this is almost the new normal

So hello! Here we are in Singapore for a week and a bit and we’re settling in. We’re staying in a serviced apartment at the top of Orchard Road (the main fancy shopping strip, full of designer clothes and handbags and jewelry). Dave is at work and B and I are entertaining ourselves in the pool and venturing out for groceries occasionally.

We spent the first weekend apartment hunting and *fingers crossed* we’ve found something that will suit us really well. We’ve put in our Letter of Intent which the landlord signed, now we’re just waiting for the lease agreement. I don’t want to jinx it by talking about it too much yet… but it’s lovely and within budget. Leases here are for two years so that will have us set for the whole time.

I took B out to get her school uniform and ohmygoodness she looks so cute in it! She starts next Monday. I’m hyping it a lot so she’s excited — we both are — she’s already feeling the lack of other kids and I’m getting frustrated with trying to drag her around places. That’s one thing disappointing about this place: no families that we’ve met. The first place we stayed in February last year was full of expat families in the process of moving here and was much better set up for kids.

I’m not actually sure how I’m going to get her to school yet. We obviously have no car. I blan to use the school bus if we can, but we can’t book it until we know our permanent address. Fingers crossed there’ll still be a place. Also, we’ll still be here for the first two weeks. The bus company said they may be able to pick her up but priority goes to kids with permanent addresses. Worst case scenario is I cab her there and back every day until we move. No, worst case scenario is there’s no room on the bus once we move and I have to walk her the 850 metres to and from school every damn day. (Which would be fine, except it’s hot and humid, yo!)

So I’m settling in. At the start of last week I wasn’t doing so well. On Monday I wrote this in my journal:

I’m struggling a lot with anxiety right now. Everythng is scary. I thought I’d be okay because we’ve been here before, but I’m not. It’s different to before. Different apartment. Different dynamic.

I don’t know where anything is. I know everything is a short distance away, and easy by cab ride, but I don’t know WHERE it is. I have no mental map of how things hang together. And actual maps don’t seem to help.

My instinct is to cower inside ignoring everything. I know it’s not healthy. I know I can’t do that. My normal way of dealing would be to go our for a walk, to explore. But, see, it’s hot outside. And sweaty! And B doesn’t really deal with the head so dragging her for a walk in it is not such a good idea.
It will get better. It will get better. It will get better. But now is NOT the time to be cutting back on my Zoloft!

It was the househunting that set me off. Trying to make a decision on where to stay without really knowing how everything hangs together. It would be easy if the apartments were right on top of the train stations, but most of them aren’t so we have to weigh up nice apartments against possibly poor locations. There was one place with awesome facilities for Bianca which we wrote off because it seemed to be in the middle of nowhere, but it actually turns out to be quite close to Robertson Quay and other nice things. But hey, we’re getting better. The place we *fingers still crossed* would like to live in is within easy walking distance to the tube for Dave, and we may even be able to afford a car.

Meanwhile back at the apartment, I have worked out the laundry system and mostly caught up, found a supermarket reasonably close with an icecream shop right nearby, and kind of got used to being around while the maid service cleans the rooms. I still feel like I’m haemorrhaging money and struggling to feed us within the limits of the (expensive) options at the supermarket and the equipment in the kitchen. But most of the time I have a smile on my face and I really like being here.

On the cusp

I started writing this on Monday when the packers were busy transforming our home into echoey rooms full of bubblewrapped icebergs, but the words wouldn’t come. Now I am on the plane, and there is room for words. Gosh, I love business class! I’ve got my own little pod to live in. Next to me is Dave and over by the window Bianca is chilling like a seasoned traveller, lying back in her seat watching My Little Pony, dinner on a clothed table in front of her.

(We are travelling business class because this is an official corporate move. We can’t afford to do it ourselves, but I would love to be able to! I think that’s my definition of wealthy – being able to travel business class without going broke to do it.)

We had a very hard few days there. Do you know, I’ve been off work since mid November, allegedly getting everything organised? And I thought I was doing well, I really did. Even though the list of stuff to do never seemed to get shorter, and I spent many a late night watching TV and playing on my phone instead of, say, making the curtains I’ve had the fabric for for months. Sometimes I got stressed thinking about everything that needed to be done, but then I’d think, “nah, it’s okay, the deadline’s Friday 2nd, it has to be done by then so it WILL be done.” Well, hello mid-December Nicky, it’s not fricking magic, YOU STILL HAVE TO DO IT ALL!

