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I Met Patrick Stewart!

About a week ago, I received an alert about a gala event happening in support of Unique Voice, a charity in Bristol that works with schools and the community to “empower children emotionally through the use of Drama and the Arts” (source: About Us section of their website). Their Patron is Sir Patrick Stewart, and he would be hosting their Summer Gala.

I wanted to go.

With everything that’s been going on, and all the other things we have planned this year, it wasn’t looking like a possibility until someone close to me decided they wanted to purchase a ticket for me to attend. They have asked that I not say publicly who they were, but they are someone I love very much. My ticket arrived in my inbox a few days ago, and I became excited.

I decided to wear my LindyBop dress because it gives me confidence and I love the way it looks on me. I wore it with the underskirt this time for extra poof, and added a little feathery blue clip in my hair to try to dress it up a bit. I didn’t clean up too bad if I say so myself!

I was sat at a table with 9 strangers, but fortunately, they were all amazing and immediately drew me into their fold as they all knew each other. I can’t remember everyone’s names (sorry!) but table 9 had a blast. We shared stories and laughed and it was like I had been friends with these people for years and not just minutes.

One of the organizers recognized me from my Twitter photo and we had a short conversation with a promise to talk later, but we sadly never got the chance…but I’m sure I’ll be around again as I really like this charity and wish we lived closer to Bristol so I could work with them!

There were signs on the table telling us not to ask Patrick for selfies, but to take photos and to share them on social media. I took a few from my vantage point that didn’t really come out the best, but I’ll share them here anyway.

After dinner, Patrick was coming around to the individual tables to talk to everyone – the room had 13 tables of 10, but at least two of the tables were all people related to/working with the organisation, so it was an intimate gala. When he got to our table, he was on the other side from me and chatting and one of the men at our table said “She’s come all the way from New Jersey to see you!” I called back “He’s lying, I live here, I promise,” but Patrick Stewart came over to speak with me. His hand came down on the back of my chair and he said, “You know, I used to be married to someone from New Jersey.” I answered back in the only way I possibly could – “Well, then on behalf of my home state, I do apologize.” He laughed and stretched out his hand to shake mine.

Our minute was over…or was it?

During the auction, I was trying to win one of the items – all winning bidders would get a picture with Sir Pat – but it got too high for me. Especially when he auctioned off breakfast with him the following morning and it went for £350!

The rest of the night there was dancing, drinking, and talking to my new group of friends. After the Gala, we went to a speakeasy, and that was a new experience for me too.

In the morning, I had breakfast in the same restaurant Patrick Stewart was in, and after I was standing outside waiting for my taxi and he came out. He had his suitcase, and we made polite conversation. We both were complaining about how long it was taking our taxis to show up and he said he was trying to catch a train at a specific time. Since I have the ability to take whatever train I want, I offered him my taxi when it showed up first. He thanked me, and I had another handshake.

Ironically, his taxi turned up only about 30 seconds later. When I got to the railway station, I needed to speak with the gate attendant to be waved through the barriers. Who was standing there talking to the man? None other than Patrick Stewart! I made some silly joke about meeting again, and we both went through the barriers and started heading in the same direction. More jokes about “I’m not following you/You’re not following me” and the like and it turned out we would be boarding the same train. We both went into the waiting room, but when they called our train, I noticed he went out the door for the opposite platform.

When I didn’t spot him on the platform, I thought I had better let him know, so I walked over to him and gently tapped him on the shoulder to let him know. He thanked me with a hand pressed against my shoulder and another handshake.

These small encounters with one of my absolute favourite actors will stay with me for a long time, even without photos of the event. Who can forget getting three handshakes within a 12 hour span?

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First two images from Unique Voice on Twitter.

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Harassed at a Railway Show

(Yes, I took this in the loo on the train.)

Over the weekend, my husband and I did a whirlwind of things – we went up to Yorkshire, we went to London, and we even made it to Wales. But my worst experience out of the whole weekend had to be our visit to the London Festival of Railway Modelling at Alexandra Palace. Now, my problem had nothing to do with the show itself – in fact, I enjoyed the layouts (when I could get in to see them) and I got to meet a Twitch streamer Tim and I watch and while we only purchased a single book at the show, there were plenty of stands we would have made purchases at if we had unlimited spending!

My problem was with the people attending the show. More specifically, with men.

Whenever we attend these more generic modelling shows, I never see a lot of women, unless they are assisting their husbands with their stands or being dragged around by a child or spouse. This means there is never a queue for the loo, but it also means that seeing a woman is a rarity. Probably even more rare to find one wearing a skirt (my preferred clothing choice). But it doesn’t excuse the behavior of some of the men I encountered.

I got looked at. Looks, I can handle, and I’ll even smile back. But a double take? Inappropriate. Looking a third time and then doing a weird winking, tongue clicking “here’s looking at you, kid” kind of thing….not ever appropriate. Nor is it appropriate to repeat it a second time.

It also is OK if you accidentally brush up against breasts when you’re trying to move in a crowd. You just apologize to the person and you’re fine. It is, however, not OK to either not apologize or smirk. 50% of the population (give or take) have boobs. Those of us with boobs know they can get in the way and know it’s usually an accident if someone brushes against them. Also, while we’re on the subject – boobs are there and there’s nothing those of us with them can do to conceal them, so looking down someone’s top is also not appropriate.

In addition to the incidents above (of which I was boob brushed at least three times and I actually yelled at the triple take tounge clicker the second time), there also was the rude shoving. One guy was even pressed up against my back trying to shove past me and that’s just not on. USE YOUR WORDS. Say excuse me if you need to get by, or wait your turn. At one point, the crowd was getting thick and I was following Tim and there was another couple about a foot away from me and this man just decided to barge past us and shoved me (and touched my boob in the process). I mean…really? It’s a model rail show. THE MODELS AREN’T GOING ANYWHERE. With the exception of a few bespoke items, chances are the stands aren’t going to run out of whatever it is you wanted to buy.

So here are my tips for attending railway shows. Or sci-fi conventions. Or…you know what…these are just general tips for being in groups of people —

1. Don’t ogle people.
2. If you accidentally touch someone, apologize.
3. Don’t ogle people.

Simple!

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Renting Space in Your Brain

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I’ve been a user of the internet in all of its many forms since the mid 90s, and since then I have had my fair share of trolls and mean comments – usually simple one offs like “I don’t like your voice” left on a video (which is ironic when I have acted and sang semi professionally!). But in my history of using the internet and becoming a content creator, I can count on one hand the number of people who just don’t know when to stop and start to become a nuisance . The first incident happened around 15 years ago and was a guy my husband and sister dubbed “Batteries” and things got so bad with him and his threats that I did have to go to the police. The second was about 10 years ago, and it might have been more than one person but at any rate, the result was *me* getting banned from a useful website I posted on and I had to speak with the police about the harassment. Then we delve into the land of psycho expats with more than one just losing their shit and stalking several fellow expats…and now we get to the most recent, ridiculous harassment/trolling efforts of someone who…well, they’re anon as far as I know. They do have internet handles, but I’m not going to mention them out of politeness.

Here’s where we get to the title of my post – Renting space in your brain. It’s incredible how ONE SINGLE COMMENT can kill you. For example, ONE music director in 2002 didn’t like my voice and I didn’t sing for 10 years. These comments weren’t about my singing, but another way I contribute to the arts – these comments were on the words I wrote.

The first comment came in September on my account over on Fanfiction.net. It was from a fellow “author”, and it was nasty and harrassive. FFN doesn’t let you remove nasty comments from registered users, so I simply deleted (And later re-posted) the story the comment had been left on and blocked the user id. Speaking to a fellow reader, I found out that the author in question “does this to any author who writes better than them and has a following”. Ok, so it was down to sheer jealousy then. Fine, whatever. I kept publishing.

I made the move to Archive of Our Own a few months ago after I finally got my invite to the site. I moved over much of my fic from FFN, but I also made an announcement on FFN that I was going to be posting on AO3 and if I wasn’t updating on FFN, to check me on AO3 and I listed my AO3 pseudo – AnnaOnTheMoon.

AO3 allows you to screen comments before they are posted, and a few came in from a person. Again, they were filled with harassment and well, they tried to tell me what I should write. Like, telling me “You need to write blahblahblah and blahblahblah needs to happen.” My response wanted to be “Go write it yourself”, but instead I just deleted the messages, figuring they would get the hint that I wasn’t interested in their “orders”. Other readers left comments requesting different storylines and if I felt I could write them, I did.  But when someone demanded I do something or another…no. AO3 doesn’t have a block feature, so I just had to delete the comments as they came in.

