Covid-19

28th March 2020

This is the first weekend since the announcement of the lockdown. I am amazed and speechless when I see the behaviour of some people who don’t seem to take it seriously! Starting with the management team of the estate I am working/living on who, the morning after the announcement, told us it was “business as usual”! I can’t believe how smart people aren’t capable of taking sensible decisions in times like these, especially when you can see what it is like in other countries in Europe and all over the world.

Yet, yesterday, I heard that some people in the area were going to play tennis together in the evening. They think they are safe because they are friends and it is a small community and they live in the countryside. They have not understood yet that anyone can catch the virus, no one is safe! With that kind of behaviour, who knows what type of measures they will take to protect themselves when they go to buy food or outside on their daily exercise?!

Anyone can have the virus without getting the symptoms and therefore can transmit it to someone else and spread it. It is life or death and people need to wake up and take their responsibilities seriously in order to save themselves, their family and friends, their country and the world. This is a serious matter!

People like me, who are interested in spirituality, expected something like this to happen. By reading a lot and communicating with people who share the same interest, I have come to understand that the Earth’s energy level has been elevating in recent decades and that people’s energy levels have also been elevating in order to fit in to this “new Earth”. Unfortunately, those who won’t be able to fit in will “disappear”.

Knowing that for a while now, and knowing for the last few years that the vibrations and changes on Earth were accelerating, I knew it wouldn’t take long before something that would kill a lot of people would happen. I don’t know why but I always expected a flood, not a global virus.

What reassures me is my belief that anyone of us who is dying is going back to the universe and will be taken care of. Death is not the end; it is a new beginning to another life.

I also think that this is a wake-up call. We have not been treating our planet as we should. We have been abusing everything and taking it for granted, except the Earth has had enough and expects more respect from us. We need to come back to what is essential and get back to nature. Live a simpler life and get rid of what is not essential, find our true values again: natural food, good health, spending time with friends and family in “real life” and not behind a screen, not being in the past nor the future but in the moment, laughing a lot!


The Estate

Sunday March 8th, 2020

The interview at the bank went very well but after a few weeks I received an email saying that they didn’t need anyone after all…

Working in a factory is… I don’t know what word will describe it best. You don’t see the light of day; everything is monitored, even the time you spend on the toilet! Your breaks are announced by the horrible sound of a bell that makes you feel like you are in a prison and, after your first two weeks, if you are not productive enough, you are fired.

I don’t remember how long I worked in the factory, maybe a couple of months, but I remember very well going to the second interview for the caretaker position with Aidan and staying overnight in this tiny little cottage with the feeling of being home; like this job will be for us no matter what. I didn’t want to share this feeling with Aidan at first, but after a while I did and he told me he had the same feeling. We knew deep inside that the job would be ours. It didn’t prevent us from feeling stressed waiting for an answer though. And after a long wait of a few weeks, we had the confirmation we were waiting for: we were the new caretakers of the estate!

We started our new positions in August 2018. We were staying in the tiny little cottage from our second interview and it felt like paradise. We spent nine months in this cottage as the official caretakers’ cottage was being renovated. Once the work was done, we moved in and it was a blast. It is a little cottage, a “dolls’ house”, as the chairman of the estate likes to call it. But big enough to allow us to have Lucy, our Labrador, who we got a few weeks after getting Patch and Smokey, our little cats. They were all born the same week of the same year so it was nice to see them growing up together. All of them are now ten months old. We are a family.

Work on the estate is good. Sometimes quiet and sometimes hectic. I love working outside. It is not a conventional estate, it is quite unique; my caretaker role consists of being a housekeeper, a gardener, a beekeeper, a cook, an electrician, a car cleaner, a farmer, and so on. I am a professional in none of these categories, except for housekeeping, but I am learning as I go, with the owner of the estate paying for all the training that we need.

Despite all of this, after almost two years working on this estate, I call it being “stuck in paradise”. As I am still on duty I can’t say much more, but a month after our start Aidan and I understood that we had fallen into a trap, and since then we have been planning our “escape”. Me more than Aidan, who seems to cope better with the downsides that come with working/living on the estate. The problem is mostly human relations related and it affects me more than him. Yet a feeling of guilt has seized me as I recognise the beauty of this place and the luck we have to be a part of it. Not to mention how flexible our jobs are, and after working in a factory I have absolutely no right to complain!

