Winter 2019

Hello and thank goodness it’s nearly spring!!  Winter be gone!  I’m totally ready to ditch my winter outfits and scarf and move on with life already!

So the past 3 months have gone so quickly — that’s because I’ve been working really hard at my new job.  I’m on contract at the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education as a business analyst on another change programme.  The QAA quality assures the universities here in the UK and the headquarters are located in Gloucester, a small city about 60 miles to the north east of Cardiff.

On a holiday, or very late at night, you can make it from Cardiff to Gloucester in about an hour.  In rush hour though, it can take two 🙁  This is one of the joys of living in the “M4 corridor”…!  Down below is a map of where I drive — thank goodness for google maps which helps me determine the best route with traffic info.  By now I’ve been on nearly every single possible road between Gloucester and Cardiff.  My favourite for speed is the M4 to M48 (over old Severn Bridge) to M5.  Of course the A466 along the River Wye is beautifully scenic – but after about 1.5 hours I DON’T WANT SCENERY. I WANT TO BE AT HOME WITH MORGY AND ALED!


Because it’s a very long drive, I couldn’t possibly do it every day — so I’ve found a lovely house share in Gloucester with a lovely lady named Claire.  She lives in a giant house made in the same era as our house in Cardiff so it’s like “home from home” as they say here in the UK.  Even the stairs are on the same side as ours and the tiles are like ours too:


There are two other “lodgers” in the 6 bedroom house — I am the youngest.  They are all working professionals who “work away” in the week.  So everyone is asleep by 10 as we’re all so exhausted from our drives — mine is the shortest.  John comes from Liverpool and Steve comes from Cornwall.  On Monday, Claire is lovely and cooks us dinner:


So typically I am here on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday nights, driving home to Cardiff on Wednesday and Friday.  I miss the boys a lot of course but I feel proud that Aled and I are figuring out a way to earn a decent enough living to give him time to work on his software idea.  So Aled obviously does all the school drop offs, pick ups, and homework and, while Morgy is at school, works really hard on his project.

Gloucester meanwhile is an interesting little town. It’s at the top of the Severn River and its historic dockyards are located just across the street from the building where I work. At some point I will have to visit the National Waterways Museum.


The docks are a nice place to sit on a sunny day at lunch time and there are a range of nice boats to look at.  To be honest they just make me want to sell up and go sailing again!


Gloucester is also very famous for its beautiful cathedral which is only a few minutes’ walk from my office.  I have been a few times now — it’s a very awe-inspiring place.


Here is the inside:


So that is what is happening work-wise — my contract goes until early May but it may be extended until summer, we’ll see.

Back at the ranch…. we’ve been up to our usual gallivanting on the weekends.  In January we took Morgy for his first ice-skating adventure which he seemed to enjoy:


And also went for a walk near Castle Coch with his buddy Zeke and fam. It was very, very cold that day!!


In early February we had two sets of visitors: Estelle and Nic and Liz.  Unfortunately I haven’t got any good photos of the visitors so will just say how lovely it was to see them all!  Thank you for coming to see us in Cardiff dear friends!!  You significantly brightened up an otherwise gloomy time of year.

In late February, there was a mini-heatwave in the UK and we took full advantage of the sun and warmth. Here we are at Southerndown with Sarah, Ed, Oliver and Tom, friends from the neighbourhood and school.  They are another international family with Ed being from Australia.  Ed and I have been known to share a grumble about sunshine levels in our current abode!


By miracle, the February school half-term coincided with this wonderfully warm (yet scary for February!) weather and even luckier still, Aled and Morgy had organised train tickets to visit Nanna and Taidi out in Pembrokeshire.  Morgy was absolutely delighted to be on the train!

Morgy on train

They took various walks around the lovely Pembrokeshire coastal path, soaking up plenty of that sunshine.


Here is Morgy out flying our favourite kite:


And then it was mid-March and it was Morgy’s 5th birthday!  We had some small celebrations at the house on the actual day but then went all out for a party at Mambo, a gigantic indoor play area.  I was so busy talking to the other parents that I barely got any good photos — Aled got a great video but it’s too long to post.  So here is a picture of the crazy volcano cake we made… a transportation nightmare I might add!!

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Now although I’ve mostly turned this blog into a family posting sort of thing, I feel it’s necessary to say something about the political mayhem that we’ve all been enduring here in Britain…. yes that would be Brexit folks!  WHAT A MESS!!

Brexit is a never-ending saga which has totally divided and paralysed the country.  By now, irrespective of how anyone voted way back in 2016, everyone just wants it to be over and done with.  It has turned into the biggest waste of time, effort and money ever… and for someone who has spent over a decade solving business problems it’s particularly infuriating because it’s clear that we are working on a solution for a non-problem.  Meaning: many of the people who voted for Brexit were frustrated about various things happening in this country — the failing health service, wage inequality, and frankly a racist attitude towards immigrants.  Very few (if any) of these problems were a direct result of Britain’s EU membership.  So here we are, three years (!?!?) later, scrabbling to find a way forward.  The politicians are having a hard time doing that because all the solutions proposed are not going to solve any of the actual problems in Britain… and leaving the EU is likely to make the country economically worse off than we are now, which will in turn only exacerbate Britain’s domestic challenges (such as its crumbling infrastructure).  GREAT PLAN GUYS.

In past I may have concluded with: “yoga breathing required”.  Today I feel like we need something more than yoga breathing: revolution required…?

I saw this billboard a few weeks ago on Newport Road, just around the corner from our house.  If you zoom into this pic you can read: “Plan. Adjust. Innovate” and its Welsh translation above.  It’s an attempt by the government to get people to realise they have to prepare for Brexit.  The problem is — even days from leaving, no one still knows what’s going to happen!  It’s causing unprecedented uncertainty for business, for central government, and apparently contributing to general anxiety levels in the British population.

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I saw this on a lady’s desk at work the other day and felt it described British politicians quite well:

funny quote

Depressing times in all our countries of nationality 🙁 Of course we were saddened by the news of the terrorist attack at a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand a few weeks ago.  Our hearts go out to everyone affected — such sad times and I can only imagine the shock to the national psyche.  Kia kaha friends.

End of political section… I will end with a nice last moment of March.  We spent last Sunday in Cardiff and it was a lovely day. Look at Morgy that little rascal! It’s hard to get a good pic of him.

Aled and Morgy in town 2

I got the boys dressed up because we had vouchers to go to the orchestra (thanks Ceri, Angela, Kate and Rachie!).  But first we managed to rendezvous for lunch at Miller & Carter with Aled’s cousin Sian and her husband Geraint who were down in Cardiff for the football match.  These guys are always a laugh – it was great to see you XOXO

sian and geraint

And then it was off to the theatre for the BBC Family Orchestra concert:


I really enjoyed the music but Morgy was a bit squirmy during parts. Hopefully I’ve sown some seeds of culture… (?)

Well that’s all for now folks — hope everyone is doing well in your various corners of the earth!  Big hugs from Cardiff  XOXOX