Finally, they stopped using their registered profile, and swapped to posting anon. And funny enough, the only reason I found out they were the same person was due to what they wrote in their comments when they referenced “a lack of negative feedback”.  Now, why would you assume someone even had negative feedback unless you had been the one who tried to leave it in the first place under your other nom de plume?

It was at this point I turned to getting advice from Author Dayton Ward on Twitter:

Dayton Ward was right. Just ignore, ignore, ignore. Don’t let them have space in my brain. But…it was hard. Especially with the comments that were coming through. At one point, they seemed to blame me for the entire Picard/Crusher fandom.

They decided that a fic I wrote called “The Comment Box” was about them. The fic itself was a tongue in cheek story about the ridiculous comments that are posted on Trek pages. Their response? Dedicating a story to me (and a friend of mine who is a big supporter of my writing.)

They thought they were writing an opt-ed. Uhm…no.  They also decided to steal my own tag of tongue in cheek, because…well, why not.

They admitted they had been reading me on FFN and had been the FFN user I blocked. They claimed to have “Been stalked in high school” (I also should note, that basing their age on what they mention in their own author’s notes, they aren’t much out of HS) and yet they decided to stalk me. (oh, and told me my depiction of stalking was wrong, because the way they were stalked is the absolute only way things ever happen)

The story got weird. I was Queen of the kingdom who churned out shit, but then I also inspire people? But the gem had to have been where I basically get blamed for the entire fandom.

I mean…what now?  But this “fic” was the final straw, and I contacted the AO3 admins and reported the story and the user for harassment.

…but I still can’t get their comments out of my head.  It’s poisoned my story, just like it poisoned one of my previous stories.  At this point, I want to either abandon the story (and the series as it’s second in a series), or delete it.  But if I delete it, I doubt I’ll ever re-write it, so then that also means that months of work will just be down the toilet because I can’t evict this asshole from my brain.

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*sigh* Hopefully, by getting this all out, I will be able to evict them once and for all and return to my writing…because how does that phrase go? The best revenge is a life well lived?

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+Meme made by me, screenshot from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
++Meme by Swear Trek
All other screenshots are from Archive Of Our Own or my own Email and Twitter accounts. 

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An Evening with Sir Patrick Stewart


A little over a month ago, my Google Alert for Patrick Stewart (shut up) went off with an interesting alert – Sir Patrick Stewart would be giving a talk during the Huddersfield Literature Festival. Tickets were £15, and I hadn’t yet seen it pop up on Twitter.

…So I blagged front row tickets. And then I waited…and waited..and waited for the day…and OH, was it worth it!

I had a bit of a panic on Thursday when I started to read the weather report for both Yorkshire and Lincolnshire. Snow. But not until the wee hours, so we would likely be fine. To be on the safe side, we packed sleeping bags, extra warm clothing (hats, scarfs, fleeces), water,and snacks into the back of the car just in case the snow turned into a second Beast and we had to sleep in the car.

Our day started off with a walk through Huddersfield. There was an international food fair going on, so we checked that out and we headed to the Town Hall to make sure we knew where we would need to be and we scoped out the place we were meeting up with some friends for dinner before settling down into a local coffee shop (I’ve forgotten the name!) for a cup of Tea. Earl Grey. Hot. (Naturally.)

We met up with friends for dinner at the Zephyr. None of us were familiar with the place. The food was…ok. I had a Cajun grilled chicken burger and there was no spice at all on my chicken, which was disappointing. But the Strawberry gin was good.

We all were scattered around the auditorium, so we parted in the lobby and Tim and I headed to our seats. I still didn’t think it was real…I would actually see one of my heros live on stage? Talking? Telling us about his life and career?

When Nick introduced Sir Pat, he explained that Patrick agreed to photos during the first five minutes (and he even posed for pics), and then asked for phones/cameras to be put away and asked that it wasn’t recorded. In fact, we were told if anyone did get caught with their phone held up during the talk, they would be kicked out. I did spot one guy on the balcony out of the corner of my eye holding up a phone though, so if any footage gets posted online I’ll link it.

Patrick Stewart was brilliant. He warned us that he didn’t give short answers, so there weren’t a whole lot of questions asked, but the stories the man told…it was worth it. I’d have gladly sat there for another hour..two….three…just listening to his stories. Perhaps one day he’ll publish a memoir (and Mr Stewart, if you’re reading this, Please can I edit it?)

We even got a rare treat! Not one accent,not two, but three accents! Sir Pat imitated a local accent when he was telling us about his interview to receive a scholarship to attend the Old Vic (and apologized for it being bad, though as a non-local I couldn’t tell), and then he gave us “Space, ze final frontiere” in a French accent. I have to say, I’m quite happy Paramount didn’t make him use a French accent! His third accent was a recreation of his role in 1967 on Coronation Street, plating a Fireman from Lancashire.

We also learned his favourite episode is the Inner Light (though the questioner asked “What’s your favourite Enterprise episode, so I’m not sure if the questioner was confused over which series Sir Pat was in!). This is honestly no surprise to me as it is an incredible episode and it’s made even better by the appearance of Daniel Stewart playing his son!

Sir Patrick told us about his early days in acting, about meeting and becoming bezzies with Sir Ian McKellen, and how he felt when he was on the BBC’s Who Do You Think You Are and discovered more about his father. We also learned that the two charities he is patron for are in memory of his parents – Refuge for his mother and Combat Stress for his father.

And speaking of his early days in acting – did you know he lied his way into gaining his scholarship? Naughty Patrick! But I think he paid his debt in full back to Yorkshire in the end when he became Chancellor of the Huddersfield Uni.

I’m still giggling over his (former) hair piece having been flown across the atlantic specifically for his audition for Captain Picard…and then it was never used. While he did mention he wore a hair piece in one episode (Violations, in a flashback Beverly has), he didn’t specify if it was the same one or styled the same way. Hmm. Something to ask him in the future, perhaps?

Sir Patrick said in an interview on BBC Radio Leeds on Thursday that his favourite childhood book was Treasure Island…and I really think he should record an audiobook for it, don’t you?

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All in all, it was an incredible evening. Sadly, I didn’t get to ask him my question. I wanted to ask him to give advice to those of us in the arts (Performing, writing, creating) who face criticism and how you can bounce back from it…but it wasn’t meant to be and I’ll hopefully get to see him again and ask.

It started to snow on the way home. Not a significant amount, but enough to be annoying.

Thanks Huddersfield Literature Festival for having him, and THANK YOU Sir Patrick Stewart for speaking with us!

You are, forever, O Captain my Captain.

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+Photo by Neil Armstrong.

The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission.

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The Beast From The East Strikes Lincolnshire

It’s a November kind of February…well, now March.

When I woke up on Wednesday before my huband, I left the curtains pulled on the bedroom and glanced at the cats in the spare room on my way to the stairs. They were sharing their perch and both quite avidly watching something out the window. Merddin (the ginger boy) even tried to catch something through the glass. So I looked out and was greeted with:

Snow. Our first major snowfall of the 2017/2018 winter. They’re calling it the Beast from the East with good reason as it stretches all the way from Eastern Russia to nearly cover the entire European continent. It even snowed in Rome!

But let me back up to Tuesday, when we saw minimal snow showers and a squall or two. I happened to be in town to buy a birthday present for my aunt at M&S and when I left the shop, it had started to snow.

The snow continued in little squalls the rest of the day, and we even had one so bad the bus driver could barely see on the drive home, but it wasn’t bad overall. But at 8PM, I received a text from Tesco that my deliver was cancelled due to the snow! I wound up at the local co op where I was lucky to grab a small bottle of milk, and a 6 pack of eggs. No bread.

I went to bed thinking I would catch a bus in the morning to a grocery store since all we got was that piddly amount of snow.

Boy was I wrong!

I was cold. I layered up with thermal tights, thermal leggings, 2 thermal tops, wool and fleece socks…and my brand new Beverly Crusher onesie from Think Geek.

By the time Tim left for work, it was snowing on and off. Then, around 2PM, we seemed to have a blizzard out there.