We were on our way to Ballarat on Christmas Eve when we realised our deadline wasn’t Friday, it was Monday when the packers came. At that point everything needed to be sorted into what’s staying and what’s going, and then that into whether it was coming with us, or going air freight or by sea. And if that wasn’t enough, we’d be away until late on Friday night and we had a farewell BBQ on Saturday to attend… suffice to say, we had some extreme late nights last weekend…

There I was on Monday morning after maybe 4 hours sleep for the third night running, eyes hanging out of my head and feeling at a loose end but the preparation was done. There was still heaps to do–cleaning, organising, those fricking curtains–but I couldn’t really do it while the packers were working. So Tuesday it all kicked off again for cleaning, painting doors, tidying the outside, getting rid of all the crap that was still hanging around — no matter how much stuff we took out of the house there was always another fucking load. Of course I drastically overestimated how much I could achieve in a day so Thursday was an all-hands-on-deck affair, but at 6:30pm when we walked out of the house (with yet another car load of crap) the house looked okay and ready for showing: not as perfect as I’d wanted but I just didn’t care anymore. Went back to Dave’s parents house, and drank several bottles of wine with his Dad, and breathed a sigh. Everything is in the hands of other people now.

*

Now we’re on a plane and I’m allowed to just be happy and excited. Did I mention that business class rocks? It is giving me delusions of grandeur and definitely spoiling me for economy.

There’ll be yet another list of things to organise once we’re on the ground again, but right now I’m just really fucking excited about what happens next!

Hold on tight, I’m about to get interesting…

… maybe. You tell me!

Dave has accepted a new job and we are moving… to Singapore!

Omigod, omigod, omigod…

This has been brewing for ages, well over a year, but it’s been in the why haven’t you TOLD me? category for about two months. And I don’t know why I haven’t told you, except that (a) it’s hard to burst back onto the scene with big news like that, and (b) even Dave wasn’t telling anyone until about a fortnight ago. Official wasn’t enough, it had to be official official before we could risk hexing it :-)

The original Singapore possiblity was mooted 18 months ago for a different role. Since then it’s been on again, off again, in Sydney instead, back in Melbourne, maybe London… it was exhausting. On our big holiday we decided to just ignore it and get on with our life, because we couldn’t keep putting everything on hold for a maybe. And then, of course, it kicked off again, and then it lulled, and then–the actual night we were signing the contracts for the new kitchen! — we got a letter of offer!

And so, this is where we are. Right now. Our flights are booked, we leave on 2nd January. A new adventure for a new year. Up till then I’ve got SO MUCH to organise. Doing stuff to the house, organising the decluttering and packing, closing out our life here and starting a new one. This is why I’m stressed. This is why I’m eating. But I’ve just got to get on with it because in four weeks we’re off!

Omigod, omigod, omigod!

It is going to be such a big adventure!

Eat it

I eat when I’m stressed. When I’m angry. When I’m upset. A therapist I once saw said I “digest my feelings” quite literally, and I think she’s right. Whatever it is, I eat them.

I have occasionally eaten so much that I can feel the food in the back of my throat. And yet, I keep on eating. Is that how foie gras geese feel? Those were the really stressy times. And no, I can’t purge. Cannot make myself throw up. Really, it’s amazing I’m not even fatter than I am now.

Right now is a really stressful time for me. I’ve got a lot on my plate that I’m trying to shuffle around, and mostly panicking and thrashing. So what I do instead is eat, or procrastinate for hours on the computer or my phone. Which obviously, isn’t helping my situation!

So today, I need to achieve. Get off the computer, and Get Stuff Done. Maybe I need to get out the timer – Flylady is right about some things, and setting a 15 minute timer to keep me focussed is one of them.

I wish I was writing more at the moment. I have so much to say.

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I have gas! And other news

Or non-news, Dave would say. Anyway, it’s been a bit of a crazy few weeks (more about that anon) so let’s catch up on where we are.