Now, four days after my 37th birthday, we are back from the Highlands and the plan for the future is to buy a piece of land to build our house and start our own business, which would consist of a little bit of everything: campsite/wigwams, café, beekeeping/selling honey, growing/selling fruits and vegetables, and so on. In order to do that, Aidan needs first to sell his flat, which will be free by the end of this month when the tenant moves out. And that will be the start of our new adventure.

Job Opportunities

Saturday, June 16th 2018

I am lost again. A month and a half ago I quit my job as a housekeeping supervisor. It was too much pressure for me and I had a problem with the lack of organisation of the hostel as well as with the communication between the manager and the teams of different departments. I had problems with my team; they thought I was too individual and I thought they were not working to the best of their abilities. So, I quit.

I went to a lot of recruitment agencies to try to find an administrative job, but except for working in call centres there is not much. Eventually, I got a phone call from one of the agencies. The job is to work in a call centre for a bank. I went to a meeting where I sat with three other people and listened to a woman making a presentation of the bank we could maybe work for. It was followed by a presentation of the recruitment agency itself. After filling in loads of paperwork, I was told that I will receive a phone call the next week to indicate the next step. The next week I had a phone call to tell me that the position I applied for was “on hold” and I was asked if I agreed to submit my CV to the same bank but for a different position. I said yes. I was again told that I will receive a phone call the next week to indicate the next step. The next week I received an email to tell me that I will have an interview the following Monday.

In the meantime, after a month of unemployment, I started to run out of money. I thought the quickest way to find a job was to go to a recruitment agency to work in a factory. I didn’t know at the time that the agency I went to was working for only one big company. I had a group meeting that was unbelievable, in the bad sense of the term! We were about twenty people sitting in a waiting room which included computers and two desks. We had to fill in loads of paperwork before being interviewed. The interview took place at one of the two desks that was in the waiting room, in front of everyone. It consisted of knowing if you had any health problems and were fit to work in a factory. Then, they give you a quick test which consists of answering simple questions of logic, and then you take an alcohol and drug test. To finish, you give them your logic test back, which they never look at, before they ask the group: “ok, who can start tomorrow?”. For those who couldn’t the answer was: “Ok, you can go home, we will give you a call if there is space next week”. This group meeting lasted three hours! I had a phone call yesterday; I can start next Monday.

Still, in the meantime… I’ve always wanted to go back to the west coast of Scotland. Fewer people, fewer cars, fewer buses, quieter and more peaceful. Aidan, who has his family and friends on the east coast, was not really keen on the idea. Nonetheless, he loves travelling the west coast and the Highlands on his motorbike. After a weekend away, he came back and showed me a job advert for a couple to work on an estate as caretakers on the west coast. We sent our applications and they contacted us. We went to the interview yesterday. If we are successful, it will be a total change of life. We will live on the estate in a cottage. It’s a remote place by the sea not far from Oban! We are waiting for a phone call at the beginning of next week. If we are successful, we will be invited to a second interview but this time we will sleep over to get the feel of the place.

And this is where I am lost. We have headed to the west coast for this interview, I am having an interview to work for a bank in a call centre next Monday at 10am and on the same day at 1pm I will start a new job in a factory in Dunfermline. As much as I want this job on the west coast, it scares me as it would be a total change of life. Even though this is the kind of life I would be very happy to live, it would be an enormous change! Not to mention that it would be the first time Aidan and I have lived together.

Aidan

June 2017

Still no car nor bicycle, but I do have all the gear for my camera. At work, everything is fine. The hostel I am working for is a worldwide brand. One of them, on the isle of Mull is situated in the little town of Tobermory. Mull is an island which is an hour’s crossing from Oban. As it is a very small hostel, there are only two members of staff. When one is going on holiday, someone from our hostel goes there to replace them. I wanted a change and the chance to go to a Scottish island, so I asked my manager if I could be the one to go and she said yes.

