, FRIENDS.

2. I've joined the local library. You can borrow up to 20 books at a time and it's free to join up! I am a bookworm, unashamedly so. You don't even really have to be quiet in the library anymore! Nobody told me to shush (but then again I was talking with the Librarian so I guess she couldn't shush herself) It's open late enough to pop round when I finish work and browse.

3. I've been clearing out my clothes, shoes and accessories and selling lots of different things on eBay to make some extra cash. So far I've made over £100 just from selling clothes I haven't worn for the last six months (I made a rule for myself, if I haven't worn it in the last year, it goes, no excuses).

4. I've been painting! Yep, I surprised myself with that one too!

OK so I'm not going to win any awards for them but they were super easy and super cheap and I now have something to show for my weeknights...

5. I've made some biscuits. This activity wasn't so good for my waistline but will get me some new friends at work I'm sure :)
They're not burnt. Honest.
Any more suggestions for me?

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Reflecting On My Career Break in Kenya... Again...

Today was my first day at my brand new shiny job which means I have officially ended my Career Break chapter of my life.

I know I've said it before but it really has been the most incredible time and I have absolutely no regrets.

A classroom in a school - Mombasa, Kenya

Life's a beach! Nyali beach, Mombasa Kenya
It took a LOT of courage to get out of my comfort zone, to leave a job I enjoyed and biggest of all, to leave my husband behind when I so desperately wanted him with me... but the experience taught us that we both want to go away together at some point in the near future and do it properly and do it together. It wasn't that I was unhappy with the life I had previously, but I always knew there was a part of me that wanted MORE adventures and to try something new.

After all, we only live once. 

I had adventures every day in Kenya. I learnt a new language, I watched the sun set (and come up) I was independent, I got food poisoning twice, I ate fish from a stranger's open fire, I held a snake, I bartered in markets, I got a tattoo, I lived by myself in my own apartment, I cooked on a camping stove, I cycled 10kms in the Kenyan sunshine, I swam under a glass bottom boat and almost drowned, I drank 5 shots of tequila in one night, I got stung by a jellyfish, I had my hair braided, I burnt my skin climbing off a motorbike...

Adventures. Small ones, big ones, dangerous ones, hilarious ones. 

Buuuuuuut, I've been lucky enough to get a great contract job within a few weeks of returning back home and my first day today went well. New adventures.

Anyhoo, I have found it SO HARD to sum up my trip in words, so I decided to use the magic of Windows Movie Maker, with the help of one of my favourite songs, to display just a snippet of what I got up to in Kenya over those amazing three months.

Get the popcorn, and I hope you enjoy watching my video about my career break in Kenya.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

48 Hours in Barcelona...

I've just got back from a weekend in Barcelona with 7 other friends and right now I'd say I'm 50% beer, 30% tapas and 20% sunburned nose. Good times.

I'm proud to say that we out-rowdied a stag party on the flight there. Proud. Both parties were more than subdued on the return flight home.

With this being my fifth visit to Barcelona, I wanted nothing more than to eat tapas, drink cold beer and sit in warm sun. Not particularly cultured, but sometimes you just need to recharge the batteries and stay out of the museums.

On previous visits I've been to pretty much all of Gaudi's masterpieces, seen the Picasso museum and mostly every building of interest in between, so I'd say I'm entitled to now check out the beach and burger bars of Barcelona now, no?

I can report that a good time was had by all and I am so happy to be a resident of the European Union that allows me to 'pop over' to Barcelona for the weekend with a group of friends. The ironic thing is that it's cheaper and quicker to fly to Barcelona than it is to drive home and see my family in Berkshire. What is up with that?

My carbon footprint right now is ridiculous.

Here's a few snaps from a fun weekend! We:

* Started the weekend with beers on our friend's patio at their apartment - the first of MANY BEERS
* Ate in bar Muy Buenos on Carrer Carme - just off La Ramblas
* Drank in Bar Resolis on Riera Baixa
* Walked from Para-lell on Saturday to the marina then hit the beach
* Walked to the big bronze fish then on to Olympica
* Got the metro to Jaume 1
* Ate tapas in the El Born area near the Picasso Museum (a great area to wander around) while listening to live musicians in the sunshine - bliss
* Walked back down La Ramblas to get changed and head back out
* Ate dinner in Casa Delfin
* Bar hopped all the way home - buying cans of beer from street sellers when no bars were in sight
* Had breakfast in the sunshine before racing back to the airport on Sunday morning
* Slept on the plane home.

 Here's to making the most of weekends!

