fog in Lanzarote

What to do when your partner is made redundant?

What to do when your partner is made redundant? Oh well, I booked a bunch of holidays.

For the non UK readers being made redundant means you are going to be unemployed as your services are no longer required. It can happen for different reasons. I might cover this redundancy thing in another post at some point in the future.

We knew what was about to happen for a long time but it was not until most recently that we found out the exact date. The normal thing to do, I guess, would be to save up to be ready for hard times. As you never know when another job will come through.

The thought of saving up did cross our minds at some point but we didn’t actually do it. Instead we kept doing everything as usual.

When the date was set I started planning a two week holiday straight away. No, I didn’t book anything crazy expensive. But I saw it as a good opportunity to go explore a new place and to rest since he had the time off anyway. He had worked in the same place for way too long so a good break was a must.

A new job did take time to come through. Even though he got one on the first interview the start date took longer than expected to come. In the meantime we went on two extra holidays. We had my birthday to celebrate and later in June our anniversary. Both great excuses to go away for a little bit.

No, we are not rich. But we do manage our money quite well or at least I like to think we do. All three holidays were great and now we are back to business as usual, as in we both have to book time off from work.

Cactus Lanzarote

Drama

I like it on TV. That’s about the only drama I am happy to welcome into my life. Of course there is always the inevitable drama and I have no choice but to deal with it.

Anyone that knows me well enough is aware I do my best to avoid drama. If that drama is going on away from me, as in in someone else’s life (someone I don’t care that much about) I am cool with it.

But please don’t make me deal with your dramas and please don’t bring it into my life. Not that I don’t care. I just don’t know how to deal with it. How to make it better for you. I will probably try and fail. Well, at least I tried. I guess that’s something. Right?

I know, sometimes it happens. And you can’t do anything to avoid it. I get it.

But don’t make a drama out of everything and anything. Please. Life is too short for that. I will not care at all and it annoys me.

If the drama is in my own life then I’ll try to deal with it myself. Sometimes as if it was a maths problem. I tend to be more logical than emotional in difficult times.

In the rare occasion of you being aware of it please don’t ask silly questions. Like, what now? It’s likely I already thought about that and hopefully figured it out.

Unless you have a brilliant idea to solve my problem just let me be. I got it. If I don’t I’ll ask for help. If I need help I will really appreciate someone by my side that is better at dealing with drama than myself.

Thank you to the few friends that have been there for me in the past and sorry to the ones I failed to support in their own dramas. I’m just not good at it.

bruges by night

Belgium Road Trip

I know, I know, super random. Definitely not your typical road trip destination. But I thought we could take exploring European cities to a new level. And we did it.

Throw back to a 5 day road trip in December 2014.

Instead of flying there as we usually do we decided to get the Eurostar to Brussels. Train journeys are not as tiring as flying so that was a plus of choosing Eurostar. We got a car at the station and after a couple of hiccups with the process we got out of there.

Driving in Brussels is not for everyone but thankfully we found our way out soon enough. We headed to Bruges where we were staying the first night.

airbnb brugesIt was our first experience with Airbnb. The house was massive with a cute little garden and a cat. Getting in was easy as the key was in a secret spot waiting for us. The only problem was that our hosts did not turn the heating on until later so we froze a little bit. After cooling down (literally) at home we headed out for a walk around Bruges (and for waffles). I would recommend Bruges for a day out only as I didn’t think there was a lot to do or see there (even with the Christmas market). Dinner was at Ribs ‘n Beer and it was delicious. If you are visiting maybe try to book a table as it seemed quite busy.

The day after we accidentally broke the house rules! We let the cat up in our room! The hosts were out but would be back at any time so we had to figure out a way of leading the cat downstairs again. Preferably without anyone getting hurt. Luckily he decided to follow me right before the hosts got back into the house.

AntwerpenOn the second day we headed East as we were staying in Genk the next couple of nights. You might think, why Genk? You probably never even heard of it before. Staying in Belgium is quite expensive so I browsed the map for less known cities and came across Genk so I booked a hotel there. That day trip was Antwerp. Totally worth a visit. Don’t miss the train station!