The kitchen is in – just about. They started putting it in on the Wednesday, you’ll remember, and I was hoping that it would all be done by the Friday. And it was, except for the tiling. It turns out the tiler comes later and is organised separately, which explains the designer’s comment that some people wait for the kitchen to be in to choose the tiles. At the time I kind of thought those people were nuts leaving such a big decision to be rushed and risk their tiles not being in stock but I didn’t say anything, So it turns out I didn’t have to stress out so much about the tiles because I had as long as I damn well pleased to get them sorted. And I would have known this if I’d just asked, or even better, finished reading the letter explaining the process instead of wandering off halfway through. Remember at school when you were doing those boring English Comprehension exercises and wondering whenever the hell you’d need that? Right now, is when.

Anyway, the floor guys came in the following Tuesday, then the tiler started on the Wednesday and then due to a comedy of errors and clashing schedules, he finally came back last Friday to finish the grouting. And lo the tiles look great, and now the floors are in I can say with confidence that the original tiles I chose would have been a MASSIVE mistake. So that makes me happier.

The guy still needs to install the kickboards now the floors are in, but otherwise it’s done and it’s beautiful, and I can now spend my spare time deciding the best place for every single item. Because obviously I never get to shift them round again later!

I am not someone with either the inclination or the ability to do a big reveal post with everything nicely staged, and while I’d love to rabbit on about the design changes and how much better it is, I’m probably not going to get round to it unless someone says they’re interested, so here’s a quick look at what we were working with in all its peachy beige melamine glory. It was fine, before my parrot Sheldon ate most of the insides of the cupboards, but it was tired.

Before

Sorry for the blurriness, but you probably don’t want to look too closely at this anyway. We’d already pulled up the orangey cork tiles at this point and it looks 100% better, so try to mentally add those back in. (I actually liked the cork tiles.)

And here’s the new gorgeousness. Doesn’t it look so much better with the oven moved? So much more space!

kitchenafter

*

My new cooktop has a massive wok burner in the middle. I was so excited about this: finally, I’ll be able to get my wok hot enough to do proper stirfries! And it does get very very hot, but the two things I’ve tried cooking on it (steaks on Saturday, and a stirfry tonight) I’ve managed to undercook the meat significantly. I mean, we like our steaks medium rare so they only need a couple of minutes each side, but these were practically blue. How did I manage to do that when I’m basically cooking on the surface of the sun?

I am monumentally embarrassed by this because I am a reasonable cook and don’t do this sort of thing. Luckily I was only cooking for Dave both times. At least with the steaks my excuse is that he normally does them, and I do not want that to change, so maybe I am just avoiding accidentally displaying competence.

*

In the meantime, Bianca is now four and a half years old and already tying knots around me with conversations. I love it. She’s always been a thinker, and the way she explains things to me, the gestures and expressions she uses, are priceless. The other night the three of us were at a restaurant which specialised in roast chickens, and in the open kitchen we could see a half dozen or so roasting on a spit. Bianca did not seem happy about this. She eats chicken but mostly as nuggets or skewers or kievs, so maybe it was the chickenness of the carcasses that upset her. Anyway she looked at them for a bit, and at me stuffing my half-chicken in my face, and then said, “I don’t think we should eat chickens like this anymore. Because if we eat all the chickens, where will we get any eggs?” All with the hands held upwards, and a puzzled look on her face.

Ah, B, if only you’d been there to explain this idea to the guys doing all the cod fishing in the North Sea. I said I didn’t think we could eat that many chickens and anyway these were probably the boy chickens who didn’t lay eggs. But she said, “but boy chickens are roosters! We need roosters too!”

But we’re still going to eat chook.

 

The absolute best one happened back when we were on holidays. We were at a restaurant at Disneyland, me and B and Dave and my mum, and I was laughing and Bianca said, “Mummy, you laugh like an evil person.”

 

BWAHAHAHA! Oh yes, look, she’s right! I told a girlfriend it was the best compliment ever, and Bianca of the flapping ears heard and asked me what is a compliment? So I explained it was when you said something nice about someone to make them feel good, like Bianca, you have beautiful hair, and she thought about that for a second and nodded, and then she said. “That wasn’t a compliment.”

 

Pwned.

The tile gods have thwarted me

Damn you, tile gods!

So Monday was awesome right up until it turned shit. The kitchen guys came about 8am and had the whole kitchen pulled out and stashed on our deck awaiting pickup by about one. Did I mention I’m excited? Because it’s exciting!