Thursday, 18 April 2013

10 things I hate about Facebook

I'm just going to get right in to it.

1. Vague status updates

You know the ones. The ones that make your blood boil but also make you hate yourself because you only get half a story and you WANT TO HEAR ALL THE STORY AND BE NOSY without actually interacting with the person posting. An example would be 'You think you know someone and then... thought you were my friend' WHAT! What happened! Tell me more! Are you hoping I'll ask? Because I won't. Laters.

2. Concerned friends responding to vague status update

'Oh no sorry hon, what's happened? I'm here if you need me' GAAAAAAAAH!! You don't even care!! You're just posting that because you're nosy! You probably never talk to each other in REAL life and since when was 'hon' even a word?

3. Baby bores

Uh oh, I'm sure I'm going to touch a nerve with this one... a LOT of my friends have babies now and while I'm over the moon for them, I REALLY don't need to see pictures of their children's bowel movements on my newsfeed. BOAK. That's not what Mark Zuckerberg had in mind when he created Facebook!

4. Plain boring bores

You know the ones, they're sat at home, they go on Facebook and update their status to read 'I'm bored'.
Well good for YOU. You've just bored me by typing those very words. Why don't you go outside and meet people? Why don't you do SOMETHING?

5. 'Having such a great night!' liars

The status update reads 'OMG having the BEST night ever!' Oh yeah? Why do I not believe you? Oh yes because if you actually were having the BEST NIGHT EVER you probably wouldn't have the time to get on FB and type that, would you? Hmmm? Am I right? Are you trying to make someone jealous?

6. Break up announcements

'Fred Smith is now listed as single' or whatever it says. Cue a flurry of gasps and oh-my-god-no-way-are-you-ok-hon responses. It's all so clinical and yucky. Plus it's completely awkward for the other person in the doomed relationship who didn't make the update first.

7. 'Click Like if you are against bullying/cancer/gang rape' 

Oh my god. Like, of COURSE I'm against gang rape and I'd love to be part of a movement to raise awareness, what do I need to do? Oh, just like this picture you say? OK. I guess that will help do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING ABOUT THE SITUATION other than make me even angrier. GOD.

8. What goes on tour stays on Facebook

Nowadays, nothing is secret. Absolutely zip all. If you go on a night out, it's pretty much guaranteed that before your drunken head hits the pillow, there will be ten pictures of you hitting the internet - five of which you probably uploaded yourself - leading to a string of notifications in the morning/afternoon the next day.

9. Facebook chat

Why am I typing messages to you in this tiny little box when I could be calling you or better still *gasp* talking to you FACE-TO-FACE! No one can remember feeling anything other than pissed off when a message box pops up with someone you haven't spoken to in years wanting to 'chat'. Piss off, I was only on here to spy on someone and stalk my way through their photos - I don't want to CHAT.

10. That little red notification flag of doom/joy

What is it about that little red notification flag that can make or break our day?? When did we get so bothered about what other people thought of a status/picture/video? Why do you feel so empty and worthless when you click on Facebook to be greeted with NOTHING. HAHA NO FRIENDS! NO ONE LIKES ANYTHING YOU POSTED. YOU ARE WORTHLESS - oh wait, I just got a notification! Yay!

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Warning: Post-travel blues setting in...

I think I've been doing pretty well since I got home from you-know-where.

Most days I've got dressed, even if by getting dressed I mean I climb out of pajamaz and into some kind of animal onesie.

On a good day I usually only keep up with the Kardashians once.

I joined the library and took out 8 books. AT THE SAME TIME.

I got the one and only job I applied for. I start next Wednesday - thank you very much *takes a bow*

I haven't shouted at children in the supermarket and screamed 'Don't you know how much you have? Why aren't you grateful for what you have?? Don't you know there are children in Kenya with NOTHING?'

So, yeah, it's been pretty good so far being back home.

Is this home? I hope so! Bamburi beach, Mombasa

Until today.

Today it feels as though a giant grey cloud is over my head? You want to know why? Because there IS a giant grey cloud in the sky over my house that has not moved ALL DAY.

I'm so tired I can barely move and the worse thing of all is that I have... a sniffle.

I know.

If it weren't for the fact that I needed to go out today to print something, I would not have gotten dressed today. The news is depressing me, the weather is depressing me, the TV commercials are depressing me.

I feel blue.

Oh yes a blue sky in Bamburi, Mombasa
I'll snap out of it tomorrow, I have lots of things to be positive about but it's good to be down in the dumps every so often as it reminds you how far up you can go from there! (See? Positive thinking already!).