Our accommodation was in the middle of the woods and was quite a cool place to stay. Very modern and comfortable too.

The next day we mixed it up a bit by heading to Germany. It was our first time there. Cologne was not too far from Genk so we went to check out the famous Christmas market. It didn’t disappoint. As we were enjoying visiting different countries so easily we drove to Maastricht for dinner. We wanted to see a little more of Maastricht as we got there at night the previous day so we went back on the following day before driving to our next accommodation.

Ghent was our last stop.

Ghent cityMy expectations for Ghent were quite low. But it turned out to be my favourite place in Belgium. Full of history, beautiful buildings and bridges. And of course another great Christmas market.

The hotel in Ghent was the creepiest place ever! The pictures did not translate the eery energy in there. Big house on a quiet road, high ceilings and the friendliest most horror movie alike receptionist. We soon found out that not long ago the building used to be a mental health hospital as they kindly provided that information in a booklet left in the room. As that was going to make me enjoy my stay a bit more!

ribs in ghentWe got out of there to explore the city and had an all you can eat dinner of pork ribs. It was super delicious. Ribs are a thing in Belgium. If you like pork just enjoy it because they know what they are doing when it comes to ribs.

waffles with creamOn the last day we had breakfast in Ghent.  I had the most delicious waffle. We were chatting away at the coffee shop when the waiter asked if we were Portuguese. He had some friends in Portugal so he recognized the language.  We had a nice chat about Portugal and he even showed us pictures he took there.

Sadly the time to drive back to Brussels came very soon. The drive was supposed to be an easy one but we got caught up in traffic! Luckily we didn’t miss our train back to London.

I quite enjoyed Belgium and it is good choice for a quick city break in Europe. I would definitely visit Ghent again.

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quinta da regaleira

Stressful Times

We are now less than a month away from our first official visit to Portugal this year!

And, yes, I am super used to booking holidays all the time throughout the year. And, no, we do not need to think about where we are staying as we have our own bedroom there (actually we have two now). But it is one of the most stressful holidays to plan.

So we have time for everyone and everything we need to do There is a lot of thinking that goes into it.

There is a day when we sit down and panic! That day was today. We look at the calendar and juggle the dates. We figure out a thousand possible combinations to make it work.

This time we must renew our passports as they expire in December. So it really needs to be done. There is also a birthday, a possible weekend with my family, friends to see and a new restaurant to visit. Pretty sure I am forgetting something but I am only human.

I would also love to escape for a couple of days to have some real holiday time. Hopefully I can fit that in too. Wish me luck.
settling in kilburn

After the Storm

We got through the first week. Felt like a big achievement to have made it without booking a flight to go back home.

The move to an apartment in a block of flats in Kilburn happened.

We shared the flat with Natalie and her spoiled toddler. A lot of advice was given by her when it came to job hunting and she was even doing it for us. She was lovely. Totally made up for her loud toddler screaming every time the word “no” was said.

She rented her own room while her husband was away in business to make some extra cash. It was small but quite comfortable.

Our energy levels got back to normal, we were able to sleep well and shower daily.

Job hunting was tricky but we were finally doing it.

In the meantime we were uncertain about the date when we could move to the new place with Joao (our new flatmate). The couple that was living there was taking longer than expected. Thankfully Natalie was pretty flexible with the dates.

Worst Week of my Life

On the 4th of March 2008 we landed in Heathrow after a pleasant flight with British Airways. We had a big suitcase each and made our way on the tube to North London. It was a long journey.

Before setting our move to London in stone we planned a little break to explore the city together in December. The idea was to have a feel if London could actually become our home. We stayed with friends and had a good time. London was easy to navigate and it felt right for us.

For the first week we had arranged to stay at my auntie’s place. Her husband was away in some golf trip with his friends. It turned out he did not even know that we were staying there. Still to this date I don’t know why he couldn’t know about it.

