about new shoes

My brown boots are getting worn, so I bought myself a new pair. I`m still not taking this for granted. I`ve also got a pair of tan boots, two pairs of black, one grey and one blue.

When I was still financially dependent on my parents, I had one pair, and there was no point in mentioning if they started looking shabby. If a hole appeared, or if the sole came of, I`d be careful not to wear them in the rain, but I still had to wear them for I didn`t have any others. Pumps. If it rained I`d just wear summer shoes so my feet didn`t get wet, even if it was February. Or my trainers, which were meant to be for PE only. If I wore those outside I could not let my mum catch me under any circumstances, for this was much worse than summer shoes in February or boots with the soles coming off.

I remember a horrible story from school in which I was slow getting dressed after PE and I had to run in my trainers to catch the bus. Back home, I noticed that I forgot my shoes, which were my only ones. The next morning, I went to the school secretary, and she said yes, they were found, but the cleaner has binned them because they are broken. She thought they were maybe left intentionally. I started to cry and said they are the only ones I`ve got, and I`ll not be getting new ones just because I`ve lost them. Miraculously, my plastic bag appeared from underneath her desk with my shoes inside. I can`t remember whether I was more grateful or more embarrassed, and I have no idea whether anyone has contacted my parents and what they would have said. It was a rather wealthy kids` school, and this was because we couldn`t afford the bus fare to go to the more mainstream one either.

When I started to earn my own money, I vowed never to wear old shoes again in my whole life, and I hope I`ll never have to.

Funnily enough, people who know me now think I look expensive. Because I moved to a new country, they don`t know how I grew up.

Valentine`s Day

Every year on this day, I inevitably think of a poem I found on Gumtree (…) a few years ago. It wasn`t until some 2 months later that I found it, but it was written on Valentine`s Day my first day in my new job 14 February. It wasn`t particulary well written, which added to its charme, but it was the content that struck a cord:

It was from a guy who had a secret crush at work, and he was tormented by the fact that he didn`t manage to tell her (Oh yes, he did. On my leaving night. Drunk.). She didn`t seem to notice him at all, and if she at all did, he was worried that she would think of him as a guy who didn`t care, for that`s how he acted. Now, she had just left for another job, without ever getting to know.

Life is funny sometimes and the move only internal. Fast forward – the same guy (don`t ask… there were a couple of very… identifying bits in it), was working side by side with me again. Nothing was ever said, and then it was him who was about to leave. He was still there, when our temp, totally out of the blue, asked me if I liked him.

I think the world of him, I said.

And have you ever told him?

No.

Why not?

Why should I? It`s not something you generally say at work, and he should know by my actions, anyway.

Maybe, she said. But sometimes, it`s good to hear, too.

And so I went and told him. I said I think the world of you, and I`ll miss you very much.

It felt good.

 

12 vor 12 in February or: an Ordinary Day in Pictures

9.30am: Hair needing done again – love this colour, but sadly, only available as semi permanent, so needs re-done on a monthly basis. I dip dye and leave alone what`s unprocessed.

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10.00am: Not the best pictures on this dreich day with too much backlight but have to be included. My heart still skips a beat sometimes when I look at those:

10.15am: bit of tidying up: Fridge badly needing work, and when I`m done it transpired that I also badly need to go shopping.

And can anyone explain this one?? I mean – the drawer is shut and all the stuff we put in it clean, but I`m forever removing crumbs, dust and even cat hair from it…

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11.15am: Tidy kitchen wants to be cooked in: Breakfast time!

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12pm: A session on my computer (purely pleasure) including getting printouts ready of the map to… our flat in Lisbon. 2 weeks to go – can`t wait:

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2pm a visit from my friend for coffee and cake, and after procrastinating all day because of this

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she managed to entice me out to go shopping together

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18.30pm: I made a vegetarian Pasta Bolognese and took (and approved of!) her advice to add walnuts:

Very chilled night ending a very chilled day, while my first ever home made Kale chips were dehydrating in the kitchen…

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About Salary Transparency in Britain

I`m from Germany, so for the first 26 years of my life, I`ve been living in a country where one`s salary is one`s best kept secret only to be disclosed to one`s bank and spouse (no, probably not even fiancee).

I used to negotiate my pay every time I started a new job (and then again when I felt I deserved a rise) and remember finding out by pure chance that I was earning significantly less, and then more (same woman, few years later – I got rises, because I asked, but she obviously hadn`t) than a colleague who almost did the same job.

It felt weird coming to Britain and seeing the salary already stated in the advert. My Scottish husband advised me not to question it – if it was written in the advert, it was non negotiable.

I fiercely disliked it, and I had loads of questions. So, did this mean that anybody could look up anybody`s earnings, and will this not inevitably lead to jealousy, comparison, stigma and “assessments” in work and in personal life, e.g. when looking for a prospective husband? Indeed I`m still finding the question “What do you do?” (for a living), and then “What does your husband do?” (I hate this question!! People ask this before they even ask his name or how long I`ve been with him), is posed far too quickly when meeting new people, and it is obvious what this is aiming at.

The longer I live here, though, the more I grew to like this transparency, for several reasons:

  • I don`t need to waste my or anyone else`s time applying for jobs who won`t pay as much as I want to earn.
  • Where adverts are brief, the salary gives a good indication on what level of skills they are looking for.
  • I`m reassured that my salary will not depend on my negotiation skills or gender, and that the male colleague doing the same work as me will earn exactly the same as me.
  • If a mistake is made with people`s pay, the member of staff will become aware of this, because colleagues openly speak about their wage slips, and can then be rectified.
  • Pressure on employers to pay a good, or at least not extremely low, wage, if they want to attract good people (and press)
  • People are more accountable, particularly those with a higher salary, because others know what they earn and expect them to really “earn”** this.