After they left we went to get the tiles. It took me a long time to find what I wanted. We’re going fairly simple with white cupboards and dark benches, so I wanted something nice for the backsplash. My tastes aren’t fancy; Pinterest is full of things I like – subway tiles, herringbone mosaics, that sort of thing. But I had the same problem with tiles as for every other bloody thing, namely stuff that can be bought for reasonable money in the US is either not available here or costs $$$$$$$.

(Also, do you know how hard it is to see anything on tile shop websites? Dear lord!)

After many hours I found one place which had a decent website showing interesting tiles, imported from Italy, and we found this:

normal_FSN03500_Blend_mix_cream_30x60 [Source]

  We took one home and abused it to see how it would cope as a backsplash.  Every time I walked past the kitchen and saw it propped up my heart beat faster. Cleanup was a breeze despite the textured surface. And only $44/sqm! I was so excited. And then Monday afternoon we went to pick them up—and they couldn’t find them in the warehouse. We went back inside and the guy who’d just processed our payment looked up and sort of gave us an apologetic shrug then said all he could do was refund us.

I tell you, I was NOT happy. I even started to cry in the car, I felt so frustrated. I’d found exactly what I wanted, I was so excited about them and now I had to find something else, and I had two days to do it in. I could see I was going to have to just pick something to settle with. But the thing that really frustrated me was the lack of customer service. This place had great tiles but their staff didn’t seem to give a crap about serving customers; I’d been there three times looking at different things and each time three or four of them had lounged around chatting even when I went to the counter. And this day? Things like this happen, I get that, but you know, I wasn’t buying them for fun! I had a project I needed them for, and what that guy should have done was get his arse out from behind the counter and say, “how about I help you find something else?” They had other stuff I liked, we could have made it work, but I was anxious and couldn’t do that on my own right then. But he didn’t give a shit, and that’s what made me cry.

(Well, that and my hormones, but that’s another story.)

So anyway. Things are looking better now. Yesterday I spent a couple of hours going around different tile shops looking for something – anything – I could have instead. I discovered I am completely invisible in just about all tile shops, which was really fucking frustrating.  Beaumont Tiles had a sales guy who could actually see me and a reasonable range (but nothing like what I’d wanted originally, alas) but he helped me out. I thought I’d settle for a white subway tile and interesting grout but ended up choosing something slightly bigger and grey that should work well. (I think. They keep changing in my mind and now I’m second guessing the benchtop too.) Meanwhile we’re on day 2 of the kitchen install and things are coming along – cupboards nearly all in, the electrician and the plumber are doing their stuff. If I’m lucky tomorrow will be the end of it and I can start putting everything back again!

But I still want my old tiles.

New kitchen!

It’s a curse – if things are quiet I’ve got nothing to write about, but when it’s busy I have no time to write… and it’s been busy!

I spent today emptying everything out of the kitchen cupboards because tomorrow we’re getting a new one! I’m so excited and also a bit annoyed, because if I’d really thought about it this could have been a great thing to blog along with. You know, something actually happening instead of all this navel gazing?

The fact is it’s been pretty quick and uneventful. But imagine some harp music and let everything go wavy as I take you back in time to the end of September and the start of it all….

We’d been thinking about doing the kitchen for ages, it was on a list of “like to do’s” when we moved in five years ago. It’s a 1990 treat of peach coloured melamine and brown appliances and was tired even before my parrot Sheldon chewed it to bits. Procrastination and indecision stopped us. How do we do it? Who do we choose? Do we put in an Ikea kitchen? Mmm, maybe not. I’ve always loved the usefulness of an Ikea kitchen (all those compartments! Things in drawers!) but my house is already full of Ikea stuff; I don’t want to look like a complete nutjob. Plus this is a nice house, or it could be; it deserves something nice.

(Don’t get huffy if you have an Ikea kitchen; like I said, I love them and I would have happily put one in our last place, but they don’t suit all houses and ours is one of those. It needs something towards the middle/upper end of the range.)

Anyway, a friend who’s done a few kitchens in his time recommended a place, so we went to look. There were so many options! I got confused by it all, and maybe a little freaked out by how much it might cost, and they were busy… we left.

That was about 18 months ago.

Fast forward to just after our holiday, and Dave’s decided we’re going to get on with it. Our renovator friend now had a new, better, recommendation and while we were waiting for that guy to return our call Dave said, let’s go look at Direct Kitchens. I don’t know how he chose them over the hundreds of other options — we have to drive past at least five others just to get there. We went in and this time I was a bit more prepared so when the saleslady asked if we’d like any help I said, “we want to put in a new kitchen and we like the look of that one.” She said, “Great! The first step is a consultation with a kitchen designer, how about tomorrow night?” And we said, “great!” And that was that. Who knew?

