Nostalgia


Wow, just been reading some of my old rants here, after linking it to my new domain! Some good and some not so good posts made…

I’m now having thoughts about blogging again, but not yet sure if

a) it’s a good idea &

b) what on earth do I blog about now…?

Any ideas are more than welcome 😉

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A year ago today…


24 October 2014

I have now been back (and survived) in the UK for a full year – bravo! The significance of this has led me to write another blog, and review life in a country I know only too well.

The first thing that springs to mind is how easy it is to communicate again, without worrying about the whole not being understood properly. However, you wouldn’t think it when I can hear up to 3 other languages on my short walk into the town centre. I often wonder how life is for those coming here now and obviously struggle with the English language, and ultimately finding work – I can sympathise there. I have noticed more of a lack of tolerance towards foreigners in the UK than I remember – just not sure how much of a mess the immigration system was/is but it is now a key topic in the political arena. As for politics – not going there, I am completely on the fence and wouldn’t dare to guess which way I am going to vote (for all the good that does). But hey! At least I can vote again!!!

In hindsight, I definitely should have skipped straight past the brief spell in the Netherlands, before returning to the UK – just jaded by a bad experience (not saying that NL is not bad for others over there). It just wasn’t right for me I guess, or the right
time. But whether or not I have come back to the right place in England – well, that’s… erm… debatable. This place also has it’s pros and cons, jury is out on this one for now. I guess I’ll make a judgement call on that, once I’ve managed to stick it out for a little longer. I am getting tired (and worried) about not finding anywhere that really feels like home to me. However, I do still melt when I hear anyone who sounds remotely like they are from the north east of England (due to late father’s side of the family I guess).

I’ve not managed to tour the sites much since my return. Wales is next on one of my ‘away days’ – it’s too easy to get to for me to refuse really. I doubt I’ll be climbing Mount Snowdon (1,085 metres above sea level) this year – but am up for it in 2015! I did manage the local one (Wrekin – 407 metres) this year, and did in about 35 minutes – it’s a small start…

It is nice to slip back into the occasional pub visits – and see some live bands. I still don’t have a proper local but the weatherspoons pub is just a 15-20 minute walk away (if I’m feeling sociable), and cheap as chips…

Finding work here is tougher than it has ever been. I guess I am doing ok and working towards a few qualifications while I work at the Council. However, the amount of rejections I’ve had has been a record high. This may be partly down to being overseas
for a good chunk of time, or may be age related, or just bad luck – just hoping that it gets easier now I have a foot on the ladder again. I am finding that office life is much not as much fun any more – the level of office politics and unfriendliness is quite annoying, not to mention the amount of ‘dead wood’ I’d be happy to see the back of. Half of me is a bit defeated and jaded, sometimes wonder if I am too old to start over again. On the other hand, I love actually having a job to go to and can’t imagine going through the nightmare of the benefit system ever again – even if it was for a short spell. It was hell! I have no idea how long term unemployed people manage to bounce back from that – it’s demoralising, depressing, frustrating and very demeaning. There is definitely more of a stigma attached to being out of work than there was in Denmark, welcome back to the materialistic class system…

I still hate shopping more than ever (for food), but glad about the huge range of choices we have over here. As far as I’m concerned the rest of Europe pales in comparison there. I’ll just have to switch to ordering online, to save time. Anyway, you’d think that more healthy choices and lifestyle would make a difference to my health – try telling that to my body. Apparently it all has little or no difference to my blasted blood pressure. C’est la vie. Personally, I blame it on the one occasion I made ‘frikadellas’ here – they are the ones guilty of sabotaging my quest for a fit and healthy body, not me…. maybe the choice of
deserts and copious amounts of cadbury’s chocolate on offer don’t help… 😉

Having to resort back to the youthful days of sharing a house has brought about it’s fair share of fun and games – I don’t even want to think about writing all the drama up here. However, the house is now reasonably sane and I have an ok bunch of housemates – even if they are all men (from France, Scotland and England). I do miss the luxury of my own place – but that will come in time… Plus, I also think I’d feel far too alone in my own place just yet anyway.

I’m not sure if this is universal or just my age – but I am finding people these days very annoying and/or rude. It’s that bad that I notice and really appreciate the occasional acts of warmth and kindness. Everyone just seems to want to upset everyone they meet… Will have to monitor this further – or just go home each day, and shut the world out until I see it becoming a little more civil.