Monday, 15 April 2013

My top job interview tips

I'm job hunting right now. Oh joy. Hello real life, how have you been? OH EXACTLY THE SAME AS I LEFT YOU. How dull. *Update - since starting this blog I have actually GOT A JOB*

I work at the mall now!
But a job is necessary. It seems that when you don't have any money coming into your account and you steadily have lots of outgoing payments and keep buying Kenyan souvenirs, you can get yourself into something of a financial predicament.

I have a few assorted job interview tips and advice for you that I've picked up along the way, maybe they'll be of some help to you.

1. On the day of your interview, brush your teeth BEFORE putting on your interview outfit. That way you will avoid doing what I did on the morning of my last interview and NOT drop toothpaste down your carefully selected outfit minutes before you have to leave the house!

2. Street view BOTH parts of the address. The other day I Googled the post code of the address I was given by my recruitment consultant and was satisfied by what I saw enough to head over there on interview day. Feeling SUPER smug, I arrived thirty minutes early only to find that the building on street view had been DEMOLISHED. Uh oh. It wasn't exactly my fault, but arriving at the new address an hour late all flustered wasn't the impression I was going for. Turns out they had given me the correct first part of the address and the wrong postcode. Oops.

3. Dress for the job role you're applying for. If the job role involves anything that asks for a little creativity, remember to jazz up your outfit to make you stand out enough (BUT NOT TOO MUCH). Maybe wear neon tights with an otherwise plain outfit, a bold necklace or, if you're like me, a miniature top hat!

4. Go with relevant questions. When I used to interview people, I LOVED it when people came prepared with questions! They could be anything from 'what is the best/worst thing about working here?' to 'what is a typical day like here?' or 'how is the company performing?' I would say this is a relevant question to ask as it's important to know you're not taking a job in a company on the brink of shutting down.

5. SMILE. The impression you want to give at an interview is that you could start tomorrow and take hold of things, no problem. That starts with smiling. You'll appear confident, you'll look relaxed and as if you were born for this role. Plus, you'll build a nice rapport and hopefully make whoever is interviewing you less inclined to ask you a horrible curve ball question about what you dislike most about yourself... (I hate that question)

6. Always turn a negative in to a positive. Never leave an answer on a negative note! So if you are asked what you dislike most about your current/previous job and your response is something like 'We're extremely short staffed so there isn't always time to do everything I'd like' you can turn it around into a positive response by adding 'but it's great that I get to experience so many different aspects of Marketing/Sales/Support/IT!'

7. Memorize your CV. One of the first things you'll be asked is usually 'Talk us through your CV' and if you don't know it... good luck.

Overall though, enjoy the experience, it's not often you have to sell yourself in life and for some it doesn't come naturally. But if you don't, the person who comes in after you will and they'll get the job! If nothing else comes from it, you'll have had the chance to be interviewed and you can always ask for feedback if the unlikely happens and you don't get the job...

I want a cut of your first paycheck if any of these help get you your dream job!

Thursday, 11 April 2013

7 things you DON'T want to hear your safari driver say...

I've been lucky enough to have been on a few different safaris in my life so far and it's such an amazing feeling waking up in the morning knowing all you have to do that day is spot animals and eat a buffet lunch, then sip a beer in the evening as the sun sets while you watch the animals at a nearby watering hole...

... What was I saying? I started day dreaming on a major scale there...

I've been to:

* Shimba Hills Reserve
* Tsavo East
* Tsavo West
* The Serengeti
* Lake Nakuru National Park
* Lake Naivasha National Park
* Ngorongoro Crater - Amazing!

I am desperate to get to the Masai Mara and Amboseli but there's plenty of time for that...

Anyway, here's a few things you NEVER want your safari driver to say...

1. "Ah shoot, I forgot my glasses"

Essentially, what you see on your safari depends on two things; luck and your driver's eyesight. So if your driver isn't wearing his glasses... get ready to see a whole lot of nothing!

2. "Here we have a giraffe... oh wait, that's a dead tree"

Hmmm if your safari driver can't spot the difference between a dead tree and a giraffe, be worried.

3. "Don't panic, but we've run out of fuel"

It's getting dark, there are no other vehicles on the roads in sight and you're at the side of the road with an empty tank... what are those things shining in the distance? Are they eyes???

4. "Have you seen the way out?"

Safari parks are big. There are lots of roads that wind round and around. If your driver asks this question, just laugh nervously and look out the window and assume it's a joke.