I don’t know about Scotland but in my country, there is a saying that goes, “love happens when you least expect it”. I’ve always found this saying stupid because, like I said to my cousin, how can it happen when you least expect it when you expect it at all times? Anyway, on an island, in a little town, it was the first time in my life that I really, really, really didn’t expect love to find me!

I put on my walking shoes, which were at the time almost ready for the bin, my old blue jeans and my waterproof jacket. No make-up. Arriving in the town of Craignure by boat, I took the bus that would take me to Tobermory. It started pouring rain and I was soaked by the time I arrived at the hostel. Bad luck: the hostel was closed and was re-opening at 5pm. It was 2pm. Fortunately, the waiting room was open. I decided to leave my luggage there and look for food in town. It was still pouring rain after my lunch so I decided to wait at the hostel. In the waiting room were a group of motor bikers who had arrived whilst I was having my lunch. We introduced ourselves and started to talk; they were trying to explain to me the part of Scotland they were from. Seeing that I didn’t understand what they were telling me, one of them came to sit next to me to show me on Google Maps. They were from the East coast, the region of East Lothian, bordering Edinburgh. This guy was very nice, as were his friends. Then, a couple of French people came in. I had met them previously at the hostel in Oban, where they were customers. We all started to chat and then the motor bikers decided to go for a beer. I had to stay and I was sad to see this nice guy leaving. But, obviously, they were staying in this hostel so I would see him again. Besides, they invited the French couple and me to join them later on for a drink at the pub.

We all met again at the pub in the evening. I was sitting far from this nice guy, but as the night wore on, more and more people went to bed, which was very convenient as it left the French couple, me, this nice guy and his best friend. The nice guy’s name was Aidan. We started to talk and couldn’t stop. We all came back to the hostel where we exchanged contact info in case we did not see each other the next morning. We got lucky though and saw each other again the next day and had breakfast together. He explained to me that he would like to get to know me better and I said the same. Since that day we have exchanged numerous text messages and phone calls getting to know each other. I went to Edinburgh a few times to see him and he came to Oban. After a few dates, I had a boyfriend!

I didn’t want to tell him at the time, but I had made the decision to move back to Edinburgh to take a photography class and find an English teacher to improve my English. He was now another reason for me to go to Edinburgh. I found a flat in Dunfermline, which is in the county of Fife (30min from Edinburgh) and I was transferred from the hostel in Oban to the hostel in Edinburgh, but this time as a housekeeping supervisor. My life has finally started to take shape.

Need To Reconnect With Nature

Tuesday, April 25 2017

I went to town to buy a bicycle but I realised that with not having a home and not being sure of staying in Oban at the end of my contract, it was wiser not to buy one.

I discovered a very interesting blog to teach myself the basics of photography. I haven’t been to any of the islands yet, as I am waiting to buy more equipment for my camera and for good weather to do the crossing. In Oban, in the only camera shop of the town, I was told I had to go to Glasgow to buy all the camera gear I need.

I think the ideal would be to have a car, then I could even go to the islands if I want to reach the most remote hiking tracks. I’ve made up my mind: I am going to buy a car. And then, a bicycle.

Work is going very well. The team is nice and I love meeting customers, getting to know which country they come from, and what they are doing in Scotland. There are a lot of French people.

The most difficult part is the loneliness. Leaving everything, travelling alone and settling in another country can sometimes be difficult emotionally. I have to say that lately I’ve been a little bit sad and feeling lonely.

It’s time for me to cross the ocean and go hiking on the islands. I need to reconnect with who I am in order not to let the sadness eat me alive.

Finally Settled

Sunday, April 9th 2017

Back to Scotland, in Glasgow, after a week spent at my flat in France, I am now waiting for the bus that will take me back home to Oban.

From Dundee, I had sent my CV to a hostel in Oban, as they were looking for a receptionist. When I arrived in Oban, I decided to stay in the hostel I had applied at. Two weeks later, after an interview, the manager tells me that I’ve got the job and that I will start on the 10th of April, working until the end of October in a full-time position. I am over the moon because, since my first day in Oban, I have felt at home. Ocean, boats, hiking, views of some islands…As of next week, I will move to the flat situated at the back of the hostel where three other employees already live. The rent is £60 per month, bills included.