So, do I miss Denmark? (imagine the almighty drum roll here)

Well, I miss some of the people over there, the crazy drinking nights, the big hugs (which are non existent back here), the flat cycle paths everywhere, the simplicity of life + the lack of spam emails, text messages and junk mail (in comparison to here) and just being different was kinda fun. So I guess I miss DK a little sometimes. But the grass is always greener – and it is over here (probably due to the amount of high rainfall) 😛 It’s a shame I can’t take the good parts of both countries, bin the crap and put them back together and form another country – and call it Dangland. And, we could all speak Danglish! Nu, det er a fantastisk idea! (Imagination now going wild about the whole concept!)

Not sure when or if I will blog again – though I have noticed that despite lack of new content I still get hits… Surprisingly, it’s the Danish language tabs that are proving popular – maybe I should consider adding more there…one day.

Anyway, vi ses, over and out, au revoir, auf wiedersehen, ciao, tot ziens, hasta la vista!

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Danish giraffes – are they the unhappiest in world right now?


I have not written for quite some time now… But this week a piece of news was brought to my attention and I felt morally obliged to report it here, as opposed to unreliable websites, who seem to think that blocking the views of the public is quite alright… Yes Trip Advisor – I’m talking about you! More of that after the crux of the story here.

I do apologise in advance to those of you who are going to find this post offensive, sad or ‘not your bag’ – and expect me to write more of a fun update, after neglecting this blog site for quite a while.  I may try and begin to post more soon, depending on any significant changes/updates here.  But, for now…

Location: Copenhagen Zoo

Subject: Marius the innocent, healthy, young giraffe

MariusApparently, this poor giraffe was fed some “healthy” rye bread and then shortly afterwards, got shot (with a bolt gun). The carcass was then skinned/dissected/cut up and fed to the lions! And, get this – in front of visitors (including very young children) and all whilst being streamed via live footage – by Ekstra Bladet, a Danish newspaper.

Reason:  because of European laws on inbreeding!

Surely there was a way of ensuring that the giraffe could not breed in future, resolving the existing over-represented giraffe genes. And… why let this giraffe be born in the first place, if it’s fate was doomed from the start?  Also, other zoos had offered to take on this giraffe, including the Yorkshire Wildlife Park here in the UK! 

Thousands of people (20,000+) signed a petition to save Marius – this campaign obviously fell on very deaf ears.  Obviously the zoo had their own ideas and thought the rest of the world wouldn’t notice!

However, it’s not bad enough that the reason given was lame. This tragedy was turned into a ‘crowd puller’, and who knows why children were allowed to bear witness to this (via parental consent)! Workers wore green rubber gloves and carried out the dissection, while an announcer guided the visitors through the whole process.

Quote from the Zoo Spokesman (Stenbaek Bro):-

“I’m actually proud because I think we have given children a huge understanding of the anatomy of a giraffe that they wouldn’t have had from watching a giraffe in a photo,”

I’d be surprised if these children were not a) traumatised by the whole event, or b) led to believe that it’s ok for animals to be treated in this disgusting way.

Quotes from the Zoo Director (Bengt Holst) to Danish TV2 include:

“We know we are doing the right thing,”

“The many reactions don’t change our attitude to what we do. It’s very important to us that we take responsibility throughout. We need to have as healthy a stock as possible so we avoid inbreeding.”

Yeah, because you really ruled out all the options sensibly before butchering a healthy animal…

And now… for further outrage… Many people chose to update the Trip Advisor website, about the zoo. It seems that all the comments relating to this travesty have been removed! The reviews painted the zoo in a bad light, obviously. But, I am stunned at this website – isn’t it supposed to show (in my mind and correct me if I am wrong here), impartial opinions of those who have been to the zoo and have an opinion about the location. So, now it looks as though all is ‘hunky dory’ and/or ‘fine and dandy’ with the place. Well, screw you Trip Advisor – I’ll find my own way of spreading my opinions in future. Their ‘allowable’ or ‘acceptable’ reviews can be found here.

Useful websites that have also appeared, include:

BBC coverage of the story
Close Copenhagen Zoo  – FB site with updates about the sad affair
Sign the petition  – Over 3.5k signatures so far!