Wednesday is Slimming World Day for me, and I usually walk to group as it’s not far away. But a recent knee injury has left me getting lifts from my friends, and for group on Wednesday, I asked my consultant if she could pick me up. I’m part of her social team, so I was able to stay to group and help her the entire evening, but not before bundling up for the cold!

My Slimming World consultant picked me up at 4 and we headed to run group as she wasn’t allowed to cancel. But I took a 6 inch ruler outside before I left to measure the snow in the garden, and it was a tiny bit over the top of the ruler.

I also had to have a little bit of fun with MiniBev and MiniPicard.

After Slimming World, we slided our way back home and I walked to the co op once more in the hopes I could pick up the missing essential grocery items. That was a big fat nope. No milk, bread, or eggs. Someone is making a lot of French toast! I did spot this single little icicle though:

When my husband left for work around 11AM for his 2-10 shift, all the hills into Lincoln were closed. He had to park the car up at the Lawn and walk on foot the rest of the way into Lincoln. Once at work, his job took him out to Ancaster, some 20 miles away. His trip home took an hour to get back to Lincoln, and then another hour to get from Lincoln to Dunholme…a distance of only five miles.

Naturally, he was unable to stop for supplies on his way home, so I could only hope the co-op would get a delivery in the morning.

As you can see, the cats are more interested in the electric blanket now than looking out at the snow.

This morning, I was relieved to see we hadn’t had any more snow overnight, however it has now become windy, which means lots of drifting snow. Still, I had hoped the co-op would have been resupplied, but according to a friend, a delivery came in early, but people were buying multiple jugs of milk, loaves of bread, and packs of eggs, leaving the shelves empty by the time I got there.

I did manage to pick up a pack of wraps, some soy milk, some chocolate milk, and a 4-pack of duck eggs. I’ve never eaten duck eggs before, but I’m assuming they will taste relatively the same. I hope. We can use the chocolate milk in our coffee and the soy milk with cereal to save the minimal regular milk for tea.

The village roads are still hit and miss. Two of the main roads (Lincoln Rd and Ryland Rd) seem relatively clear, but Honeyholes lane is a struggle and I heard several streets are still completely impassable, as we simply won’t see a plough on the smaller streets. The footpaths are walkable, if you can keep your balance on the packed down snow, and are most definitely not passable if you use any type of walking aid. The buses are even trying to run limited services again.

I’m hoping to get out tomorrow to get groceries. Tesco graciously gave me some vouchers, but I don’t want to schedule delivery until this mess has passed us over as I wouldn’t want it to get cancelled again!

Short video I took from my bedroom window:

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Hatred and Fandom in Star Trek

I know I haven’t updated properly in ages (not since before October, and then it was fanfic for #BevCrusherDay). I’m sorry. I’ve been busy. But right now, I feel like I need to write this post about hatred and fandoms. More specifically, I’m talking about the Star Trek fandom. Call us trekkies or trekkers, I really don’t care…but there’s a whole lot of hate in the fandom right now.

Don’t like the new series? Don’t watch it. You don’t have to watch week after week so you can spread your hate. And you most definitely don’t need to tweet the actors to tell them how much you hate it. No. That’s just…I’m not sure I have words. Now, I haven’t watched all of Discovery yet, because it’s something my husband and I want to watch together and we haven’t had time, so I can only speak based on what I’ve seen on the Facebook groups and Twitter. There is so much of this “this isn’t Star Trek” BS it could fill the Enterprise — all of them. My only response is – Does it have the trek logo? It’s Star Trek. It’s all part of one main franchise, people! And guess what? You don’t have to like ALL of the franchise to be a fan! You don’t even have to like the original series to be a fan!

And speaking of the original series, if I hear one more time “Your series wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for TOS!” Don’t you think we know that? But acknowledging TOS as the granddaddy of our franchise doesn’t mean it has to be my favourite series. And you can’t really compare Discovery to TOS. TOS was made in the 60s, for chrissake. It was the best sci-fi out there FOR ITS ERA. Yes, it has cheesy effects, the storylines are dated, the model ships look funny….but this is how sci fi was done in the 60s. You have to suspend some of your modern ideas when you watch TOS and try to be a person from the 60s watching it. And if you still think its awful, look for other sci fi series from that era and you’ll soon see that TOS was actually the best.

Move forward to the 80s and 90s of TNG, DS9, and VOY and the effects still won’t compare to the resources someone has in 2018. (And I’m saying that as a die hard TNG fan)

Or compare the Harry Potter films with Fantastic Beasts. FB takes place over 50 years before Harry Potter is even born, yet the effects in FB far outstrip HP. Why? Because HP was made in the early 00s, and FB was made in 2016. Yes, just a small time frame of FIVE YEARS separate the last HP film being made from the first FB film, and the effects have gotten better. OR we could look at Rogue One compared to A New Hope. Again, SAME THING. Film and TV makers aren’t going to take steps backwards with effects.

Another ridiculous amount of hate seems to be aimed at women – both fans and actors. It sometimes feels like as a woman, I’m somehow not supposed to like sci fi or have opinions and the female actors only role is to be sexy eye candy. Uhm…how about no? But you see it over and over again and it’s no wonder we had to make our own Feminist Trek group where we actually support each other.

While we’re talking about fandom and Star Trek, I also feel like I need to talk about fanfiction. I love fanfic, I write fanfic, I read fanfic. For those of you who don’t know what fan fiction is – Fan fic is Fiction written by a fan of a TV series, book, film, etc. that uses the characters/setting for their own storyline. And yes, there’s slash (which is pairing same sex characters together who are usually hetero in canon). I don’t write slash, for reasons I’m not going to get into on this post, but I do write a lot of fan fic. I mean, a lot. Most people like it and encourage me, and I love that. But what I don’t like are the people who decide to tell me what I should be writing or what I should do with my characters or even demanding that I explain why I made someone do something…and…no. The whole idea of fan fic is that you do whatever the heck you want to do with the characters and setting. I have one troll in particular…they must really hate me. They leave me PAGES of negative reviews…even told me they don’t like my writing. Fine. Don’t like me, don’t read me. And yet…they still read and still leave comments. Comments that I ignore and delete. I mean, get with the program already. If you don’t like it, don’t read it. Why is this so hard to comprehend?

And the sheer length of some of these comments – It must take them hours to compose…like, really? Don’t you have something better to do? I get that you don’t like my fic, you told me over a month ago. Pretty sure the answer to not liking something is to stop looking at it. Whether we’re talking about TV shows, Films, Books, Fanfic, Blog posts, Twitter posts, FB posts, Youtube videos…etc. I don’t look at things I dislike, why do you?

tl;dr – I think Swear Trek said it best with Picard up there.

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Gifs from Swear Trek, which if you aren’t following them on Twitter, you really should!

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Happy Birthday Hexe & Merddin!

When Tim and I went away to Manchester for an overnight last October, we had no idea that the night we got home would be our last night with our cat, Prudence.

Prudence was Tim’s cat. She had wandered into his garden about 12 years prior and just made herself at home. Tim determined that she must be the cat from Prudential, so Prudence became her name. A few years after I moved, when Pru finally decided I was going to stick aound, she accepted me and she became my cat just as much as she had been Tim’s.

In 2014, she had an operation to remove a tumor from the base of her tail. It was cancerous, and the vet told us if it came back there wasn’t going to be any possible treatment other than to make her comfortable. He couldn’t tell us if we would have 2 weeks, months, or years with her. We decided that we would make the hard choice when she was ready, as we were sure she would let us know when she knew it was her time.

While we were away in Manchester, she started gnawing at her leg. I can still remember (and still have a slight stain from it) the puddle she was sat in when we got home. Her cancer had come back, and it was brutal. We spent the last night together all on the sofa bed in the living room and in the morning said goodbye to her. Instead of cremation, we opted to bury her in the garden.

I was distraught. Being home 90% of the time, she and I were companions. She would usually be in the room with me and we would have our little rituals together. I couldn’t even get to sleep the first few days because there was no fuzzy lump purring on me. I slept cuddling a Bagpuss toy and with a white noise app on my tablet set to a cat purr.

It was during this time we started to plan our trip for our anniversary. We were going to go to Yorkshire to see a lecture by Tim Peake. Unfortunately, Tim had to cancel. But we still had a hotel booked for 2 days in Bradford, so that was when my friend stepped in and invited us to come over and visit her and her 6 cats and to pay a visit to the Yorkshire Cat Rescue. We were going just to visit the cats……Tim, Nicola, and I all had the idea in the back of our head that we would get another cat that weekend, but none of us said this thought out loud to each other.