5. "Don't panic but I can't close the roof and a cheetah/leopard/bird of prey is about to get in the truck"

Sometimes there will be animals on top of your safari vehicle. You do NOT want to hear these words from your guide.

6. (Looking at a lion) "I've never seen one of those before"

Err. That's a lion. Who did you train with again?

7. (Around the campfire before you're about to sleep in the wild. In a tent.) "The last time I was here, the funniest thing happened, this LION was under our truck when I got up in the morning".

Yeah this one happened when I was camping in the Serengeti. Just what you want to hear before going to sleep hey?

Good night!

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Remembering Catty...

I miss my beautiful boy so much. He sure LOVED to sleep and eat and meow and he is missed a LOT around the place. I found these photos on the computer the other day and wanted to share them.

Should I get another cat now or wait a few months? He can't be replaced, that's for sure. He was a one of a kind cat.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

3 questions not to ask me...

Oh my days. It's as if I never left this country and went to live in Kenya for three months. I can feel myself getting absorbed back in to 'normal' life here and that's not good.

There's a black cloud over my head today that I can't shift. Normally I try to be the most positive person I know, but it's hard today.

Want to know why? People insist on asking the most STUPID questions about my time abroad and I can't even try to sum up how amazing the experience was in the small window of time people have for me to answer. I feel like I'm on COUNTDOWN.

If you really want to know what it was like to live in Kenya, give me at least an hour. Let me sit down somewhere with a projector and speakers and play you a video. Let me wax lyrical about the people, the food, the weather, the transport, the music, the nights out, the days in, the hangovers, the highs, the lows, the food poisoning... all of it.

But whatever you do, don't ask me any of the following... I am allowed to punch you if you do.

1. "Where's your tan?" This is my number one shortcut to punching you square in the face. Look at me. I'm English. I'm not Spanish, Italian, Greek. I'm English. In short, I burn, I peel and then I go back to this same pasty, pale shade you're looking at right now. Me and Nicola Roberts are the same. You know, her from Girls Aloud.

I am SO over it. What I'm more interested in is how the experience has changed ME INSIDE. You really think I care about getting a tan when I'm surrounded by the most interesting people I've ever met? Oh hold that thought, let me instead go and lie on a beach bed and stare at the sun while it attempts to cook me alive and miss out on other experiences.

All the above comes from the fact that I'm bitter about the fact that I can't tan of course, but it really is such a stupid thing to say to someone, especially when skin cancer is such a risk from sunbathing. I'd much rather come home paler than be at risk from skin cancer thank you. *reaches for fake tan*

2. "Is it safe there?" It's 2013, Kenya is not run by SAVAGES. They have MALLS, CARS, WIFI (albeit, shockingly slow...) PIZZA OVENS,  MOBILE BANKING. Most of all, they have community, people talk to each other, people know each other (gasp!) and I feel a hell of a lot safer on the streets of Mombasa than I do in Leeds. Yes there is crime, but show me somewhere that there isn't and I'll move there right now, you watch me. Help me carry this box of wooden souvenirs.

3. "What are you going/do you want to do now you're back in England?" OH I DON'T KNOW. ALL I WANT TO DO AT THE MOMENT IS SIT AT THE WINDOW AND HOWL AT THE MOON AT THE INJUSTICE OF IT ALL. I miss my cat, I hate that he got put to sleep, I hate that it's cold, I hate having to wear TIGHTS over my new tattoo while it is healing. I hate going to the supermarket. I want to go back to Kenya. THAT'S what I want to do now I'm back in England. Instead I have to get a job and shiver.

So, like I say, settling in back home is going pretty well. You have been warned, I WILL punch you square in the face if you ask me any of the above.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Adapting to living in England again...

I've mostly been wearing sleeves and tights, I haven't had to think about those things for a few months.

Things that are nice about being home:

  • Being with The Boy (of course) I missed him a fair bit
  • Snuggling! I love snuggles! There was no snuggling when we were both in Kenya, it was too hot
  • Having the TV to myself during the day when Josh is at work (I don't have a job yet)
  • Wearing different clothes to the select clothes I had with me and having my full range of accessories
  • I suppose it is nice to bundle up and go outside for a walk
  • Red wine by open fires
Things that are shit about being home:
  • It's not Kenya
  • Kenya felt more alive, everyone here seems so weary and fed up
  • It's freezing
  • I don't have a job
  • The beach is miles away and it's freezing
  • There are no matatus
  • It's not Kenya
So to sum up, I think I'm doing quite well at adapting to being back in England. I can't WAIT for my first job interview!