The designer was an older cockney guy who reminded me of Tom Baker. I loved him on sight. We chatted for ages, he asked us questions about how we used the kitchen and what bugged us about the current one, talked us out of some of the fancier inside-cupboard options, and showed us pictures of door styles and finishes. I showed him some stuff from Pinterest. Two days later he came back with a finished design; we changed maybe two things, and that was it.

The way Direct Kitchens do it is they make bespoke cabinets in their factory with benchtops from elsewhere, and then they project manage the entire install from pulling out the old kitchen to plumbing electrics and tiling at the end. You can use your own tradies if you want, and they’ll coordinate them, but they can do it all. The only thing not included in the quote is the appliances which we bought separately. We got the quote, talked about it, and pulled the trigger.

(In the meantime, our friend’s guy got back to us. His quote for the cabinetry was a bit cheaper, but it didn’t include the tradesmen which we’d have to hire and coordinate separately. In the end we went for the simplicity of the project-managed one. Dave’s away with work too much at the moment, we haven’t got the capacity to organise it ourselves.)

[back to present day]

After that, it was a pretty simple thing. We chose cupboard colours and door styles from a set, a benchtop (we’re going with laminate), and handles from the standard range. We bought appliances. The only thing that took a bit of time was choosing the backsplash tile, but we got there and will pick it up tomorrow. Oh and I started decluttering the cupboards which was a massive help because you never realise how much crap you have in the kitchen until you try to stash it elsewhere in your house…

kitchen2

I’m so excited!

 

Better together

My man is back! My man is back! Woo to the hoo, he’s back!

We went out to dinner tonight, I may have had a little bit of wine (two thirds of a bottle to be precish), and we had such a good night. Giggling like schoolkids, doubling one another’s entendre, laughing so hard… it’s the closes we’ve been to the old us in a long time. Whether it was the lovely Margaret River sangiovese, or we’re child free until tomorrow, or that we’re both just so glad he’s back — I don’t care. I don’t want to dissect it. It just felt good.

(And the wine was awesome, and the food divine.)

You know what? From when B was a little baby, I thought about leaving. Running away, leaving them, sumetimes even hurting myself in the baddest of times. Motherhood did not cone naturally to me; I felt trapped and I wanted out. Then I got diagnosed and some antidepressants and it was better, but I still harboured resentment: of what I’d given up, of what we’d lost, whatever… my default reaction, whenever we had an argument was to think about leaving, to think about the out. The intimacy’s gone, we’re gone. We never snuggle on the couch together of an evening, or even talk anymore unless it’s about B or whose day was harder. I’m just a nanny and a housekeeper, I come somewhere down the bottom of the list after the bike and the bird and the friends and the kid. Why are we still together?

But somewhere in the last year, it’s changed. I’ve realised we’re better together. We still have fun. We might not be on the same couch at night but we’re still heckling TV. And we only talk about the birds and Bianca so much because they’re so damn funny. There’s been extra pressure these past few years but it’s coming to an end. B’s no longer a baby, she’s a girl. She’s going to school next year! And nights like tonight prove that we’re still here, we just maybe need to work on it a bit. It’s more than just settling with one another because the alternative is too hard. He’s my man, I’m his girl. We’re a couple, a unit. A family. It’s where we’re meant to be.

And now, a new chapter of life is about to start. We’ve got some really big fun adventures coming up. Everything’s going to change, and I’m glad we’re doing it together.

Chatterbox

This is one of my favorite quotes ever, from Douglas Adams’s Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency:

“The man just liked to talk,” he would later tell the police. “Man, I could have walked away to the toilet for ten minutes and he would’ve told it to the till… Yeah, I’m sure that’s him,” he would add when shown a picture of Gordon Way. “I only wasn’t sure at first because in the picture he’s got his mouth closed.”

And boy, can I identify with it…

Dave’s away again for two weeks and as ever I’ve started off with grand ideas of getting so many projects done, but after just a few days everything’s devolved into chaos. I swear if I was a single parent I’d end up on Hoarders. I mean, without Dave around I can’t even be bothered closing cupboard doors. Everything is overwhelming, everything is too hard.