Once we were at YCR, we started off in the adult cat room. There were nice cats, but none that really spoke to us…..until we got to the kitten room.
In the kitten room, we watched a trio of kittens. A rambunctious boy and 2 girls snuggling together on a bed. One of the girls got plucked out to go to her fur-ever home, leaving the other girl trembling and upset. Since we were allowed to open the pens to play with the cats, I opened up the pen and picked the little girl up. She curled up against my chest and started purring! Not wanting to be outdone, her brother poked his head out and climbed straight onto Tim’s back! We had found our kittens.

Since the kittens were in Keighley and we were in Lincolnshire, we made arrangements for my friend Nicola to pick them up for us and foster them for a day or two, when I would come up on the train to retrieve them.
Tim and I were riding on the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway that afternoon trying to name them. With our girl being a tortoiseshell , we decided she needed a suitably witchy name. With her brother being ginger, I first naturally considered names out of the Harry Potter Universe…..but somehow Hermione didn’t sound like a good fit for her, and Minerva would only suit a grey tabby….so then we started thinking about our favourite places, and we finally settled on Hexe (German for witch). But what would we name the boy? He needed a suitable name to go along with a witch, and we joked about naming him Aslan…..but then Tim was worried I would come home with a third cat, a white kitten we would name Pax (points if you get the references!!). Somwhere along the line we started thinking about engines – and so Merddin got his name after both the Welsh legend (Merlin) and the double fairlie at one of our favourite Welsh narrow gauge railways. Officially, Hexe is Countess Hexe von Fluffington, and Merddin is Merddin Emrys. (though really, I think he should be Sir Merddin Emrys!). Well, I say officially, but you know….they’re cats.

And here we are…..our kittens are turning one today!! I can’t imagine my life without them in it…..but we do still miss our Proodle Doodle (among her other silly nicknames!)

It’s been a learning curve for us, too. Tim hadn’t had a kitten in many years, and I never had had TWO kittens at once! Merddin finally grew into his ears and feet (and boy has he grown!) and Hexe continues to be our little dainty girl who loves her snuggles, but on her own terms!

Happy Birthday Kittens!!!

(I’ve made both a short and an extended edition of their first year. Watch them both below!)

PS: Did I mention our cats came from Yorkshire Cat Rescue? They are an AMAZING home grown charity and they place cats all over the country! So if you’re looking to adopt, consider YCR…plus you cn ride the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway the same day!
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Troll in the Dungeon

troll LOL, well, look at that. My first troll. I’m so pleased. Since the poster deleted their comment after they posted it (so it showed up in my email but not on the video), I didn’t get the chance to reply so I thought I would do so here:

Thank you. I really do value the feedback of my viewers, so let me take the chance to give you some feedback of your own: On the bottom of the video there’s a little slider you can slide back and forth to adjust the volume of the videos that you are watching which will help with the “loudness” you are experiencing. As for my voice being “annoying”, you’ll find at the top of your screen in the right side corner a button that has an X on it. If you click on that X, it will close out of what you are looking at and eliminate you having to listen to my “annoying voice”. Problem solved. You’re welcome.


Regular posts hopefully will resume soon. I’ve not felt like editing much video lately, but I do want to get through the Austria videos and I now have some packing videos I made 5 months ago that should go up too!

The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, Networked Blogs, the RSS feed(s), or through an e-mail subscription, please notify me.

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Pocket Filofax Finsbury as a Purse/Wallet

I made this video for my friends on the facebook groups after I asked lots of questions about turning the pocket sized Filofax into a purse/wallet.

As you can see, it’s VERY full and with the one ring splitting a bit, I’m really not sure if this is useful or if I will keep using it, but I’m willing to give it a go.

Where to buy*:
Filofax Pocket Finsbury in Raspberry
Pocket Filofax Zipper Envelopes
Pocket Filofax Credit Card Holders
Pocket Filofax Clear Pouch

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*All links lead to Amazon UK and are affiliate links, so if you click on them and buy something, I do get a tiny percent.

This post has not been endorsed by Filofax OR Amazon and I have not received compensation for writing this post or making this video.

The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, Networked Blogs, the RSS feed(s), or through an e-mail subscription, please notify me.

[LJ readers reading this on the LJ RSS feed: Please click on the link at the top of the entry to go directly to my blog to leave a comment, as comments left on the LJ RSS do not get seen by me. Facebook users reading this from my Networked Blogs link can either comment on facebook or on my blog. If you are reading this through an e-mail subscription, you might need to go directly to my blog to view videos and images.]

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I Passed My Driver Theory Test!

driver I applied for my Learner’s Permit back in October 2014 because I wanted a photo ID before my trip to the US the following January (Jan 2015) that wasn’t my passport. I might be 36, but I surprisingly get carded in the US. And, of course, I planned on learning how to drive.

In the UK, learning how to drive and getting your license is a three-part process. Well, more than three when you add in everything you need to do.

Step 1: Apply for your provisional. This is really easy and you just go to the Post Office for a form, and send off the application with the fee, a photo of yourself, and your ID (passport if you are foreign). You can send them a self-addressed postage paid envelope to return your documents (I used one with tracking). It only takes about two weeks.

Step 2: Get car insurance. If you have someone else in your house who own a car, ask them to add you as a named driver. All Tim had to do was ring up his insurance (Directline) and it was around an additional £100 to add me for the year and the only difference is I have a higher deductible than Tim. If you have US driving experience and it hasn’t been forever since you had a valid license in the US, some UK insurance companies will accept your no claims bonus, but I haven’t had insurance in the US since 2008 so I didn’t bother. It probably also helped that I’m older than 25.

Step 3: Book lessons. As an experienced driver, I contacted a few local driving schools to ask them what options they had since I know the basics of driving and needed to learn 1) manual transmission and 2) how to drive on UK roads/how to pass the test. I found a school that was willing to offer me the same introductory rates as a new driver, but start me right away behind the wheel (instead of explaining “this is the brake/this is the gas/etc”).

Step 4: Book your Theory test. Apparently, the DVLA has been seriously backed up and in some places it’s taking up to three months just to schedule the theory test. When I went online to schedule mine, I had to schedule it for five weeks away from the date I was booking it because it was the first date available. I would have liked to have taken it sooner, but it gave me plenty of time to study.

Step 5: The actual test for getting your license in the UK has two parts – a written part (Theory) and a behind the wheel part (Practical). Both parts have several sections to them. You MUST pass the theory test before you can even schedule the practical, so step 5 is STUDY. Even if you think you know…study. Tim bought me the study books in a three pack for Christmas, but they are available at WH Smith and online from TSO for about £20 for the three books. I also paid for the official apps for my Android tablet (the guide, the theory test, and the hazard perception test), which I think cost around a tenner for all three, and in addition to all of that, we also bought the Hazard Perception DVD (I had to use Tim’s desktop since my laptop doesn’t have a DVD drive!) Overkill? Actually…..no. I read (most of) the book (I also had a free download on my Kindle I read), and then started in on the practice tests on my tablet. A lot. I failed some, I passed some. It was FRUSTRATING! I even practised the tests while I was soaking in the bathtub! And the night before my test, I took 10 tests (failed one, but all the other ones were passed with plenty of room to spare)

The Hazard Perception test is a separate section to the Theory, and a separate score. You need to pass BOTH sections in order to have passed the theory test, and if you fail one, you retake both. The Hazard Perception is a series of scenarios and you have to click when you see a developing hazard. Sort of similar to that simulation from Driver’s Ed in the 90s with the brake pedal and the ball rolling into the street. In the Hazard Perception test, you can score up to 5 points on each scenario, but one is worth 10 (it’s a double hazard). The later you click, the less points you get…but if you click in a pattern or the computer thinks you are clicking on everything, you don’t get *any* points! There is an app for this, but since you will be taking the test at a computer with a mouse, I felt it would be better to practice on a computer. The DVD cost £15 at WH Smith, so all in all we spent around £45 just on study aids. But this test is tough, and it only has a 50% pass rate for most testing centres! And since you have to pay £23 for the test each time you need to take it…well, you want to study as much as you can and use as many resources as you can. They even have the practice tests online for free, so if you didn’t want to pay for as many applications or books, you could take the tests online (but they don’t have the Hazard Perception test online).