** Note: in German language, the word for “to deserve” and “to earn” is the same – could this be why we are more private about the matter, because there`s more emotional meaning just to the word?

  • The issue of women who only want to marry rich men seems a bit tricky. Instinctively, I dislike like the thought of sussing out each other`s finances at dating stage, but what if this is really important to someone (and I know people to whom it is)? It seems rude to reject someone based on their finances, but if this was me, and you would substitute “lack of wealth” with “strong desire for children”, I would like to know early and say that I may not be the one, rather than splitting over it later on. Or am I wrong here?

We swam in Seitan Limania!!!

I often write about my holidays in lots of detail and post a lot of pictures. But let`s be honest, it usually makes for very boring reading: We had 3 days by the pool, 3 by the beach, we visited Chania city four times and had two day trips. My once again rather extensive collection of photos consist mainly of cobbled streets, water, food, sunsets and CATS.

Our day trips went to Elafonisi Beach, which is indeed stunning, and – Seitan Limania. Seitan Limania gets a lot of hits when you google it, but we would never have known about it, leave alone gone there, if it hadn`t been for Georgia. Georgia was the guide who took us to Elafonisi Beach, and because we enjoyed ourselves so much and had ran out of things to do, we went back to where she worked and asked whether there were any other trips she was doing. So Georgia asked what kind of things we would like, and as she was free she offered to take us to Seitan Limania – just the two of us, as we were surprised to find out when we turned up at 8.30am the next morning.

My own experience is, of course, mine, but there are plenty links like  TripadvisorCretemap and quite a few videos on youtube.

We had a jeep to access the place via a narrow, windy road which led us to a lonely spot, which was supposed to be the car park, and from which we could look down the cliffs to Seitan Limania – Devil`s Harbour.

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“The path is over here,” said Georgia, “I`ll see you at 1 o`clock!”

And then she was gone and us left in the blazing heat with no shadow and nowhere to go but down. Hiking really isn`t my thing, but the white beach and turquoise water down there definitely was, so…

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I wish she had mentioned back home that we were to face a 20 minutes climb down a very steep cliff – we would have travelled much lighter, and I`d have chosen sturdier shoes. No, that’s a lie – chances are I would have refused to go at all.

20 minutes later, we arrived, my knees trembling.

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Tripadvisor says it can be crowded, but it was only 10am, and there were only four people there apart from ourselves. (It got busier when we left, though.)

The water was amazing. The color really was like that (I SWEAR no photoshop!!), and although I`d have thought exactly the opposite in a secluded bay like that, the waves were high and powerful, frequently washing me back to the shore as I tried to swim out. (Towards the end of our stay, I found a trick, though – swim along the rocks – waves are much less powerful there). It was SO FUN, and I was screaming and laughing like a kid!!

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Going back up was awful. Some paused to take photos, but I just wanted to get it over and done with. You can watch someone else`s journey here – when we finally arrived back at the car park I was ready to cry. There was people coming towards us, and I thought I was going to die with love and admiration for my husband who carried all the stuff leaving both hands to hold onto the cliffs.

There`s a memorial up there to a guy who died aged 22, and I asked the question to Georgia. But he was a fisherman, she said, and no, noone ever died climbing up or down those cliffs. I find that hard to believe. But if I hadn`t made it, I would have died happy. It was so worth it!

Helpful hint: travel light and be early – there`s no shade, and it does get busier towards lunch time. Also remember to take enough food and water (not coffee, beer or cola!) for the whole duration of your stay – no kiosk nor loo 🙂

Good Morning February :-)

First of all, thank you very much for putting up, and interacting, with a whole month of recycled lifestyle posts. I thought they would be interesting over the month of January, where there is not much going on, apart from good intentions, and I have been particularly closely looking at the feedback, to get an idea of which kind of content works for my readers, and which doesn`t. So even *not* interacting has helped me, because it showed me that this topic generates less interest.

I`m also going to try some other things, and I already have. Twitter did not work for me. Linking to new entries there generated next to nothing. At some point last week, someone else linked to an old entry and made my blog explode – it was an entry that wasn`t that much recognised when I first published it last May. I also came out about the blog within my circle of friends and had fantastic feedback, about the diversity of topics in particular. I`m currently thinking about amalgamating my (near dead!!) cookery blog, but I like its name, so it may remain re-post only.

However, while I`m happy about every new follower and post like, my goal remains to create good and interesting content which people enjoy and want to interact with, rather than focusing on traffic. They say until you achieve 1000 followers, it`s the traffic that matters most, but I can think of one blog in particular, which is probably getting loads, but they achieve this by recycling the same content *every two weeks*, so I quickly unfollowed them as I felt they were dominating my timeline with the same old things.

So what`s the plans for February? It`s my birthday at the end of the month, and we`ll be going to Lisbon again for a couple of days. I`m also going to show you some photos from Crete (September), Porto (November) and Lisbon (November) and also try to fit in some Edinburgh. There are also some other things I want to write about, but they are not for writing down in 5, 6 Minutes.

Anyhow, just wanted to say a huge thank you for January and what my plans are for the future.

Be good,

Bianca x