Autumn 2018

I’ve been busy as ever here in Penylan this autumn as I’ve been applying for lots of jobs — with no luck I’m afraid! It’s been an odd time  for me in that I’ve never had to expend so much effort to get work before.  From what I can deduce, I think there are a number of factors impacting my hunt including:

1. Brexit uncertainty (MOST ANNOYING SITUATION EVER!)
2. Limited opportunities for continuous improvement professionals in South Wales
3. Lots of competition for relatively few highly paid positions
4. Pedantic employers/narrow job descriptions

I had four seemingly good opportunities in October and had interviews scheduled… but then they all “vanished” — meaning a day or two before the interview had been scheduled the recruiter called to tell me the contract had been put on hold due to funding until April 2019 (post Brexit). Or in one instance, I went to an interview but it wasn’t the job I had applied for (some mix up between hiring manager and recruiter!).  Annoyingly the advertised role seemed to be a perfect fit for my skills and Welsh Water is known to be a nice employer.  On the upside I got to have a coffee with Adrian S, an old friend from the IB who I hadn’t seen for ages, who was on contract there.

In early November I had a great interview at Dyson headquarters in Malmesbury, pictured here:


Yes that is a Harriet Jump Jet at the front door…!  When I showed this picture to Morgan when I got home I asked him what he thought the company made.  He said airplanes.  I said no, vacuum cleaners.  He looked very confused indeed.

In any case I had a really nice interview there. I thought the hiring manager was awesome, I loved the vibe of the company, and I thought it would be a challenging yet rewarding post.  The only downside was that it took me 2 hours to get home in M4 traffic and the role required frequent travel to Europe.  So I withdrew my application before the second interview because the practicalities were impossible with a 4 year old at home and/or no desire in the wider household to re-locate 🙁  Sob.

So I soldier on looking for a good fit for my skills, my parenting responsibilities and salary expectations in and around Cardiff.  The salaries here in Wales meanwhile aren’t anything to write home about.  If you go “over the bridge” to Bristol the salaries jump by 10-20k — but then the commute stretches to over an hour on the oft-accident-filled M4.  If you go to London it seems the salaries practically double!

So in the meantime I’ve done two courses to keep my skills current: the APMG Change Management Practitioner and the Agile BA Practitioner.  I really enjoyed the Change Management one and found it useful but the Agile one I found mostly MEH.  Fun practice exam pictured:


So that’s what’s happening on the work side of things — hopefully something suitable comes along for me in the new year.

Onto other aspects of life as a “stay at home” mum…   Morgan has settled into school ok –there were a couple of toilet accidents in the beginning but those stopped after an ice-cream incentivisation scheme.  He also got a cold/ear infection so was off school a couple of days in late September.  Other than that I am really impressed with the progress he is making with numbers, letters, etc and he even came home with a Head Teacher’s award in October for asking good questions about snow and ice:


Well we got on with the carpeting project — old carpet pictured here.


The first lot of new carpet went in wonderfully in the hallway and Morgy’s bedroom so we went ahead and decided to do the two other bedrooms… and that is where things went horribly wrong.  If I thought the wallpaper not turning up on time was annoying,  you can imagine how irritating it was to have STINKY carpet installed in the middle bedroom.  Yes all carpets have a “new” smell when they are first installed which usually dissipates in a few days — which is what happened in the hallway, Morgy’s room, and our front bedroom.  But the middle bedroom smelled like there had been a smoky house party just in that room and even after airing it out for two weeks it didn’t go.  Very long and annoying story short — the middle bedroom carpet was replaced no less than 3 TIMES before it was satisfactory.


This meant that the house was a total shambles with furniture in all the wrong rooms for over 5 weeks!  But to end this story on a positive note the fantastic decorators returned two weeks ago to put up the wallpaper and we are very happy with how everything looks now — so all is well that ends well I guess…!


Onto more fun experiences…  we headed out to Pembrokeshire to see Nanna and Taidi in mid-October.  Here we are at the St. Dogmaels mill where you can buy organic flour milled the old-fashioned way.


It’s right across the street from an old abbey which is nice to walk around:


We then headed down to Poppit Sands beach for a walk and a play.  Naturally Morgy got soaked!


On the way back to Glan y Mor we went for a nice woodland walk in an “ancient forest” — it made me want to start a tree-planting charity!


We also took two pumpkins from Glan y Mor — one for us and one for Hefin and Emma in Norwich.


Let me tell you about the dedication it requires to use up even one of these huge pumpkins… we had pumpkin soup, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin pie, and even put roasted pumpkin flesh into our bread maker…!  My in-laws are so dedicated — and god bless my mother-in-law Ann who has been turning Steve’s home-grown veg into delicious meals and treats for decades!  If we all lived like these guys we definitely wouldn’t have any problems with global warming.

Onwards… random but fun outing to the Principality Stadium in Cardiff to see the Wales rugby team practicing.  There were up to 6 free tickets per family so I thought we should take Morgy and Zeke.


It really was a test to see whether Morgy was too young and/or interested enough to warrant buying tickets to an actual game.  I therefore felt smug when I saw him doing this during the National Anthem (keeping in mind the stadium was at about 5% capacity):


Back at the ranch, Halloween preparations were in full swing…


… but we ended up heading to Norwich over the half term so we left our pumpkins with Paul (pictured above) and Anurag to light for tricker-treaters.

We had a lovely time in Norwich with Hefin, Emma and cousin Elis.  We went to this absolutely fantastic place called “Bewilderwood” — an outdoor adventure sort of place with lots of wooden structures, rope bridges, and slides.


There were also plenty of fun zip lines which the boys loved — here’s Elis:


And Morgy:


And fun for the adults too — here are Hefin and Emma having a go on a bigger version:


Fantastic slides:


And in the evening there was a super “lantern parade” where the whole place had been decorated with lanterns, carved pumpkins, etc.  It was fab!  If you ever find yourself in Norfolk with kids I would highly recommend this place!


On the way back home from Norwich we stopped at the Imperial War Museum which was super cool.  Here are Morgy and Aled in front of Morgy’s favourite: the Vulcan Bomber.  He’s watched a documentary on this plane many times with Taidi so was amazed to see it in real life.


I was really interested to come across this plane which actually flew in food in the famous Berlin airlift in the late 1940’s.  They were called “Rosinenbomber” in German and brought much needed food to Berliners during the Berlin Blockade.


We had lunch overlooking the airfield and watched as a refurbished Spitfire took off and circled above.


So yes, the Imperial War Museum is definitely worth a visit if you are in the area!

Now just two more things happenings to add to this post… Thanksgiving at our house with Morgy’s two best buddies from school, Zeke and Oliver (and their families) in late November.  Here I am with the turkey — honestly even with butter stuffed under the skin the meat was still a bit dry… not sure it’s worth the effort!!  Oh well, gravy solves everything doesn’t it?


All in all it was a really nice day celebrating and eating together:


And the kids had fun too:


And finally — a nice day trip out to the National Botanic Gardens in Carmarthen, a halfway point between Nanna and Taidi’s to pick up another lot of apples!  It was an absolutely beautiful day!


Here are Ann and Steve in the dome:


I even managed to get them both on the zip line — fantastic!!


That’s all for now folks — gotta get on with xmas preparations!  I hope everyone is well and staying safe amidst various political, economic, and environmental disasters (such as fires in California, floods, shootings, riots in Paris, Brexit, insane tweets, etc).  Is it me or is this planet getting crazier by the day?!?  XOXOXO