Step 6: Take (and pass) the Theory test. You get given a set of instructions to follow the day of your test, and these include not bringing anyone with you to the test (Sorry Tim!), turning your phone off, and locking your phone, watch, tablet, handbag, jacket, and basically anything else you have with you in a provided locker. The only thing you are permitted to take into the testing room is your provisional license and the key to the locker.

The test starts out with a short 15-minute maximum practice session just to get you used to the way the test is conducted. Then, the computer gives you a timed 1-minute break (But you can skip ahead) before starting the theory test. The test is 50 questions long, and you have 57 minutes. You can flag questions you are unsure of and then at the end you can either review your entire test or just review your flagged questions. At the end, the test will also tell you if you failed to answer a question, so make sure you check! You need to get at least 43 questions correct, so I flagged the questions I wasn’t 100% on and at the end I had only flagged 5. If I had all 5 of those wrong, I still would have passed the test. But I went back and in the end I only had 2 questions I was unsure on. After you click the final submit button, it gives you a three-minute break (you can skip this or take less than three, but after three minutes it will move on to the Hazard test).

Just like the Theory test, the Hazard perception test will give you an example/practice test, then a one-minute break before starting the test. The Hazard part is 14 clips and each clip is probably around a minute long. You just click when you see the hazard developing.

When you’re done, you get up and leave the room and your print out with your score will be waiting for you with the receptionist.

2016-03-09 15.06.27

And check out my score! *one* question wrong on the Theory, and 65/75 on the Hazard perception! They break down the score for you, so I know I scored 9 points on the double hazard, and then mostly 5s and 4s, with only 2 points on two of the hazards.

Passed my theory test with flying colours!!!!! #drivingtheorytest #drivingontheoppositeside #dvla

A photo posted by Rebecca L (@beccajanestclair) on

Step 7 is of course, scheduling, taking, and passing the Practical. Watch this space!

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The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, Networked Blogs, the RSS feed(s), or through an e-mail subscription, please notify me.

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BLATANT SELF PROMOTION!

I’m hosting a Scentsy ONE DAY ONLY sale! Save up to 75%!! Use my link and I can earn free stuff too! https://wicklesskaren.scentsy.co.uk/?partyId=265221728

10564823_10153361099553272_1294581839_n

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[NaBloPoMo] It’s the Little Things That Brought Me Here

This post is inspired by It All Comes Together in the End AKA How I Met Your Father. The post was a list of the series of events that happened in her life that led towards her meeting her husband. Her events started when she was in college, but looking back, I think the events that led me to meeting Tim actually started all the way back in high school…..

When I was 14, I had a crush on a boy named Harlan. Yes, I can admit it now, and let’s be honest – who didn’t know I had a crush on him back then? He probably knew, too (or at least now he does. Hi Harlan! LOL) The internet was slowly becoming popular, but before there was the internet, there were BBSes. And Harlan just happened to run one. I managed to convince my mom that we needed a modem and somehow roped Harlan into coming over one day to install it and show me how to use it. So, thanks Harlan, for installing my modem!

Through BBSing I met a lot of people I probably wouldn’t have met otherwise. A lot of these people are some of my closest friends, but that’s a story for another time. The important thing to remember is that I met people and started talking with a kid I used to know when I was younger, named Dave. Years later, Dave decided to go by his first name, Malcolm, and he and I dated for about a year. Through Malcolm, I reconnected with some of the old BBSing crowd I hadn’t seen in ages. Thanks, Malcolm.

Flash forward another few years. I was hanging out with one of my old BBSing friends, Mike, when he started to tell me about a new IRC network he and some friends had started. He asked me if I would be interested in checking it out, and suggested I join #schlock_mercenary, a channel for fans of the web comic of the same name. Through this channel, I made friends with even more people. Thanks, Mike.

One of the people I met was a guy named Brent. Brent and I would privately chat about everything and anything and one day he suggested I check out this other channel, #crfh, because he thought I would fit in with the crowd of people there. #crfh was a channel for fans of the webcomic, College Roommies From Hell!!!. As it turned out, he was right. I fit in quite well there. Thanks, Wulfy.

If you’re a girl in a male-dominated geeky world, you tend to wind up dating quite a few of the guys you’ve met. I’ll be honest. I probably “dated” about a half a dozen boys I met through #crfh. Some of them I actually met in person, some of them were online relationships only as they never reached the meeting each other point. At one point, I wound up talking to a kid named Charlie who happened to live not-so-far away from me and he asked me out. We started dating, and at the same time the channel was planning a big meet (BoardieCon) in Seattle. Because I was dating Charlie and wanted to meet some of the people I knew through these channels, I decided to go. While there, I met one of the men I had been talking to for around a year. His name was Tim, and he was British. We hit it off immediately when we chatted online because of my love for the UK and my hope to someday live there. We spent a little bit of time together at BoardieCon, but I was also there with my boyfriend (the above mentioned Charlie), so it’s not like we could have gone off together if we wanted. I do remember getting mad at him and another man from our group for ditching us all to go ride trains for a day while I was stuck making swords out of foam with my boyfriend, though.

Charlie and I broke up, and through a series of miscommunications (to put it nicely), a lot of the people from the chat channel started disliking me and saying nasty things about me. But not Tim. He remained a steadfast friend. I started seeing another guy from the channel, Alex. Alex lived in Michigan, so it was a long drive to see him, but we got along well and for around two years, Alex and I had some sort of pseudo-relationship. When Alex moved out to Seattle for a job, we “broke up” for lack of a better way to describe it. The break up happened right before I was going down to Florida to visit my cousin, Missy, and to go on Ships and Dip III. This Tim fellow told me that he would be there for me and anytime I needed to talk I only had to call (long distance across an ocean, but still!). My cousin told me she thought he was sweet for offering. Thanks Alex.

After I got back from the cruise, Tim and I got closer and closer. His village finally had high speed internet and we started talking more and more over Skype…having real conversations not just typing to one another. Over the course of six months or so, I fell in love.

To be honest, everything that happened after that moment seems to have passed in a blur. I came out to visit for 6 months, thanks to my friend Linz for being able to organize my flight after my first flight got cancelled. I went home. Tim visited me. My mom and I visited him. We got engaged and got married on Bonfire Night. We filled out visa paperwork and I moved to the UK 10 weeks after we got married. Today we celebrate our 4th wedding anniversary, but we constantly say that it feels like we’ve been together longer than that because we just fit.

So looking back, I have to thank a little girl (me) for having a crush on a boy she met through drama club. Isn’t it funny when you look back on things?

(There are also probably several other previous relationships to thank for where I am now, but if I start listing everyone we could be here for a while…..Greg, Dave H, Dave S, Dave G, Dave McN, Dave who’s last name I forgot, Tom, He-Who-Will-Not-Be-Named, That kid who was in jail, That one I don’t want to admit to having been with, that other one who’s name I’ve actually forgotten, the first boy I dated when I was 14…was that Stephen?….John, Jason, James, at least one guy named Mike…Uhm, did I mention this would get to be a long list?)

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The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, Networked Blogs, the RSS feed(s), or through an e-mail subscription, please notify me.

[LJ readers reading this on the LJ RSS feed: Please click on the link at the top of the entry to go directly to my blog to leave a comment, as comments left on the LJ RSS do not get seen by me. Facebook users reading this from my Networked Blogs link can either comment on facebook or on my blog. If you are reading this through an e-mail subscription, you might need to go directly to my blog to view videos and images.]

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Adventures with A&E

I know I haven’t updated in a while, and I’m hoping NaBloPoMo in November will jump start me, but in the meantime I thought I would write a post to expand on what I’ve been posting on Facebook.

Last night around 2 in the morning I had to go to A&E for my knee, but let me backtrack and tell you what happened….

My knee had been hurting for the past few days. I was chalking it up to the change in the weather (quite literally we went from the upper teens/lower 20s to single digits overnight) or maybe I was developing arthritis (I joked on FB that I was too young for arthritis), but while we were in the US we went to a train museum and when I was getting down off one of the engines it had a particularly high step and I remember telling Tim after I climbed down that my knee hurt and I wasn’t going to climb on any more trains. It might have hurt the following day and on-and-off for the rest of the trip, but it was never anything really horrible that a hot shower or regular pain relievers didn’t take care of.