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When the chips are down, be lucky if you’re not on your own…


I guess I could write a post of doom and gloom with the joys I am experiencing in life right now.  However, I’ve decided to jolly it up a bit and spit in the face of adversity.  There are a few aspects of life which are quite challenging right now, but lets deal with the art of job hunting and the challenges of dealing with the wonderful staff of Jobcentre Plus…

Bright sideI have finally been told that I am entitled to receive Job Seekers Allowance…  Let me hear a whoop whoop!  Though, they never bothered to send a letter of confirmation :O  I figure that I am doing more for my money than if I’d actually been at work (full time).  Ok, maybe a slight exageration there but not much…  I have had up to 4 rejections so far, and am already suffering from ‘Rejection Shock Syndrome’.  How dare they turn me down! :/

Moving onto the fiasco that seems to be the staff…  Despite calling them and seeing them several times now, they failed to act on my new bank account information, when I updated them.  Now bear in mind that you are bound by the rules to tell them everything (insert recorded message about failing to inform them of any new personal information) or fear THE SANCTIONS, they are not very efficient on their end of the bargain at updating their records.

help-sinking

Hence, my first payment has been sent to an unopened/fake bank account and will take yet another week to sort itself out.  I am about to summon a ‘Crossroads Demon’ (similar to the boys from Supernatural) and sell my soul to have an enjoyable 10 years of life, without cashflow problems.  But I fear my soul has been kidnapped by the ‘system’ over here, or I am just sinking and soon there will be no soul left.

Today was my first ‘real’ Job Seeker interview appointment. I was enlightened by a few things:-

  • It is not necessary to write up the pages of Jobsearch Records, if I have been (naturally) using the electronic Universal Jobmatch portal.
  • There are a level of tasks set and agreed by the adviser.  However, I am already doing more than what is expected of me! :O
  • The only available (free) training on offer was not relevant as I am “too self sufficient” and the courses they have on offer include training on how to use a printer, as one example….
  • If I transfer to another town, I need to fix up an appointment on arrival and go through a ‘transfer interview’.
  • The adviser calls to update you on jobs he/she deems appropriate and asks you to apply (happened to me today).

Common-Job-Interview-Questions-Funny-CartoonAt the interview, I did point out that TCAT (Telford College of Art and Technology) were trying to set up an intensive course in retail, for unemployed people (to give them some form of experience in the field and a few recognised apprenticeship qualifications). They just need the financial backing of the Jobcentre.  However, they are apparently being held back by Jobcentre demands.  It seems ‘proper’ work experience and a guaranteed job interview is a must if this training is to take place, before the Jobcentre will support it.  Ironic that establishments are trying to help but are banging their heads against a bit of a wall…

So anyway, now I am armed with all relevant information but will have to suffer their condescending, ineptitude for a little while longer, just not too long hopefully…

I am lucky that I have the support and help from a handful of friends.  There are many times when dark, heavy and overwhelming loneliness kicks me in the gut, but then I get a few words from those who do care, and it makes a big difference.

I guess there is still hope and it’s just a matter of time before I land on my feet again.  I’m still in the most convenient country for that to become a reality, for me.  But the feeling I had in DK of being in the wrong country, is now happening here – especially as a chunk of my support network are based in both Denmark and the Netherlands.  I do miss you guys and gals overseas and am glad I met you.

miss you

So to those of you who think I was stupid to flee the country and leave ‘Great’ Britain behind or say “W(what)TF”, I say “W(why)TF not”.  I have experienced an alternative life (also had the best toyboy in DK that a woman could ask for) and think the UK can learn a little from our neighbours.  The neighbours could also learn a little (or more) too tbh, in different ways…  But, I have met some like minded people from many different places and won’t forget them – if only getting a job abroad had been easier…  It may have dented my career progress a little but I don’t regret trying it out anyway, and I like to think I can still get back into the swing of things, eventually, or die trying at least…  😉

And, to those of you still out there, try and avoid the nightmare of all of this if/when you return ‘home’.

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Welcome to the fsking concrete jungle (UK)!


Aaaaargh!

Aaaaargh!

  • Jobs applied for today: None!
  • My petulance level: v high
  • Bottles of wine consumed: Currently in progress…
  • Time contemplating travel v staying in the UK: a lot!
  • Chocolate consumed: 1 kitkat, so far…
  • Blood pressure: v high!