I don’t understand it. I love Dave, he’s an awesome husband and father, but let’s face it, I do most of the housework and daily chores around here, so his absence should not be generating that much more work. How can it get so bad when he’s gone? How can I be so bad at this?

Well, I might have worked it out.

On Sunday morning, I woke up filled with optimism and determination, and actually managed to tidy up a bit and put a load of washing on. (I am usually right on top of the washing, one thing Flylady has managed to instill in me, but right now the washing is right on top of me.) As a reward, I decided to spend some time on a princess dress I’m sewing for Bianca, while she sat next to me alternately making a mess with beads and cutting a scrap of fabric into atoms. It should have been a really relaxing time right? Pinning and tacking and making something with my hands. A treat; I always feel better afterwards. But it wasn’t relaxing and I didn’t feel better, and I think I know why everything goes pearshaped when Dave isn’t around.

It’s B. She never shuts up. “I’m cutting this up. Do you see mum? Does it look good? Look at me! Look at me with your eyes. I want to help you with that. Can I cut it? Now look! I’m doing this!” jabberjabberjabberjabberjabberjabberjabber!!!!!

Look, she’s four. She’s supposed to talk all the time! I don’t expect her to stop; I love that she’s telling me stuff. But, I am an introvert who needs quiet time in my own head with my own thoughts, and when Dave’s here sometimes she’s talking to him and I can just… tune it out. But I can’t do that now. I always have to have an ear out, just in case. And I am fucking exhausted because of it!

I’m actually giggling at myself right now. This is quite the insight for me; everything makes SO MUCH MORE SENSE now. Of course I’m not coping! Now I need to use this information to look after myself. No more mindless evenings watching tv and playing on my phone once B’s in bed. Maybe that’s when I should try to do the sewing. And maybe also do the dishes and close all the cupboard doors. I’ve got four days to sort out this house and finish my projects before Dave comes home.

Reboot

For July and most of August, we were on holiday. We had a couple of days in Singapore (not “the real Singapore” as Bianca calls where we were last time, just Sentosa Island), then almost two weeks in the north of England for the start of the Tour de France and to visit family. Next to Holland, where I have relatives and where mum was conveniently also visiting, then we left Bianca with them for a week while we joined an amazing cycling/gourmet tour following the last week of the Tour de France. (The cycling was for Dave, his 40th birthday wish to ride up crazy mountains, but the gourmet was for both of us.) Then mum and B met us in Paris and we had a couple of days at Disneyland Paris before another week at a friend’s place in Switzerland, then finally in London for the last ten days.

Whew!

The holiday was everything we hoped it would be, and a revelation. I spent lots of time thinking about how I want my life to be. Like cooking, I want to cook delicious, healthy, foody meals. And retain a sense of adventure. When we were staying places with beautiful gardens, I wanted to learn to make one too. And in Holland I revelled in my family there (they are, seriously, awesome people) and wanted to stay there always.

Now “normality” is back, arms outspread, trying to engulf me in a bear hug of habits. I have to work to retain that feeling of anything is possible. Try to remember what it was like to drive through Yorkshire or stand on a mountain or wander through a little village in Bordeaux and think, I could live here for a year, easily…

One of the big changes I want to make is this blog. It needs to be. I have been blogging in one form or another since 2001; hard to believe isn’t it? My life grew, changed, and this was one of the things lost when I became a mother. This is not anyone’s fault but my own. None of it is. I made the new rules and left all the fun stuff behind. It is time to change that!

I made a mistake trying to give the blog a theme. Blogs need themes now, right? You’re either décor, DIY, diet, fashion, finances, self improvement. Well I’m sorry but I am all of those things. I can’t narrow it down. I don’t want to pigeonhole myself. I want to write about me, my life. Isn’t that the bet theme to have? So there it is. You won’t find a more authoritative source on the interwebs anyway.

I did think about a new name, a new start. Not My Mother was for when I was supposed to be concentrating on self improvement. But really it seems as god as anything else. Maybe it’s really “not my mother” — as in, my identity is not as someone’s mum. Okay, that’s a bit of a stretch. But I’m not going to do the online equivalent of my teenage self, abandoning my old neglected diary and starting a whole fresh new one for a new start.

In summary: spring is here, Europe is awesome, and I am back.