Yesterday, the pain seemed to increase throughout the day and I actually wound up in bed with the bedwarmer as a heating pad earlier in the evening. I had plans that included getting up and showering before Tim got home from his overnight shift (because our boiler is in a closet in the same room as the bed is currently if I use the hot water while Tim is sleeping the noise of the boiler wakes him), then going back to sleep for an hour or two before being picked up for my chorus’ open workshop that took place today. That didn’t happen. Instead, when I went up the stairs to go to bed, my left knee completely gave way from underneath me after I turned the corner (we have a tight spiral staircase that turns back on itself on a landing 3/4 of the way up). I managed to pull myself up on the banister, and limped down the hallway and managed to get onto the bed, where I texted Tim and told him what happened.

Tim wrote back and asked me if I was in pain and I told him that the pain was making me cry, so he suggested ringing 111* to ask them for advice. The first guy I got was a call centre person with no medical training and he asked me all sorts of weird questions that had no relevance and in the end told me that since I wasn’t bleeding or feverish that I should wait and go see my GP on Monday. I asked him what I should do about the pain because it was making me cry and he transferred me to a nurse. The nurse advised going to A&E as soon as I was able because she suspected a torn ligament and said I would need an X-ray and strapping up. I rang Tim back and told him what was suggested and he said he would get home to take me as soon as he was able to get someone to take over where he was.

I think we got to A&E around 2AM. Surprisingly, the waiting area was pretty empty and I was told there were three people ahead of me after I went through triage and it wouldn’t be a long wait. But then we started hearing screaming coming from behind the door and a nurse came out and asked the receptionist if the police were at the hospital and then three carloads of police showed up! Yikes. Still don’t know what that was about, but when I was finally called back two police officers were stationed right near the entrance to the examining area.

The doctor I saw was an intern and he admitted to me that he had no experience with orthopedics. He bent my knee this way and that way and sideways and based on the crunch and crackle (seriously, my knee sounded like walking on gravel does) he determined that it probably wasn’t a ligament, but was a meniscus tear (cartilage) and that an x-ray wouldn’t help since cartilage doesn’t show up on an x-ray. So he told me to make an appointment with my GP on Monday because I would need physio and to stay off it for about a week….but he didn’t give me a brace or anything to keep it immobile. He also gave me a prescription for Diclofenac but told me the hospital pharmacy was closed for the night and I would have to take it to an after hours.

We left and headed for the Boots at the Carleton center only to find it completely dark and no afterhours window open. Puzzled, I fired up google to find out that at that particular time (nearly 5AM) there was not a single pharmacy open in Lincoln. Nice. So we headed home and I took some Naproxen I brought back from the US.

I tried to get comfortable in bed and immediately put myself in pain when I tried to get into my usual sleeping position (knees slightly bent). I still had my knee brace from 1998 when I had surgery on my right knee, so I had Tim get it out for me and I stuck in on my left knee. I was asleep, finally, by 7AM. I woke up around 10 to go to the loo and with the knee brace the steps were a piece of cake. When I woke up again around 3PM I took off the brace (since the hospital told me I did’t need one) and I was in a ton of pain going down the steps. I think I will be asking my GP for a brace on Monday. While the one I had worked, it wasn’t designed for the left side so all the fastenings are on the wrong side.

So I’m pretty immobile for the weekend until I can get in with my GP on Monday. I’m going to go back upstairs now and get into bed. I have my laptop and my kindle, both with BBC iPlayer and LoveFilm to keep me company.

Oh, and PS to my American friends – My trip to A&E didn’t cost me a cent. I’ll only have to pay for my prescription, but I pre-pay for those (unlimited prescriptions for about £12/mo) so I won’t even have to hand over any cash when I pick it up, either.


*111 is a service in the UK that replaced NHS Direct. Basically, you can ring 111 when your GP office is closed for advice and they will help you determine if you need to go to A&E, an after hours GP, or wait until the morning when your GP office is open. For more information: http://www.nhs.uk/NHSEngland/AboutNHSservices/Emergencyandurgentcareservices/Pages/NHS-111.aspx

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The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, Networked Blogs, the RSS feed(s), or through an e-mail subscription, please notify me.

[LJ readers reading this on the LJ RSS feed: Please click on the link at the top of the entry to go directly to my blog to leave a comment, as comments left on the LJ RSS do not get seen by me. Facebook users reading this from my Networked Blogs link can either comment on facebook or on my blog. If you are reading this through an e-mail subscription, you might need to go directly to my blog to view videos and images.]

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How My Kindle Changed My Reading Habits

2012 Reading Challenge

2012 Reading Challenge
Rebecca has
completed her goal of reading 144 books in 2012!
hide

I’ve always been a big reader, ever since I was a child. In fact, I tried to convince my parents I knew how to read when I was three or four by reciting my favourite bedtime story. And I might have convinced my mom I could read if I hadn’t forgotten to turn the page! Before I could read on my own and my parents would tell me to pick a bedtime story, I would hand them a stack. Once I learned to read, I hit the ground running. I was a fast reader, and I was reading well above my grade level. I can still remember a March of Dimes campaign when I was 8 or 9 and one of the adults at my church offered to sponsor me. Most people had sponsored me for 10 cents/book and he thought that wasn’t high enough so he pledged $1/book…..by the end of the month, he owed me $100! When we went to Florida for a family vacation (by car!) when I was turning 10, I was set up in the backseat with one of our American Tourister duffel bags filled to the brim with books. I finished all of them before we got to Florida (and from New Jersey, it was a long trip!). I used to get in trouble with my English teachers (anyone remember when it was called Language Arts?) for doing reports on grade-level appropriate books because they knew I could read at a higher level….but it was hard for my parents and teachers to find me age appropriate books. Once I finished Little Women, Little House on the Prairie, Anne of Green Gables, and the Jane Austen collection I moved on to reading Gone with the Wind when I was 11, and I started the Flowers in the Attic series when I was 12. I had read the complete Longfellow, Blake, and Tennyson by the time I was 15. I was and always will be a readaholic.

A trip to the bookstore always made my mom shudder. Stacks and Stacks of books – the latest Babysitters Club book, Sweet Valley Twins or High, Friends 4-ever, Sleepover Club….I read them all in lightning speed.

As I got older, my reading tapered off largely because I couldn’t afford to keep myself in new books. I re-read my favourites over and over and relied on finding books at the library or from friends.

…and then I met Tim, and he introduced me to the town of Hay-on-Wye, a small Welsh village FULL of used bookstores. I was in HEAVEN.

The biggest problem with books though is that you have to have a place to store them. Anyone who has been to our house knows that we are getting short on space. The other problem is that some larger books get really heavy as I hold them, like any of the Harry Potter books after book 3!

Enter the Kindle.

Tim and I decided for our second anniversary last year that we would buy Kindles and we purchased Kindle Keyboards with 3G. The 3G meant that we would be able to access Amazon from anywhere to download new books.

I decided to set myself a goal to read 12 books a month in 2012. As you can see from the graph above, I read nearly 100 more than that. Because my Kindle goes everywhere with me as it’s lighter than a paperback. Waiting at the bus stop, riding the bus, waiting for food to arrive at a cafe, while drinking a cup of coffee….I was reading. And the nice thing is Amazon has loads of Kindle books for less than £1 or free!

And with the free books, I have enjoyed books I wouldn’t have read otherwise, and everyone has a built-in birthday and christmas present for me with getting me Amazon gift cards!

This year, I received the Kindle Fire for Christmas. The downside is the Fire doesn’t have 3G service, but it is basically a mini tablet. I’m in love with it. I’ll still keep my Kindle Keyboard though, particularly to take camping with us — and that’s another thing. The year before we had the Kindles, I read 7 books while we were camping and we had to go out and buy more books. This past year with my Kindle, I read over 20!

Having the Kindle has changed my reading habits back to the way they were when I was younger, and I love it!

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The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, Networked Blogs, the RSS feed(s), or through an e-mail subscription, please notify me.

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Back?

I logged into wordpress this morning and noticed the top line there and smiled. Back when I started this blog I installed a little widget called “Hello, Dolly” which did nothing other than display a random line from the song “Hello, Dolly” across the top. I loved it because the first musical I had ever been in was in fact, “Hello, Dolly!” and when I first landed on the internet in 1993, I picked Minnie Fay (one of the secondary lead characters) as my handle, and I kept Minnie Fay until I was 23. I think I even still have access to my old email account.

