- Exciting baby news: One of my closest friends (I'll call her the "Animal Lover")announced last week that she was expecting her first baby, who's due in late February/early March. It was a lovely surprise and I'm overjoyed for both her and her boyfriend ("The Biker"). I just can't wait until there's another baby in the group to spoil!
- Housewarming fun: In keeping with the major life changes theme, two of my friends (The Comedian and The Enigma) have recently bought their first home together and a couple of Saturdays ago, I spent the evening at their housewarming barbecue. It was just a wonderful night filled with fabulous food (including more crisps on one table than I'd ever seen before!), random conversations and Kinect fun and I hope that we'll be able to do it all over again very soon.
- Adding another recipe to my tried and tested favourites: Unsure of what to give the friends mentioned above as a housewarming present (they'd already been living together previously and I had no idea of what they wanted/needed), I decided to bake something and buy a pretty tin to put it in. My flavour of choice was chocolate...I didn't actually know what the couple liked, but reasoned that everyone loves chocolate! My first thought was brownies, but having never made them before, I decided not to risk an untested recipe. Then I remembered the chocolate cake recipe from the Australian Women's Weekly Complete Book of Cupcakes and Baking (I've tried and failed to find a link to this book on the net...if you want this recipe, let me know and I'll post it on here/email you) and I was pretty sure I was on to a winner. First off, my sister had made it before for a friend who had said it was gorgeous and secondly, all the recipes in the book are triple tested, so are pretty much guaranteed to work :-). And work it did...I divided the mixture into bun cases so I would have some cakes for my friends and some for home, and they were enjoyed by all! My mum said they were one of the best things I'd ever made, a friend of a friend said they were fantastic and I received a lovely text off the Enigma the next day saying how much she and her fiancé the Comedian had enjoyed them. I just love baking and it makes me even happier when people close to me can enjoy it too :-)
- Fantastic friends on Facebook: Last week I received some very good news of my own and when I shared it on Facebook, I was overwhelmed with the support and good wishes I received from my friends. From people of my own age, but also of my parents' generation. From friends who I had seen just the day before, to those who I hadn't seen for years. From old school friends to people I've met much more recently. The congratulations flooded in from all directions, and to say I was touched was an understatement. Sometimes when I'm feeling low I tell myself that no-one cares about me or takes notice of what I have to say, but I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that that's not true. I am loved and cared about more than I've ever realised and that makes me feel incredibly thankful.
And now on to my big news of the last couple of weeks:
I have a new job!! Remember my last post where I alluded to some big changes that might be happening in my work life? Well, it turns out that it was more relevant than I ever thought possible. The day after publishing that post, I received a text from a major banking group that I had previously done an online application for asking me to call their recruitment centre for a telephone interview. I did so and answered 3 mental arithmetic questions and a couple of competency based questions, as well as discussing my recent work history with a very nice man, and was pleased when he announced that I had made it through to the next stage aka the face to face interview, which I booked for last Wednesday. I spent quite a bit of time preparing for the interview and felt I did OK. I wasn't, however, overly confident, partly because I've stumbled at this stage so many times before and partly because I kept analysing my responses to the questions over and over and came up with more and more things I felt I could have done better. I'd been told that it could take up to 10 working days to be informed of the outcome and so I settled down to a long wait for the seemingly inevitable. Imagine my surprise then when I received a phone call from the company explaining that they had managed to get things fast tracked through HR and they were pleased to tell me that I'd been successful!! I won't go into too many details here, as I really feel that the job deserves a post of its own, but I can tell you I'm going to be starting on 19th September, and am really looking forward to this new challenge!! :-)
- Riots in Greater Manchester (as well as nationwide): Last week there was some of the worst rioting and looting that has ever been seen in England and whilst it was mainly centred around London, on Tuesday last week it also hit Salford and Manchester city centre, only a matter of miles from where I live. The pictures on the TV and news feeds on the internet didn't seem quite real and I was shocked at some of the stories I was reading. An Oxfam shop being looted. A Miss Selfridge shop and a housing office being set on fire. People smashing windows and forcing shutters. None of it really hit home until the next day when I was walking in the centre of town and saw the damage with my own eyes. I just couldn't believe that people could do that to their own city. But as in all of the other places affected by last week's unrest, the community has pulled together and become stronger as a result. On Wednesday morning, for example, as I walked through town after my interview I saw groups of young people wearing protective gloves and armed with rubbish bags all ready to part in the clear up. And today, whilst my sister Amy and I were shopping in Manchester we saw this:
Image taken from here
It's the Manchester Peace Wall, and in the few days since this photo was taken, it's become absolutely filled with post-it notes expressing people's love for the city as well as disgust at the looters and their actions. Amy and I both wrote our own notes and stuck them on the wall, and I just feel really privileged to contribute to such a powerful representation of Manchester's spirit.
- Unexpected work developments and lack of money: News of my new job couldn't have come at a better time as, due to lack of funding, I had to finish my previous job a few weeks earlier than anticipated. I'm going to really have to tighten my belt over the next couple of months or so, and when I consider the number of friends' birthdays that are coming up, it's going to be easier said than done! I'm trying to look on the bright side though...at least I'm still living at home so there are no major bills to pay and I can also have fun finding low-cost ways to enjoy myself! :-)
And that's all for now. Till next time...