Where to start, hmmm, I know – JSA (Job Seekers Allowance) and the lack of help settling back into the UK versus my own performance and effort so far…..

Things to bear in mind:

  1. I have no real history of claiming any form of help from the government.
  2. Have worked over 90% of my working life doing just that – working!
  3. Just got back from abroad after being away for 3 years and 7 months.
  4. My circle / network of support is fairly limited as a result of being away for said period.

So, not yet been back for 2 whole weeks and already wondering if I can call this part of the world ‘home’.

Lets start with my own progress so far….

  • Attended 1 (probably unsuccessful) interview, after gaining a very useful and resourceful contact from TCAT (Telford College of Art and Technology).
  • Recruitment Agencies registered with is up to about 5 or 6 now, and counting…
  • Positions applied for are at least in the double figures now.
  •  Time spent filling in Job Centre forms and updating the new (compulsory) ‘Universal Jobmatch’ system is countless and am not going to even try keeping score there.
  • Visits to the Job Centre – 3… so far…
  • UK Bank account finally obtained (major headache obtaining that with new legislation), doctor visited once (for blood pressure probs), library membership obtained (for computer/printer usage mostly, but that seems to be a hassle to book anyway) and housing advice sought – not very helpful though and a little bit pointless, as my current state of housing is not deemed bad/desperate enough… (sharing a one bedroom flat with a friend and couch surfing)

OK, so compare that to the hassle I’ve had trying to claim some/any level of support from the government (Job Centre)…

First trip was a more in depth interview, due to time spent away from ‘home’.

Second trip involved a ‘group information session’ and lasted all of 10-15 minutes, learnt nothing and given a load of handouts.  Pretty pointless and perfunctory.

Third trip, and this is the killer!  This one was called the ‘Compliance Office Meeting‘!  I have never been so insulted and demeaned, ever.  But I do know 3 or 4 different routes to their office now 😉

Anyway, I spent the night googling what this was all about and most of the web sites were not comforting.  Apparently, some refer to these meetings as Benefit Fraud Inspection interviews! It turns out that there was an element of mis-trust over my current (temporary) living conditions…  They are refusing to help financially until they are satisfied with the information received today – nearly 2 weeks after requesting said help…

Due to the fact that I am claiming ‘income based’ or ‘means tested’ JSA (because I wasn’t able to pay National Insurance Contributions from abroad) they wanted to establish how much financial help I am getting, without their help and question my relationship with my friend, who has only put me up suddenly and temporarily/until I can find my own feet (after being away for so long), before deciding if I have any form of eligibility.

The questions were very direct, intrusive and very irrelevant (in my opinion).  I mean what does it matter what we do when/if we are sitting in the lounge together (him studying mostly and me reading), if we have mutual friends or how ‘others’ see us???  The level of details required were quite astonishing!  The fact that I have had a bit of cash and managed to support myself since I returned is not good enough apparently (and thank goodness another very dear friend provided a small loan which has helped out a lot).  I have also now had to use spare cash, reserved for a bill in the Netherlands – so that bill is going to be delayed 😦 Are they waiting for me to be on the street before showing any form of support? :O

I am just flabbergasted at the cheek of it all.  I appreciate that there is a lot of fraudulent stuff going on in the country, but to think that someone who barely asks for help from family (let alone anyone outside it) and has an ok / impressive work history would suddenly become a benefit cheat is incomprehensible! Welcome fsking home indeed!  And all this is while I am expected to both find my own place and a job, by their rules.  I am now so demoralised and morally outraged.

I now have to call their office tomorrow to see if they have made a decision “in my favour” :O  Oh, and I have to see them next week too.  I am spending more time talking / visiting them / using the stupid system than actually doing what I need to be doing.  Do they think I choose to live this way?  This is all circumstantial and not meant to be long lasting :/

Some may say that I’ve made my own bed etc – but I haven’t done anything wrong, just tried to live a life the way I preferred.  And, it was never my intention to come back to the UK and end up in ‘shit creek, without a paddle’.