Seeing that made me smile and think, yeah. This is what I should be doing. I should be writing daily. Blogging as often as I can. I was going to do NaNoWriMo or NaBloPoMo, but I fractured my wrist towards the end of October which put a halt to writing.

I’ve not posted since September….and it’s not because I haven’t done things. On the contrary, I’ve been quite busy! I just never bothered to blog for some reason and I am going to try to rectify that. Maybe I needed that time away. I’ve also not been updating LiveJournal or keeping up with email.

Even though the paralympics were in September, I will be blogging about it. And our trip to Welshpool, and other assorted things I’ve no blogged about yet. I’ll have to make a list!

I’m back where I belong now.

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The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, Networked Blogs, the RSS feed(s), or through an e-mail subscription, please notify me.

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Aplogy Owed!

I possibly owe an apology to the author of What the F, UK?. A link to her blog was shared on one of the Ex-pat groups on FB and while there were loads of comments on facebook, I think I was the only one who went to her blog and left her a comment.

I wasn’t myself yesterday. As my friend Brigette said about me, I’m usually not that mean…and I didn’t intend to BE mean. I certainly didn’t expect her to go and mark her blog as private or for a comment to pop up on another ex-pat group (by someone unrelated?) claiming that we were “poor desperate housewives” living in abject poverty!

I can’t access the original post any more because she changed her blog to private, but for whatever reason, it rubbed me the wrong way. I think it was the general tone of her post, the attitude I saw in her post, or her use of sarcastic quotation marks. And I left a comment.

It may have been slightly snarky. I went through her long list of “things that are wrong with the UK” that she had written out in a numbered list and I made my own numbered list in response. Most of her complaints I was able to point out that the “missing” thing was present in the UK…though I suppose I shouldn’t have told her that if she didn’t like living in the UK she should go back to the US. ooops.

So I do apologize. I think that had I not been in a bad mood, I could have written a much nicer reply and addressed her problems with the UK in a better way and maybe even extended the arm of friendship.

Will she ever see this? If she’s anything like me, she would have “stalked” me online and found her way to my blog, so I hope she has seen this and I hope she knows that I didn’t mean to be so snarky and that if she needs another American to talk to, she would be welcomed into any of our ex-pat groups on facebook.

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The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, Networked Blogs, the RSS feed(s), or through an e-mail subscription, please notify me.

[LJ readers reading this on the LJ RSS feed: Please click on the link at the top of the entry to go directly to my blog to leave a comment, as comments left on the LJ RSS do not get seen by me. Facebook users reading this from my Networked Blogs link can either comment on facebook or on my blog. If you are reading this through an e-mail subscription, you might need to go directly to my blog to view videos and images.]

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Homeward Bound

My aunt passed away during the night. This morning, Tim and I had a short discussion about if I should go to Pennsylvania or not, and my response was “it’s Aunt Barb”, and Tim said “there’s your answer”, so flights have been booked.

I’m going solo because Tim just can’t ask for the time off this week as one of the other MOMs is currently on holiday and well, one ticket was enough!

I’m heading out on Friday and will arrive in Philly around 3PM and take the train to Lancaster so my mom doesn’t have to worry about picking me up at the airport. I’ll leave on Christmas Eve. Because it’s an overnight flight, I will arrive back in the UK on Christmas Morning. It was the only way to book things and still be able to afford anything reasonable that didn’t involve a lot of crazy transfers and layovers (seriously, one flight I looked at was Birmingham to Dublin, an 11-hour layover in Dublin, then flying to Miami, five hours in Miami, and then onto BWI). To make things easier on me, I’m not checking any bags. I’ve got toiletry type items still at Mom’s and if I need anything, she has a CVS and a Rite Aid around the corner from her house (within walking distance, even). I’m just going to toss a few changes of clothing into a carry-on. Mom has a washing machine, so I can always wash things.

This isn’t the way I had hoped to return to the US for a visit, but I am glad that I am able to. This truly IS the hardest part about being an ex-pat.

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The Worst Part About Being an Ex-Pat

The worst part about being an ex-pat is when tragedy strikes at home.

One of my aunts had a stroke on Sunday, and without revealing private details, I can say that it doesn’t look good.

You always know something could happen, but you never really expect it when it does, do you?

Two weeks before Christmas, if I wanted to get back to PA I don’t even think it would be possible.

🙁

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The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, the RSS feed(s), or through an e-mail subscription, please notify me.

[LJ readers reading this on the LJ RSS feed: Please click on the link at the top of the entry to go directly to my blog to leave a comment, as comments left on the LJ RSS do not get seen by me. Facebook users reading this from my Networked Blogs link can either comment on facebook or on my blog. If you are reading this via the email subscription, please click on the link to go directly to the entry on my site to comment as the email address used to send the posts does not accept replies.]

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LJ Idol Week 5 Re-post – Chasing the Dream

I’m still hanging on with LJ Idol. I took a “bye” week for week 4, so here is my week 5 submission. I’m actually pretty happy that I wound up staying in the competition because it looked like I was in the bottom of my “tribe”, but somehow I wound up 5th from the bottom. Last week’s LJ Idol topic was “Inconceivable”. Here’s what I came up with to post. This also could be titled my journey to the UK. While I class this as “non-fiction”, some of it isn’t quite true to the memories…but for the most part it is.

I flitted in and out of the long line of students waiting to get into Westminster Abbey, taking photos with my new 35mm camera loaded with black and white film. I felt black and white was going to make better photographs of the old buildings, and the man at the camera shop showed me how I could easily swap between colour and black and white film without ruining my photos. My best friend, Erin, was standing in line next to our friend Rob and both of them were laughing at me as I attempted to capture everything I could see with my camera. We were only in London for two days as part of our high school’s music department trip to Europe and I was a huge Anglophile*, so I was soaking it all in.

We finally entered the cathedral** and I was speechless. I joined arms with Rob and Erin and tugged them around armed with the paper guide to the Abbey. We lit a candle for my father, saw where King Henry VIII was buried, looked at King Edward’s Chair, and spotted the Battle of Britain memorial window. The beauty of the glass took my breath away. Standing in Poet’s Corner, looking at the memorials for Chaucer, Shakespeare, Lords Byron and Tennyson, The Brontë sisters, and Jane Austen sent shivers up my spine. I squeezed Erin’s hand and told her that someday I was going to live in England.

I was waiting to see my new academic advisor at Penn State midway through my first year of studies when I spotted the brochure for the study abroad program at Leeds. Dreams of attending the program filled my head as I spoke with my advisor. Unfortunately, attending the Leeds program would do nothing towards my major, but if I was willing to spend an extra semester at university there was no reason I couldn’t apply for the program when I reached my junior year. I swapped my major into International Business, thinking that might give me a leg up on getting to live in the UK. I didn’t tell anyone, not even my boyfriend, about my plans for living in England as it was my secret alone. Unfortunately, my GPA was not high enough to apply for the study abroad program. I was crushed, but still determined to figure out a way to England.

I met my friend John in 1999 while attending a service project for Circle K. He and I hit it off and we became close friends despite attending schools 8 hours apart. John was planning on going to Japan for a semester abroad the following year, and I told him about my dreams of living in England. I was afraid he would think I was silly, but instead, he encouraged me not to forget my dream.

I forgot about my dream. I worked at a local pre-school and after I was laid off, I took a job working as a bank teller. My England dream came back, and I started talking to John about it again. John suggested creating a special bank account for my England fund and to set myself a goal of when I intended to move. It was 2002, so I told John I would give myself 10 years. I made plans to work my way up in the banking world. I thought if I got high enough at my local bank, I could then apply to work for an international bank in New York and then eventually transfer to a branch in England or even find a job with an English bank. I started pushing a small amount of money into my England fund with each paycheque. Only $50 plus loose change, but I did the math and if I continued to save $50/month for 10 years, I would have plenty of money to fund a move. I started telling the people I worked with about my England dream. Most of them scoffed and told me it wasn’t going to happen, it was impossible and inconceivable, and I should just give up. Even boys I dated laughed at me. I was still determined.