We were not very close but I had stayed at my cousin’s (her daughter that lives just a few houses away on the same street) place before many years ago and it was really nice to stay there. Even though we had microwaved meals all the time, they were Marks & Spencer’s meals so cannot complain much.

We dropped our bags and went for a little trip in London. As exhaustion kicked in we returned looking forward to a good night’s sleep. Turned out that we were actually going to sleep on the floor in the living room. No mattress. Just carpet and sleeping bags.

I never wrote about this first week in London in much detail as at the time I did not want to worry our families.

It was so tough. Dealing with all the uncertainties, looking for a place to stay and for work and not feeling comfortable where we were staying.

To add to the fact that we were sleeping on the floor we were having to wake up around 7am as there was no way my little cousin’s routine of breakfast and TV before school was going to be disrupted for a week.

Very soon we realised that finding work would have to wait and so we focused only in finding a place to stay. Not even realising how big of a task finding accommodation in London really was (and still is).

That week would not really be that bad if only we could shower whenever we wanted or needed. But no. My auntie made it clear that weekly showers were a thing. So showers had to be negotiated. Also needed to happen in a certain way not to waste water and to leave the bathroom exactly as we found it. I considered getting a haircut to just being able to wash my hair. My boyfriend did that.

We managed to open bank accounts on the first couple of days which was really good as you need one to get a salary. Unless you work cash in hand (which is not ideal).

The days were spent out of the house figuring out what to do next. We would stay out as many hours as possible as at home we felt like we were always in the way.

As we were trying to keep expenses to a minimum most days we ended up having dinner at Burger King in Leicester Square. It actually became like a ritual for us. We would spend hours there talking after eating. Calls to our family back in Portugal were frequently made from there too. At some point we would go through the highs and lows of our day and that somehow helped us getting through that week.

On Gumtree we posted an ad saying we were looking for a room and replied to a few ads on there. Very quickly we got a message from a Portuguese guy that read our ad and was going to have a room available soon. The problem was that it was not available until later in the month and we were not in a position to wait. Still we went there to see the room and to meet him. All was good so we said we would move in as soon as possible.

Now we needed to find short term accommodation as there was no way we could extend our stay. After many hours we found the perfect place in Kilburn where we could stay for a couple of weeks. We went to see the room and meet Natalie, the owner. Not long after we left we called her back saying we would to say we would take it.

It was such a massive relief to be able to move on soon and finally have a bed to sleep.

i quit my job vodafone

I Quit my Job

It was December 2007 when the decision was made. I had been working for Vodafone for a long time. I loved it there (most days), the job and the people. But it was not viable to stay. Not at Vodafone, not in Portugal.

Life was comfortable in Portugal. Big house, a dog, car, good food and nice weather. But the savings were being pinched every month. Sooner or later we would have to do something to stop living paycheck to paycheck. And the risk of draining our savings accounts until the last penny was a reality if we kept going like that.

This “good life” was only possible because we shared the rent and bills with my mum. She was living over 300 kilometers away but would visit and stay with us quite often. And obviously the house was not really ours. So no redecorating as we pleased or having people over when my mum was around.

It was our first year living together and we enjoyed it a lot. I am super grateful to my mum for allowing us to look after the house and our dog, Simba for a whole year. But you can only (or should only) depend on your parents financially for so long before you move on.

Portugal was going through this critical period (called crisis for many years) and jobs were scarce and not well paid at all. Renting our own place on our salary was almost impossible. The only solution we came up with was moving to another country. I never thought I would even consider it, but there I was, planning the whole thing.

On the last day of January 2008 I handed in my notice. That was it. No turning back.

In the meantime I had been sorting things out to make the biggest move of my life. Health check up, getting my first passport and buying a one way ticket to London.

Less than a week to fly to London I was busy having goodbye meals with family and friends.

Anxiety levels were high.

I had my boyfriend joining me on this crazy move but still, it was all rather scary. We had no job, no place to stay after the first week and one suitcase each to start a new life.

Expectations were high. After a friend had made the same move we were under the impression things would be relatively easy. We had no clue what we were getting ourselves into.

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