1) Work. I have submitted an application for early release from my job as part of the HUGE cuts to the public sector that the Government is implementing. If my application is accepted, I will, on May 31st this year, leave Her Majesty's employ after twenty two and a half years, and be released back into the wild. I am tremendously excited at the prospect.
I joined the Department of Secrecy a few months after I graduated, having taken the Civil Service entrance exam the week after my finals, and then worked like a SLAVE for them for twenty years. Twenty. Jesus.
Two years ago, as regular longstanding readers will already know, I transferred to the Department of Less Secrecy and More Cement up in London, to see what working in a Whitehall job was like.
I can report that it's busy, demanding, interesting and sometimes a bit scary. Plus you see Ministers in the lifts, and there are some fab shops really close to the office.
However, the last two years have, coincidentally, been crammed with some very bad stuff, including the (now-resolved) SSFH. We also had Mr WithaY's horrible finger-lopping accident, several loved ones being very ill indeed, and me having the Black Lung on and off for what felt like the entire time.
Dealing with all of that, as well as a 3 hour each-way commute to the office is proving to be just too much, and as a result my sick record for the last 2 years is appalling. I honestly think the early mornings and hellish travelling will kill me, so it's time for a change. This is the perfect opportunity.
Fingers crossed that I get gently coaxed out of the cage in May, and am set free to scamper into the woods, wagging my tail and sniffing at the warm Spring air.
I have no idea what I will do with my life when I stop being a corporate drone, by the way.
Suggestions are welcome.
2) Family. Mother in law WithaY was here for a visit last weekend. She had to go to a funeral, sadly, so was over from her chic pad in the South of France for a few days. It was nice to see her, as we don't get to visit as often as we'd like. She was bored after a few hours, and took to wandering into the kitchen while I was making dinner, demanding some ironing to do. I ordered her back to the sofa with a cup of tea, but it was a close-run thing. At one point I thought I might have to use a broom to shoo her away.
Yesterday I went down to Sussex to visit my lovely Mum, and also saw Youngest Sis and the two younger nephews. We all went out for a Chinese lunch, to the same place we went to for the big birthday celebration almost a year ago. There was a flyer on the table advertising a forthcoming Chinese New Year evening there, which included a Lion Dance among the cabaret attractions. It's not a very big restaurant. I'd love to see how they manage it in the space available.
3) Birthday celebrations. Yes, today is my birthday. Again.
Following the slight gift-giving hiccup on Christmas Day, Mr WithaY has gone to a lot of trouble to make today very special for me. He told me yesterday evening that he had invited some of our friends over for "birthday tea" this afternoon. I asked what I needed to bake. I was told "You don't have to do anything. It's all organised." And it was. He had bought the ingredients to make:
Smoked salmon and cream cheese sandwiches
Marmite and watercress sandwiches
Scones with strawberry jam and clotted cream
Hot buttered crumpets
But the piece de resistance was the cake. A huge, chocolate, fuck-off, surprise birthday cake.
I was so impressed by this that I had to deploy my shiny cake stand for the scones. Magnificent, no?
I also had a bunch of beautiful flowers that a friend* gave me last weekend, which had opened up for today. Perfect timing.
And, hey, is that a CAKE there in the foreground?
The little house behind the flowers was a birthday gift from Mother in law WithaY. It's a bumble bee house, and when the weather gets warmer I will find a sunny sheltered spot in the garden, put it out there, and hopefully attract bumble bees to nest in it. She was puzzled when she found out that I was given an annual membership to the Bumble Bee Conservation Trust last year as a gift, but was keen to join in I think, hence the house.
And tomorrow night I am visiting Middle Sister, who has hinted there may be baklava. Wonder how things will go at the weigh-in this week. Heh.
Other news: I met a nice elderly lady on the bus last week who was wearing a huge, gorgeous fur coat and hat.
Me: That coat looks lovely and warm.
Nice elderly lady: Yes. I've been to a funeral down in Brighton all afternoon, and it was freezing cold, so it was the perfect thing to wear.
Me: I can imagine. And it's such a lovely colour. Do people ever comment on it?
Nice elderly lady: Yes, I have had people tell me I shouldn't wear fur. I tell them it's not real.
Me: Ha! Do they believe you?
Nice elderly lady: Well, it isn't real. It's not WILD mink.
She was a card.