Birthday week firsts: Post-party energy, driving lessons and a chiropractor visit

It’s been a great week of birthday celebrations (yay to the October-born).  With all the changes that have happened this year, I found myself caught up at the start of this semester with the “must work all the time” kind of mentality that comes with starting a new job. Not surprisingly I found myself becoming quite anxious and mentally exhausted – not a good sign given I’ve got 8 weeks left to the semester.

However this week I’ve been reminded of what actually matters by just being around people. Especially people who want to party. Considering most of my social circle is comprised of language teachers and UK HE professionals, the need for a party runs pretty high. Not party in the sense of all-nighter, lock-in binge (not really my thing) but more grab a drink and chill. I mean actually having a conversation with friends you cross paths with on campus when you’re both on your way to teach your next class but barely have the time to say hello. I don’t think I realised how much I needed to sit and hang out with people until after the party, when I felt more energised than drained. As an extreme introvert this rarely happens, and was a reminder that focussing on work all the time does nothing for anyone’s mental health.

The rest of the week was filled with other awesome experiences: first driving lesson in the UK (I haven’t driven since 2002) and my first trip to the chiropractors to deal with my first lower back twang (running related *sigh*). OK so having lower back pain isn’t awesome but going to see a chiropractor was quite calming. In all this week has been a good reminder to take a step back from work and do some self-care, especially during your birthday week!

Re-learning how to run and teach

I’m about to start Week 3 of teaching and, if I’m honest, it’s been a painful learning curve. It’s not that I’ve forgotten how to teach, but I have forgotten how heavy the work load was. This semester I’m teaching five different classes and it is a struggle to keep on top of the planning and weekly marking. Two of the classes are English language related, two are undergraduate content modules and the last is a series of weekly workshops. Ok granted I’m not planning from scratch for 4 out of 5 of these modules but I’m finding using other people’s materials takes almost as much planning time.

It’s strange. When I’m teaching I really enjoy the experience (for the most part) but the time in-between it’s this relentless pressure. It’s quite different to doing a PhD but the toll it’s starting to take is a little surprising considering it’s only Week 3, but I suppose it’s all part of starting a new job in a new city.

On a similar note, I’ve started running again. Last weekend was my first long run since July and, well, the next two days were hellish on my lower back. Did stretch properly post-run? Yes! Did I warm up properly? Um, define proper. Did you think about your pace and try slowing down because this was the first run in months? Nope. Now, today when you went out for your 2nd long run in two weeks did you learn anything from last week? Nope.

And so here I am with an aching back and a partial lesson for my 9am class tomorrow. The joys of being back in the learner’s seat.

Moving adventures

Moving day has come and gone. I’m in the new house with my partner (yay), my cat (more yay), and all our stuff (*woah*). There’s nothing like moving to the other end of the country to realise how much crap you own – and I only realised this while I was unpacking (oh well).

In the past I’ve moved between timezones – Canada to China to Australia to China. When I eventually settled here in the UK, I moved around Manchester at least ten times in the decade I spent living in the city. Yet, this latest move down south to Lewes was by far the most difficult, and not without it’s hiccups. Here’s a brief breakdown of events!

Day 1: Movers arrive to pack the house. Only 2 out of 3 arrive so packing takes longer. Ben and I spend the day hanging around, offering drinks to our movers, and keeping the cat out of the way. Boxes get packed and loaded onto this massive lorry. Seems we have a lot of stuff to move. About halfway through the day we take the last minute decision to drive down to Lewes as soon as the movers leave. Around 3pm, 2 more movers arrive to help and leave around 5:00pm. We run around cleaning the house, tossing what we can’t fit in the car into to the bin. We’re on the road by 6:15pm.Miraculously we arrive in Lewes 11:45pm! 5 hour drive – a new record!

Day 1 moving
House is packed and we’re on the road! Note: I’m not driving.

Day 2: Got a 5:00am meowy alarm from a zippy cat who was quite happy to be roaming around his new home. Woke up in a deflated blow up mattress, achy but content that we’re in the house. Spent the day looking around the empty house, figuring out where stuff could go, went for a wander into Lewes, and got some groceries for the next day.

Day 3
The front door is somewhere in there.

Day 3: Movers arrive 8am sharp. The sheer size of the lorry blocks the road, but somehow cars – and even the police – manage to squeeze around it (whew).  After a quick view of the house and it’s three narrow staircases, the movers start unloading the lorry.  All the boxes. All the furniture. What fits where. What can’t go up/down the staircase. Oh, there’s the parking warden arguing with the mover about the lorry. Oh, the solid wood stand for our dining table shattered in transit. What – the parking warden is still here? Oh, we have more boxes?! Oh, just pile them here – we don’t need to open the front door all the way. It’s a blur of a day and rough work for our two movers who unloaded the whole lorry between themselves. At least the bed was reassembled. Cat was locked back up in his cat box for the day and is well grumpy when we let him out. We drink beer.

Day 4: All the boxes. All the measuring. Endless “Why the hell did we take this?” kind of questions.  I go into the ultimate organiser mode and spend several hours categorising our stuff and our furniture according to “need”, “nope”, and “what”. Ben delves into the realm of getting stuff to fit in spaces and sorting out our technical network of systems, which all works splendidly in the end. We look at the old cat flap and decide we need a replacement ASAP. So we head off to buy said cat flat. Ben installs it, and I think it would be a good idea to let the cat outside for a bit. As soon as cat heads out into the garden he’s suddenly chased away by the neighbour’s cat, who is queen of the area. By queen I mean she scares the foxes away (according to her owner, our neighbour). Spend the next 2 hours calling cat to come home. Ben stands at the end of the garden and explains to our bemused neighbours why he’s sitting on the edge of the garden wall. Eventually he goes and asks our patient neighbour to keep her cat indoors so that our cat can come home. After a lot of verbal encouragement our cat eventually returns home. We lock the cat flap. We drink wine.

Day 5: We post all our “nope” furniture online as free-to-collect and the rest of our “nope” stuff goes to charity bags. Our two-seater settee thankfully gets collected and we have space in the front room…to open more boxes.  I sheepishly open four boxes labelled “office” and promptly put the contents into recycling boxes (because that’s why I moved them across country). The “need” stuff gets placed in (hopefully) useful spaces. The “what” stuff eventually turns into “need” and “nope”. We eat ice cream and drink wine.

Day 6: The last of the “nope” furniture gets collected and like magic, the house seems bigger. Spent more of the day actually planning where stuff goes. Eventually take a long walk into town for a bit of a break in the sunshine.

Day 7: Cabin fever sets in so we take off to Seven Sisters for a walk along the cliffs. It’s windy and crazy steep but makes for a good outing. Back at the house more sorting, arranging. We unpack the last of the boxes, then have more wine.The view of the Seven Sisters

So here we are! Moving adventures done – for now! Only dining table short but more or less feeling settled in (and that includes our cat). Now to make this place home.