So, I have written the day off and am finding comfort and solace in a bottle, with some comforting music.  After all the hard work I’ve put in since arriving back, such a short time ago, I have decided that enough is enough and need to kick back, instead of being hard on myself and giving it all ‘above and beyond the call of duty’!  I have tried being the model citizen, struggling quietly and patiently, taking it all in and doing it all by the book. However, it’s not easy to re-adjust to such a harsh reality in your own country, and I am bitterly disappointed with it so far.  I now need to try and ensure my feet don’t start wanting to travel away from it again… as am just getting too old for that.

UPDATE:

They are unable to state whether I am eligible for JSA, still.  Apparently, they have up to 14 working days from the date of claim just to make that decision, before even beginning to process any payments.  Until then, there is no help!

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UK is where the heart is – currently ;)


As per popular request, just another blog… This time from the piece of the world called
‘home’.

It’s been less than a week back in the old UK and am fighting new battles and facing new
challenges already. Although, knowing the lingo makes life’s issues so much easier and quicker to deal with. I am finding my voice again and my ‘state of independence’ is returning, albeit slowly after the aftermath of the Netherlands. I know, I never listen (for those of you who warned me against hopping over to another country, not knowing the Dutchies quite well enough and surrounding myself with similar setbacks and conditions – after trying desperately hard in Denmark…). “I tried” and “I am insanely stubborn” should be etched on my gravestone!

Anyway, I am going to counter my opinion of myself as stupid, headstrong, crazy and a little on the reckless side with the notion that at least I experienced more, learnt more, am slightly brave, willing to take a big challenge (or risk) and have lived a little more adventurously. I guess I have more/stronger opinions about additional parts of Europe now too – so not all bad…

Returning to the UK after 3 years & 7 months is not a task to take lightly. The trials and
tribulations start all over again, but at least I can handle them (on my own), in my mother
tongue. The biggest hurdle so far has been obtaining a current bank account. So much identity needed now, and without the proof of address (in the shape of documents that are not quick to get hold of, unless you drive and have updated your license) you are screwed! There is possibly one bank, willing to accept my passport only as proof enough, so my choices and preferences have been severly affected, in the short term. If I can offer any advice for others travelling for a year or more – keep a UK account open!

Applying for work is soooo much easier now! The restrictions of 2nd and 3rd or 4th languages is no longer a hindrance, and has opened up many more opportunities. It is so good to be able to apply for a few jobs (on a lazy day), rather than maybe 1 a week. Of course, it’s too early to predict how positive and successful this is going to be, but I am more optimistic.

Finding a place of your own is very tough. Income and savings don’t appear overnight and living like a student is not ideal, at my age… I guess most sensible people would have made a few investments before jetting off for the forseeable! Also, now realise that it is important to make sure you stay in touch with friends/family while globe trotting – saves having to re-build lots of broken bridges again if you need their help in future. It is easy to leave it all
behind and not look back too much but it will bite you in the bum if you lose track of those you carelessly leave behind. Social networking helps but still needs a bit more of an effort than I put in. In my shabby defense, the plan was potentially never to return to the UK, and I did need to spend time meeting and trying to maintain new friends abroad.

Being interviewed at the Jobcentre here takes twice as long as it should – extra questions and forms have to be completed because you had the cheek to leave and stay away for a while. Though, I was lucky(ish) – they seemed partly interested in my travel experience, which is nice to talk about. I’m just not sure what the whole Jobcentre thing was like before I left, they seem keen on monitoring your activities via an online government web portal tool. Hopefully they won’t need to track my progress for too long, it has an element of Big Brother about it… 😉

I have already picked up on a big difference in the healthcare system, maybe I’m a little harsh and quick to judge here but… I can’t help but notice the difference from a general public funded one (here), to both a private/compulsory one (Netherlands) and a highly taxed public system (Denmark). I was a little depressed at the sight of the local medical practice, when registering. It may just be that I picked the wrong one here and was lucky abroad – but it was shockingly poor in comparison.

There are lots of little changes here to take in and am quickly digesting them all. The one
thing I am soooo happy about is being able to talk without thinking about a 2nd language. I
feel much better about approaching people again and not feeling guilty about my lack of foreign language skills is a huge, lifted weight off my shoulders. At times I broke out in cold sweats and anxiety attacks when I knew I had to converse with non UK citizens. I am also feeling as though I am back in a more polite atmosphere, so far. I guess you have to allow for different parts of the UK, not sure we’re all friendly. But, the bluntness and directness I experienced in both parts of Denmark and the Netherlands is not on display as much here. Don’t get me wrong, I do like people to say what they mean – but think there is no harm dressing it up a bit, sometimes.

