A Year In Review – 2011

As some of you know, I have a tradition of giving a year in review every New Years Eve. Here it is – apologies for the shortness of it, as given my busy schedule, I’ve drafted this on my iPhone! 
January
  • After being laid off in November, I moved back home to Chilliwack and started looking for work. 
  • I ended up swallowing my pride and returned to my old job at McDonalds. 
  • I started hiking Mt. Thom more often – seeking the peace and quiet the summit could provide to contemplate my future and my plans. 
February
  • There is no quantity of events in February, but there IS quality. Josh and Leslie welcome darling Briella into the world.
March
  • March 1st brought snow in spring – http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=513811805840&l=84d7e5545b 
  • Morgan taught me how to drive standard. 
  • I began working at Vin65 as a Customer Service Rep and Project Manager – and learned a little more about wine over the coming months. 
  • Thanks to my dad I managed to pay off one of my two credit cards with my tax return. 
  • I signed up for my 2nd Sun Run and ran 3km without stopping for the first time. 
  • The Young family visited and I got to meet precious Briella for the first time!
April
  • Went on my first wine tasting trip to Oliver with my Vin65 colleagues. 
  • I reached a new level of accomplishment and ran 6km without stopping. 
  • I ran my second Sun Run and unfortunately came in with the same time as last year. 
May
  • I discover and fall in love with BBC Radio 1 and the Chris Moyles Show from London. 
  • Canucks make it to the Stanley Cup Finals!
June
  • I watch a few Canucks games with friends in the heat of summer as we battle the Boston Bruins
  • We make a couple trips to Vancouver to watch the game on the streets of downtown with thousands of other fans. 
  • Morgan and I witness a riot in downtown Vancouver following the Canucks loss of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. I mourn the loss. 
July
  • I worked a staggering 308 hours in one month. 
  • Another birthday rolls around and my grand plan of a pool party is destroyed by rain. But its the people I spent it with that matters and in that sense it was awesome. 
  • Went on a trip to Playland with McDonalds buds despite how tired I was from working so much. It reminded me that even though I was working two jobs, I shouldn’t let life and fun pass me by. 
  • Read the Hunger Games series and can’t wait for the film. 
  • Had a fabulous time on Nicki’s stagette!
August 
  • For the second time in my life, I gave my notice at McDonalds. 
  • I took Morgan for his first trip to Playland. We had an awesome full day of fun in Vancouver that included a trip to the park, MEC, White Spot drive in, and the  Twilight drive in theatre.
  • The Young family visits again! Yay!
  • My UK work visa is approved and my flight to London is booked. The countdown begins!
  • I get offered my job at Hugo & Cat – so excited!!!
  • My last concert with Morgan for a while, we hit the city for Blink 182 and MCR. 
September
  • Nicki and Curtis get married! I have a brother now! 🙂
  • The countdown for London and crossing days off my calendar begins. 
  • I get my very first ride on the back of a motorcycle with Morgan!
  • I had a couple of farewell parties, lots of packing, and reflection on the past 9 months as I prepared for the trip to London. 
  • Fly to London!
  • I discovered how spoiled I’ve been with BC water. London water is revolting. 
  • I met two lovely Australian friends in my first hostel and we spent a few days together before they headed to Paris. 
  • I start work in my first week in London on a Friday and get introduced to my new colleagues by a night of drunken fun at the local pub. Thanks Gwen, Victoria, and James!!!
  • I met Eimear, who would become my good friend here! London would be dull and lonely without her!
October
  • I have a few hostel adventures including a 3 high bunk bed. I consider myself a semi-experienced hostel-goer now.  
  • I visit the seaside town of Brighton
  • I found Canadian maple syrup at the supermarket – yay!
  • I went zip lining in Swinley Forest and had so much fun up in the trees of the forest. 
  • Finally found a place to live!
November
  • I took over 1/3 of the Nokia account at work – YES!
  • Went to Finland on a business trip and saw Helsinki. 
  • Mom runs for school trustee – I did what I could from so far away but it wasn’t enough. Thanks to all our friends that helped out and voted!
  • I reach the one year milestone of being laid off in Vancouver and reflect on how much has changed in so little time. 
  • I got mugged and my beloved iPhone 4 was lost into the abyss of London. Lessons were learned. 
  • I found a store in Convent garden to get my fix of Canadian things including Kraft dinner, Tim Hortons, root beer and Caramilk. 
  • I made an extremely successful batch of pumpkin pies for the office. Woot!
December
  • I received a couple of packages from home which made me feel so loved and also gave me a few things I can’t get here. 
  • Mom sent her famous sugar cookies and my colleagues at Hugo & Cat made them disappear instantly!
  • I got a nasty bout of the flu that put me out of commission for a few days. It was the sickest I’ve been since 2003 – but I lived!
  • Hugo & Cat has their christmas party on a Yacht – so cool and we had so much fun!
  • I spent Christmas with Eimear’s family and got to see a little bit of Ireland!
  • And now Eimear and I are off to spend New Years Eve in an Irish Pub in Piccadilly Circus. Should be awesome – I’m in London for New Years! Crazy!
I want to thank all my friends and family for how supportive they’ve been in this eventful year. I appreciate you all much more now than I ever did before – especially my family. I’ve learned a lot by moving to the other side of the world and I’m still learning new things about myself and about life everyday. 

