31 August 2009

Midas adventures

Midas has now become a bit of an inside / outside cat. It has become quite difficult to keep Midas confined to the house so he has been given more freedom. We keep him in overnight but in the mornings, he now regularly visits the neighbours including exploring their house.

The first time out in the morning, he had a confrontation with another cat and came in with a minor injury but he is now exploring with more comfort. Fortunately, this is quite a quiet neighbourhood although there are a number of places with dogs.

Portsmouth International Kite Festival

We decided that it was a good day to get out and enjoy an activity. With an international kite festival happening in Portsmouth, we decided that this would be a good activity for the children. Our kites are still in boxes in the storage unit so we didn't take any but then there were plenty of kites to see and enjoy.

We all took our cameras and on arrival, we walked around the the main arena taking photos. There was a large variety of kites on display. The size also varied significantly.

After two hours, the chill in the wind seemed to be getting colder so we packed up for the drive home.






24 August 2009

Swansea

Errol did some exploration of Swansea one evening during the week. This was helped by the long twilights. The city of Swansea is quite large and some of the central city is undergoing rebuilding programme. However, there are still a lot of run-down buildings and there are a lot of drab student accommodation houses close to the city. The waterfront has a new apartment / housing area that is really attractive and the eastern suburbs have houses closer to the New Zealand style. The Mumbles area on the eastern end of the bay is extremely attractive although Errol was informed it is expensive.

Even at this time of year, the Welsh countryside is green and lush and it seems to be in most of the UK. Errol can understand the hymn on "On England's pleasant pastures green." Unfortunately, on a motorway, it isn't possible to stop and take photos nor does Errol have all of his photography equipment yet but he is planning some excursions.

Swansea Castle dwarfed by British Telecom (BT) building

City sculpture, Swansea Castle, and BT building

Modern apartment block in city center

Waterfront apparments and marina

Inland Swansea from Townhill
Central city from Townhill

Mumbles pier

23 August 2009

Disappointment and possibilities

In our last blog, we were pleased that Errol had found employment even if it was a short term contract. The disappointment is that the contract was more short term than we had expected. Just when Errol was preparing to complete the work from home rather than travelling to Swansea, the project's client decided they didn't have the funds and wouldn't continue. So on Friday afternoon, the project was mothballed and Errol was back seeking work.

However, during the week, Errol had also received two interview requests with universities. One is a research role and the other a teaching role. These interviews will be conducted in the first two weeks of September. There has also been further interest from recruiters but Errol has been saying that he has a two month commitment.

Marilyn was also approached by a recruiter this week to apply for a position with a large educational trust. The dates for interviews is scheduled for mid September so we are not expecting to know the outcome of this one quickly.

We expect to receive our goods from New Zealand next week. This will mean access to more of our clothes and resources. We have hired a storage facility that we hope will allow us to unpack some items.

Midas has continued his explorations of the neighbourhood. He has worked out how to use the cat door and took the opportunity to explore. He seems to being a little more cautious about his adventures staying close to the backyard. He seems to like walking the tops of the fences and resting in the centre of the trampoline. If he hears a dog bark, he is back inside the house and usually upstairs so he is well out of the way.

11 August 2009

Slowly moving forward

It is difficult to decide when enough has happened to update the blog on our progress. However, this last week has finally seen some changes and adventures for Midas.
Midas has now escaped four times from the backyard. The last two times, he has returned partly by himself. The first two times, we went and retrieved him from the neighbours yard. They have three very large black dogs but they were inside both times. The high fences and locked gates mean that you have to get the assistance of the neighbour to retrieve him.
His third adventure saw him get to a hedge about two gardens away. There was a dog in that backyard and that trapped Midas for a while but he felt safe on the roof of a shed although still waving his paw at the dog that reached about two thirds of the way up the shed.
Late Sunday afternoon, Midas made his fourth escape again into the neighbours backyard. The dogs were inside initially but came out and chased him. He quickly learned how to jump back over the fence. He didn't wait for anyone to check that he was alright. He raced up the stairs to hide. The only problem was that he ran across the cover of their fish pond getting quite wet on the way. Now we wait to find out whether he has learnt his lesson.
Progress has been slow on the job front. Academic jobs in universities are now being advertised less often so Errol has been focussing on second tier colleges and industry positions. Although there have been a number of discussions with recruiters, only two have progressed to actual interviews with the potential employers. Both of these two companies are involved in producing e-learning systems. The first involved two telephone interviews and supposedly there is still a possibility of a face-to-face interview but Errol suspects that the employer is concerned that Errol's research focus isn't what they want. This first company was in Oxfordshire which would be within reasonable distance from our daughter's place.
The second is in Swansea, Wales which is about 130 miles away (2.5 hours by car along the M4). Progress on this one was really quick. Midday Thursday, Errol received an e-mail and by early Thursday evening, there was in place an agreement for a face-to-face interview in Swansea with the possibility of staying on for a two month contract. Through the afternoon, there was a series of interactions with the recruiter and a telephone interview with one of the people at the company.
Neither of these positions were jobs that Errol had actually applied for. They were both initiated by the recruiters. This makes quite a difference because it means that we have passed the first screening. Once passed that, the recruiter seems to work better for you.
Marilyn has applied for quite a few jobs but so far there has been no interest. We would like to think that one of those still in the pipeline would generate some interest.
To get to Swansea, we have brought a car so we are one step closer to being settled here. Since Swansea is a contract, we have decided to delay looking at purchasing a house until things are a little clearer. Errol is staying in Swansea all week for this work.