Tag Archives: Life

When My Exams Are Over….

This time next week, I’ll have finished my dreaded, life stealing CII Personal Finance exams, trying to forget about the impending results as I attempt to become a Chartered Financial Planner (funnily enough the results are due on the day of the firm’s Christmas party). I’ve been working on these exams for 5 years now, alongside my full-time job, though I’ve been qualified as a Financial Adviser for 3 of those. Now it’s time to try to secure the holy grail “Chartered” title by completing the Advanced Diploma, even though I’m going to stay well and truly behind my desk in the back office, there’s more and more pressure on us technical kids to be as qualified as we possibly can. And if you want to get anywhere, you have to work at it, right?

  
It’s boring. It’s unexciting. And it’s not easy. The course materials are dry. The text is quite literally grey. And they make it as difficult as they can for you to pass because the materials and exam sittings go for over £100 a pop for each module. Because it’s so dry and so difficult, the process has been stealing a lot of my free time. And, finally, after two 3-hour exams next week, I should be free. Unless I fail.

When I struggle to concentrate, I find my mind drifting to all the things I could be doing with my time, so I thought I’d share some of my autumn/winter plans with you, even if it’s just to stop them swimming around my mind! It’s quite therapeutic to think about all the things you’re looking forward to!

  
1. Cook more! At the beginning of the year, I started this blog to give me the motivation to keep trying new recipes. And it was going really really well, until my evenings became too squashed up to really let me think about my grocery list and take the time to approach things in a chilled and creative way. So back to the kitchen! 

2. Have a clear out. I’ve been trying to systematically tidy my flat every few months or so, this drawer one evening, that cupboard on a Sunday afternoon, and so on, but I just haven’t had the time over the last few months, so I’ve really just been keeping the place clean and tidy in plain sight. If I pass these exams, my study materials are hitting the recycling, my clothes are going to be thinned out and my junk is going in the bin. It’s going to take some work, but I’m really looking forward to the calmness of the results.

  
3. Take up Yoga. I used to take yoga classes when I was but a girl, but it fizzled out fairly quickly when my auntie got bored of taking me and I’ve had a mild inclination to start again ever since. I’ve never really been one for exercise, so yoga suited me down to the ground, but now I’m a bit fitter and into regularly pushing myself, I think it might be time to start again, especially as my Blogilates routines and leaving me a little stiff in the late evenings and mornings. I’ve been doing Blogilates for about 2 months now and I really think it’s doing wonders for my strength…we’ll see if it survives the long-term! Anyway, I’ve discovered Yoga with Adriene, a YouTuber who offers free Yoga “practice” (as she calls it). There are beginners tutorials, foundations to the trickier moves and also a 30 day series which I think I might try. She also has a couple of early morning routines as well as a bedtime routine, which is where I might start. I think there are other classes you can pay for, but you can’t really go wrong with this taster, which looks to require about 30 minutes a day. 

   
4. Read. I love reading. Adore it. Especially in the autumn and winter when it’s so cold outside, but so snug and cosy inside. Sadly, there just isn’t the time when you have two tricky exams to cram for. I actually got so excited about the prospect of the pile of books waiting for me that I came vey close to a Busted style jump looking in the window of WH Smith the other day when I remembered I’d get my hobby back. Bliss, bliss, bliss.

  
5. Plan my wedding. Yeah, I should probably get on to that.

  
6. Crafting and Sewing. My sewing machine is feeling neglected. And who doesn’t love a Christmas craft?!

7. Give more time to friends and family. While the positive result of frantic studying is that I really don’t have time to watch Strictly with my Nan, I really need to be less miserable about giving up my time… It’s just so precious when you work full-time and have lots of other things going on. 

8. Go on holiday! Hopefully with a blog to follow. Don’t worry; I plan to schedule a few to fill the gap!

Pendant le Weekend….

With the back to school fever hanging in the air, it’s time to get a bit nostalgic about returning to school when I was a kid. I love stationery. I always have. And the end of the summer holidays brought shopping for new stationery, including that elusive brand new pencil case. (Mmm…fresh box of pencils). A treat, however, which did nothing to shake off the uniform and shoe shop. 

One of the first pieces of homework we would be given, was to write a diary of our summer holidays for French and Spanish. This invariably started off “pendant les vacances, je suis allé…..avec ma famille…”. However, given I was at a public school (private school, America), everyone else has much more exciting stories than me!  J’ai fait du ski, je suis allé a Phuket avec ma soeur….all much more thrilling than “I spent most of the time at my family’s nursery school. We went to the zoo one day”. 

This weekend, my Saturday involved a trip to Broughty Ferry to see a Ron Lawson exhibition. He is my very favourite artist and I have 3 of his prints already. I won’t bore you with the details, in case it’s not your thing, but it was a nice way to spend an hour, breathing in some culture, although I suspect he thought I was some sort of raving teen fan girl the way he was speaking to me. Next, to the most low rent wedding dress shop I’ve ever encountered. And finally off to lunch at the Ship Inn, where I enjoyed a huge bowl of Cullen Skink, loaded with smoked haddock and new potatoes. Delightful. Only to arrive at my parents’ to be dragged into fixing their broadband. 

Last night, we all watched Gone Girl, which I have to admit I enjoyed, despite the ending being entirely unsatisfying, and having to go through that awkward situation of graphic sex scenes flashing up while you’re sitting with your parents. 

Sunday mornings are for glorious lie ins. Waking from a dream naturally, no alarm clock and a text from my lovely fiancé to begin our exchange of things we’ve seen on Facebook whilst trying to wake up.

  
From him. 

  
From me.

Then on to start the day, getting a workout done and onto preparing healthy lunches for the rest of the week. Finally some time to rest, reading in a sunbeam, before supper, ironing and off to bed ready (or not so ready) for another week, hoping to wake up to sun.

Nevertheless, weekends at the end of summer still have that melancholy feeling once you’re an adult, even though you’re at work all the days in between. No more sneaky drinks outside a bar on the way home; no more barbecues promised when it’s likely to rain, every second person in the supermarket lugging about boxes of beer and basket full of rolls; fewer and fewer colleagues talking about how difficult it will be for them to be at the airport to fly off the Spain at 2am the very next day. 

Personally, I’m celebrating the last few weekends of buying piles of salads to make light summery lunches, which take hours to prepare and eat, at looking gleefully across at the mountains of paperbacks which have been abandoned in favour of “doing things” at the weekend. Bugger that! Bring on the cold, the wind and the rain. Bring on afternoons in front of a good film while the sky storms around the house. Bring on British winter misery!

The best part of autumn, for me, is the change in farm produce, from cucumbers, strawberries and lettuces, to squash and leeks and potatoes. I think the autumn is my very favourite time for cooking: giant pots of soup, hearty casseroles and pies, with the smell of the first frost in the air, but while the golden glow of autumn remains.  Sundays in the kitchen in front of a bubbling pot is so much like home, and so far from chopping fresh and zesty foreign ingredients. 

  
The only challenge will be keeping up the healthy eating with all that pastry around!