Thanks everyone – and Happy New Year!
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On a yacht with Ryan Reynolds

So I’ve been lagging – sorry folks. Let’s begin last weekend when I caught the flu. That was not fun at all, obviously. It was one of those times I was really sad that London is ginormous and I had no one with enough free time or who cared enough to come by and bring me lovely things to help me get better, like chicken noodle soup or vitamin-boosting drinks. Oh the things a small town is good for! 

By Wednesday I was almost back to myself and I went to see Handel’s Messiah since we got some free tickets at work. It was good, but a little bit too long for me since I was still trying to regain energy from being sick. By Thursday, I was in an amazing mood and feeling completely back to my old self again, complete with 3 meals a day and a cheery disposition. 

Friday was our company Christmas party. It was on a YACHT. Cool eh? It was really fun and quite tame for our group actually. We did secret Santa and I got a few things including a bottle opener in the shape of the royal guard, a Big Ben piggy bank, a “school set” of pencil case, ruler, eraser, etc that said “I love London” on them, and a book that explains Cockney rhyming phrases. 

This weekend so far has been pretty productive and I’m quite pleased with that fact. Yesterday I spent the afternoon cleaning my room, organizing some stuff, and doing laundry. The evening I spent with delivered Chinese food and Ryan Reynolds.

Today I was on a mission, and after having a decent lie in and some tea with crumpets, I headed for the mall. I made record time in Tesco getting my groceries without a headache or frustration and I found a suitcase for 50% off in BHS. Perfect. Although, upon getting home with my spoils and putting away my groceries, I’ve realized I probably got a little too excited and bought too much food for only being here another week. So if anyone fancies coming for dinner, let me know!

Wednesday is my last day at work and then we are on holidays until January 3rd. Saturday Eimear and I fly to Dublin for Christmas with her family and we’ll spend a few days jetting around while she shows me the best areas of her native country before we fly back on New Years Eve.

If I don’t write again before Christmas, then have a merry one everyone!!! Missing you all from home!!

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A Trip to Finland

I sit here with a hot cup of tea as Mr. Sinatra croons White Christmas to me and I reminisce on the last couple of weeks.

A lot has happened, or it feels like it anyway. This past week I found myself in whirl of travel excitement as I boarded a plane for Helsinki, Finland. It was a work trip for Nokia and it turned out to be really beneficial and productive but also fun spending time with my pretty awesome colleagues.

The more I travel and meet new people and see new places I become more and more humbled and appreciative. While in Helsinki I stopped by Stockmann, a department store, and was looking for a power adapter for my laptop. I wandered around for quite some time without asking for help until I couldn’t avoid it anymore. I felt so ignorant that I didn’t speak the local language even though they all spoke English. I find the part about travelling that scares me the most is the language barrier. I did learn two Finnish words though, “Moi” (pronounced moy) – which means “hello”, and “Kiitos” (pronounced key-toss) – which means “thank you”.

I’ve also become more appreciative of the things I have and the opportunities that have come my way. Not only that, I am more and more appreciative of my family and friends. As Christmas creeps nearer, I sometimes feel quite sad that I won’t be home for it this year. I wouldn’t ever say I’m “homesick” except at Christmas when our country home is decked out in red, green, and gold and on Christmas we spend the day together mostly eating the delicious things my mum makes throughout the day. I know it’s going to be hard on all of us this year, but some of the best things in life don’t come without a few sacrifices.

While I do miss some things about Vancouver/Chilliwack, like the mountains and the ocean, I wouldn’t leave England just yet. Family and friends can always visit and I know I’ll see them again soon anyway. I long for the day when I can visit home again but for now this amazing journey must continue, even if it does come with a little bit of heartache now and again.

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