On a personal level, it’s so nice to be a single girl again. I finally feel as though I am happy to be alone and don’t feel the need to fill any gaps/holes in that department. Whilst being with a man is good for many reasons, being alone feels like pure freedom and I intend to
enjoy it, for a while at least! I haven’t quite ruled a relationship out forever, but am going
to be very fussy about any future, potential partner. My specification list just doubled, and
am ok if I don’t meet the requirements of the guys (and end up on the proverbial ‘scrapheap’).

I do think I’d like to retain a basic understanding of the Danish language. It would be a shame to forget what I did learn. Not sure if it’s going to be possible or useful but would be fun to use it as a tourist in future. At least I won’t feel bullied or pressured into it out of
necessity and it would seem more about having fun with it now. It will never sound as sassy as French though, or as classy as good old English 😛

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Who says you can’t go home?


Here I go again on my own,

Going down the only road I’ve ever known,

Like a drifter I was born to walk alone.

(Whitesnake)

Ok, ok, this blog has suffered severe neglect lately – so I’m re-igniting it. for quite possibly my final post.

Things didn’t exactly go the way I wanted them to in the Netherlands, so yet another door closes and the journey ‘home’ begins…  At least the formalities of leaving here are a little less complicated than arriving here 😛

Destination: Telford, Shropshire, UK
ETA: Week commencing 21st October 2013

This is not an easy option / way out. Going back to the UK is both exciting and scary. So much will have changed over there, and the starting place was not a straightforward decision to make either – so many places with so many familiar faces… Intial help / advice is being accepted by those I’ve approached so far… I’m just glad I have some people over there that I can count on, even after all this absent time – it’s quite humbling. There are also those who have offered their help, without any prompt – guess I’m not such a bad person :O I will always be thankful and appreciate all their support.

I think the excitement element of my return would be due to missing so many things – off the top of my head: standard fish & chips, meat pies, walkers crsips, the colloquial accents (and understanding them), the vast amount of humour, atmospheric football environments (pubs) and the music scene!

The scary flip side – catching up with everything (feels like mainland Europe is slightly behind… /screams for the tardis), the level of crime (seems a little higher), the confusion of left / right side roads and rush hour(s), and being accepted (or not) by old and new friends / employers.

I do have a lot of re-building to do and lots of work to get myself back on the right tracks again. Challenge accepted! (as Barney Stinson would say). Joking aside – it’s going to be tough. I need to believe in my abilities and strengths again and get back to business in my daily working life, which potentially means going back to the study books, training my head into thinking that I am still useful and preparing to work my way up from the depths / bottom of the pit again. 3.5 years is a long time to make up for…

What the UK government thinks about returning expats is unknown yet, though I think that there may be more formalities than I originally thought. Going through the process of establishing roots, proving my intentions to stay put for a while and doing the things we take for granted normally (finding a GP / dentist, sorting out the complexities of the multitude of mobile services / providers, completing tax forms, obtaining a bank account
etc) are all high on the to do list, in addition to finding an interim job.

I can say that I am fortunate to have had the chance to taste life in both Denmark and the Netherlands – not always my cup of tea really but I can think of worse places to be 😉  I will take away some good memories and incorporate some of the cool(er) cultural traditions into my life, in some way, back home. I will also keep in touch with many of the people I have met on my travels (some of whom I will miss dearly). I’ll happily welcome them over to the UK, once I finally sort myself out.

I do know that I am a complete disaster at relationships (even worse than our sweet Bridget Jones), and am issuing a warning out there to all men (and women for that matter) – “Stay away from this silly girl! She’s strictly off limits and close to signing up to a nunnery – to be on the safe side.” Though, nuns do have an element of kinkiness to them, that outfit they wear has potential to look somewhat slutty… /slap my face, blame someone else and forget I said that! I’ll be fine, with my bad taste in music / horror films, pc gaming and oodles of wine etc… 😉

I don’t anticipate living abroad again, but will always have a bit of a travel bug – so may use this site to blog about places further afield in future…  For now, toodle-pips 😉

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