So that’s the reason why I went back to France: to empty my flat and give the key back. I went to see my cousin and my friends. I have no regrets about leaving this country, but I am sad to leave my flat as it is the first flat in which I’ve felt I thrived and where I rebuilt myself. I am going to miss my cousin and my friends, but I know I will see them again one day. I couldn’t see my mum or the rest of my family this time but I will miss them a lot.

Anyway, here I am, back to Scotland, tired and wondering if I have taken the right decision. I KNOW it’s the right decision but I am afraid. What to expect? Am I going to make it in this job? Is everything going to be ok living in this flat with my co-workers? Will I make friends? One thing is for sure, I will take a lot of photographs with my first brand new camera, and I will hike and buy a bicycle.

Looking For The Right Place

Friday, March 24th 2017

Aviemore.

After two days, I was crying. I had nothing in common with the people at the hostel nor those in the village. Everyone was there to hike or climb mountains. They go to bed at 8.30pm and get up at 6.30am! The third day, Natalie arrived. She is from Glasgow. We went shopping so I could get walking shoes and a proper coat. With her car we went to Glenmore Forest and to Loch Morlich to hike. I really enjoyed it! She was walking faster than me but I really fell in love with it.

Then Claire arrived in Aviemore. She is from Dundee. She explained to me that there was a lot of jobs in her town and how beautiful it was with the river, the ocean and the countryside across the bridge. I had to go to St Andrews, it was my next destination because, although Aviemore gave me the love of hiking, it was too small of a town for me. St Andrews is across the bridge from Dundee so I decided to go to Dundee.

Dundee.

The fourth biggest city of Scotland, Dundee does not exist in my tourist guides. Claire warned me that it was not a city for tourism. Indeed, the city had not much attraction except its ocean and countryside. I didn’t find people particularly warm. The next day I went to spend the day in St Andrews. It’s a lovely little town well-known for golf. Back in Dundee, I wasn’t feeling comfortable in the hostel, the city’s only one… No ambiance, no communication between people… I decided to leave one day before schedule to go back to Edinburgh for a day to see my friends from the hostel. I also needed to pick up my mail, which included my national insurance number, without which I can’t work in Scotland and which is necessary to open a bank account.

The rest of my plan was to spend the weekend in Glasgow to attend a forum on hiking in the mountains and then go to the town of Oban, but once in Edinburgh I felt too tired and I preferred to stay to rest and enjoy being with my friends.

The following week I was on my way to Oban, a harbour town situated on the west coast of Scotland in the Highlands, and the entrance gate to the islands. There are a lot of places to hike and bicycle.

First goal, find a job. Plan B, go to Fort William. Plan C, go back to Edinburgh.

Still Trying

Friday, March 10th 2017

I haven’t got the job at the call centre. Everything went well but I showed my lack of confidence regarding my English level.

Last week was my birthday. My friends at the hostel offered me chocolate cupcakes and a bottle of rum. They are utterly adorable. In the meantime, I received another phone call to work in a call centre and it got me thinking, because for my previous interview I had to buy high heels, a black jacket and put on a dress. It is not me at all! I was not comfortable and, therefore, not confident at all, and even though I don’t know what to do with my life, I know that I don’t want a job where I have to fake being someone I am not. I don’t think I am made to live in a city. I still have enough money to try somewhere else.

When I went to Inverness a few weeks ago, the bus to go back to Edinburgh stopped in Aviemore. It’s a town situated in the national park of the Cairngorms. The bus stopped only a few minutes but I had the time to fall in love with this little town surrounded by the mountains. In Inverness, I was told that I would have more chances of finding a job in Edinburgh, so looking for a job in Aviemore seems hopeless.  Not knowing what to do right now though, I have decided to follow my heart.

Visiting And Job Searching

Wednesday, March 1st 2017

It’s been 2 weeks since I arrived in Edinburgh, Scotland. I fell in love with this country as soon as I arrived. The feeling, long sought, of feeling like “home”.

The first week I went to explore the city. I visited the castle and its museum, which moved me. It is dedicated to Scottish soldiers.

Staying in a hostel, I have met people from everywhere around the world (Japan, China, New-Zealand, South Korea, Nigeria, Mexico, but mainly Spanish people). As usual I am sociable but I like to be by myself, especially to get used to my surroundings and people.

The second week I explored the country. I visited the city of Stirling. It is a very charming little town with its castle and the National Wallace Monument and its 246 steps that take you to the summit. Then I went to visit Aberdeen, on the East coast. Not much to say about this town because I spent most of my time on the beach enjoying the blue sky and sunshine. Then I went to the town of Inverness, the capital of the Highlands. I saw huge mountains with their summits in the clouds and covered with snow, little rivers running from the top to our feet. To end my tour, I left Inverness by coach and passed by Loch Ness, which looks like an ocean more than a loch. From there I reached the town of Portree on the Isle of Skye on the West coast.

I’ve been back to Edinburgh for three days now. It was time for me to look for a job. One week was obviously not enough so I gave myself a little more time to find my place in this country. I went to the hospital, but all applications are done online. I went to the castle, but recruitment is only done once a year and it ended in February. I’ve been asked to come back next year… Yesterday I went to job centres, but all they have got is housekeeping jobs – they couldn’t offer me any more opportunities because I need at least six months of professional experience in the country. Feeling the tears filling my eyes and discouragement on the horizon, I turned my “warrior” mode on and went to tourism agencies to be a tour guide. No success either…

Back at the hostel, I was overtaken by a big loss of confidence and so I told myself that I will accept being a housekeeper because I won’t find anything better and I have to find a job quickly before I run out of money. It is absolutely out of the question that I go back to France. Then, after a moment, I was back in my warrior state of mind and so I went online to apply for jobs at the hospital. Unfortunately, nothing was fitting my skills. Last option before starting a housekeeping career: call centres.

I applied to two jobs online. It’s to work in call centres and speak in French. Yesterday, they phoned me for an interview. I went this morning and it’s actually a recruitment agency that has got two jobs for me. I took an hour’s test and they gave me another appointment in a week to prepare the interview, which will be held the following week with the team leaders of each of the two companies. I am relieved that everything went well today; it has given me more confidence, even though I know that nothing is done yet. But after all the downs in looking for a job, a day like this makes me feel good.

Where To?

Saturday, February 4th 2017

I am afraid. Afraid to fail, afraid to not get what I want. I always organise things in order to succeed but when it comes to going one step forward in the right direction, I am scared and sure that my dreams won’t come true.

Yet, it will not be the first time I have tried for something. I have already changed my life numerous times, especially when I went to Australia for a year. Back then, I had left everything (flat, car, job, family and friends). The only difference this time is that I have found a kind of balance in my life with a flat that I love and a job I’m passionate about. Unfortunately, this job is coming to an end and I have just left my flat.

I have never fitted my country and the way it works, whether in the work field, the school system or even the mentality of the people who have developed a moaning and negative point of view on everything around them. They are never content with what they have and always want more, therefore passing by all the simple pleasures in life.

My year in Australia has confirmed that I wasn’t made for the French system. Nonetheless, with my visa expired, I had to go back to my country. But there were three things I was now sure of: I couldn’t live too far from my mum, I was definitely sure that I didn’t want to live in my country, and I was missing the Celtic culture (I spent most of my life in Brittany, which is the Celtic region of France).

Last November, I was on my way to Ireland to explore. Beautiful country with very good music but I didn’t fall in love. I then thought about Canada where there are Celtic regions, but the visa is difficult to get so I preferred to stay in Europe.

The choice I have made is Scotland. More precisely, Edinburgh. I will go for a week to try to find a job. I will try a new field: tourism. The thought of failure scares me. If it doesn’t work, I will go back to square one and I will be stuck in France forever.

The real reason I am afraid is because in a month I will be 34 and I feel the need to find a balance in my life. I don’t have money and soon won’t have a job anymore… I think now a husband, children and a house are part of the dream world, but I want at least to find a job that I thrive in, a flat I feel happy to live in and some friends, and to live near the mountains or the sea.

Deep inside me I can hear a panicked voice saying: “but what the hell are you going to do in Scotland? One week?! You think you will make it in one week?”