Unfortunately, I was laid off two years into my banker’s job and I spent the next few years holding down part-time jobs. I moved back in with my mom, and I needed to empty my England fund to help pay bills. I was lower than low. I started making jewellery and selling it online through a website and on Etsy and at local craft fairs. 15% of what I made was being put straight back into my UK fund. The money was trickling in in small amounts, but I wasn’t giving up. I made high quality Swarovski bracelets and necklaces, so from each sale I was getting between $1-$5 going into my UK fund. My 10-year clock was ticking and I started researching other ways of moving, thinking perhaps attending graduate school in the UK might be an option, or even becoming an Au Pair. I also became desperate to visit the UK, as I hadn’t been since 1997. But I knew that once I got a glimpse of Old Blighty again, I wouldn’t want to leave.

I met Tim online in 2004 and shared my dreams with him. He was very encouraging and told me that once I had enough money together to finance a trip I could come and stay with him in his spare room for as long as I needed while I job hunted. If I landed a job near him, he was willing to let me room with him until I could afford my own place. I was floored as no one had offered me this kind of encouragement before other than my friends Erin and John. We met in person in 2005 in Seattle and I didn’t get to spend as much time with him as I would have liked, but it was enough to know that I would feel safe staying with him if I came to the UK. That Christmas, he sent me a copy of Bill Bryson’s “Notes from a Small Island” with the inscription “to tide you over until you are here”. At the time, I was dating someone who didn’t understand my dream, and who enjoyed quoting “inconceivable” from The Princess Bride at me whenever I brought it up.

Tim and I continued our friendship and I developed another idea for moving. I was going to try to get a job again at IKEA and then work my way to transferring to a UK store. I used my connections from my 1998 job at the Philadelphia store to get a job assisting with opening the Canton, MI store. Unfortunately I broke my foot that summer and wound up needing to leave my job and moved back in with my mother in PA. My England account stood at around $200, not even enough for half of a plane ticket. I was depressed. If I wanted to meet my goal, I was running out of time. I began to think that a move to the UK just wasn’t in the cards for me.

In 2008 I finally decided I was just going to come to the UK. I would sell my car and use the proceeds for a plane ticket, and stay in Tim’s spare room for as long as I could. I hoped that I might be able to do some job hunting while I was visiting. In mid-2008, Tim and I confessed our feelings for each other and began dating. We decided that I would use my upcoming trip to determine if I really wanted to live in the UK. I would stay for a few months and in addition to seeing the sights I would experience doing things that people who live there do – things like grocery shopping, cooking, laundry, etc.

I fell in love.

We extended my visit to the alloted 6 months on my visitor visa, and I returned to the US, determined to make the permanent move. The obvious solution would be marriage, but I didn’t want Tim to marry me just so I could move to the UK and I really wanted to get to the UK on my own merits. In the end, I did marry Tim, but we waited until we were both ready for it and both wanted it.

I entered the UK on my two-year spousal visa in January 2010. This December, I become eligible for permanent residency. And then, I have a date with Westminster Abbey.

Nothing is inconceivable, you just have to persevere.

*An Anglophile is someone who is fond of all things British. At the age of 17, this meant I watched Monty Python, Mr Bean, AbFab, and Are You Being Served on PBS.
**Technically speaking, Westminster is not a Cathedral, but I thought it was when I was 17.

This coming week’s topic is “food memory”…I have no idea if I even have any food memories….

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The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, or the RSS feed(s), please notify me.

[LJ readers reading this on the LJ RSS feed: Please click on the link at the top of the entry to go directly to my blog to leave a comment, as comments left on the LJ RSS do not get seen by me. Facebook users can comment directly on Facebook.]

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Happy Thanksgiving Part 2

Today, my family (on my Mom’s side) will be gathering in my aunt’s basement to celebrate Thanksgiving together as a family. My mom is the youngest of 9, so the numbers can range anywhere from 20 to over 40, depending on who is available. I loved family Thanksgiving. When I was younger, my cousins Jennifer, April, and I used to pretend to be waitresses and brought people their dessert. Once I knew how to write nicely, I was allowed to write out the placecards and put stickers on them. Thanksgiving has always meant a lot to me, and it’s always hard being away from my family on such an important date.

I sent my mom about 100 photos of the past year to share with the family, sent some flowers, picked some blog posts for Mom to print out to share, and wrote this letter.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Dear Family,

I hope you all can forgive me for not being there for Thanksgiving once again and for not being able to visit in 2011 like I had hoped. I would love to say I will be visiting in 2012, but it will all depend on the prices of airline tickets and what available time we have.

I’ve now spent my second year in the UK, and I still love living here. I could do without some of the cold weather, but I’m coping. At least it hasn’t snowed yet.

This year has seen a major change for us. Tim went on an interview for a higher position with his company (Network Rail) in December, and we found out in late January that he was being offered the position. There was a lot of back and forth with the company over Tim’s training, and in fact he did not complete his training until June and July and started his new position in August when we returned from our holiday in Wales. You will laugh when I tell you his job title – Tim is a MOM! It stands for Mobile Operations Manager which means he gets called when there is a problem anywhere in Lincolnshire. He loves it. The position is currently temporary (to make a long story short, the LOM in Newark was suspended, so a Lincoln MOM took over in Newark, leaving the Lincoln MOM job open) but if it opens up for a permanent position, Tim is going to apply for it.

Mom came to visit last December for Christmas, and we had a great time – though we were hindered by the snow and ice! Our trip up to Edinburgh got cancelled due to the snow/ice, but we still had a good time. Hopefully, mom has shown you all some of the photos we took while she was here.

In January, we went down to Brighton to visit Tim’s best mate (best friend) and to attend the Brighton Toy and Model Show, where Nick and his dad were displaying some vintage toys. It was fun to attend the show, and I got to see a little bit of Brighton with Tim’s cousin, Chris, and his partner, Phil. While Tim helped Nick out, Chris and Phil took me all over Brighton and showed me Brighton Pier and the Royal Pavilion. While at the show, we saw a model of the USS Intrepid in Legos. It was amazing. We returned from our trip to discover my arm infections were coming back.

In March I wound up in hospital for three days waiting to have surgery to cut out the infection. It all came to a head on a Sunday night when I reached out for a cup of tea and screamed in pain. Tim phoned up the NHS advice line, and they told him to take me directly to A&E (Accidents an Emergencies/the ER). A&E kept me in until 3AM when they finally sent me home to return on Monday morning to be admitted. Mom should have the blog post I wrote about my experience in hospital. It wasn’t too bad, and of course, it was free. Can’t really find fault with free! Fortunately, Tim was on his scheduled week off from work while I was in hospital. Unfortunately, it was the week we had planned on doing our vegetable plot, so we didn’t have a veggie patch this year.

In April, I attended the Royal Wedding! Well, okay, not really, but I did join the crowds outside Westminster Abbey to catch a glimpse of the royal family. I had a great time and it was nice to see the whole country come together for a celebration like that. Probably a once (or twice, if Prince Harry gets married) in a lifetime chance!

In May I was off to Birmingham to compete with my chorus. Unfortunately, we did not do as well as we had hoped, and we lost several members as a result. We also held a one-day workshop when we got back, and we gained several members. I also have been appointed Lead Section Leader alongside my friend Jan. This means we’re in charge of the ladies in our section and help to make decisions about the chorus. So far, I’m enjoying it.

I also found out in May that my close friend, M, was going to need a hysterectomy at the age of 34. She lives in Florida and does not have heath insurance because her employer did not offer it. I have been doing everything I can from here to help her raise money, including donating a few photos for her to sell on her website. She had her surgery in October, and if you’re interested in reading about her you can check her blog at http://giveneyestosee.com/blog.

Mom rang us up one night in May to tell me that my cat, Will, had passed away while at the vet. I was very upset and Prudence (Tim’s cat) must have known because ever since then she has been stuck to me like glue. She sits on my lap while we’re watching TV and curls up next to me in bed. I think she knew I needed a cat in my life.

June and July were quiet. Tim got sent on his course, which was a residential course down near London, so he was gone Monday to Friday. It was interesting spending time alone in the house! I decided to go down for one week and stay with Tim since the hotel was free and spent a week sightseeing in London and visiting some friends who live in London.

In July, a friend from high school came to visit for a few days while she was travelling in the UK and it was nice to see someone from “back home”. I also still visit with my friend Jessy, who I went to high school and Penn State with, whenever we have time to get together.

In August, we went on a two-week camping trip to Wales. We would have loved to have gone back to Austria, but we were trying to save a little money by staying in the UK. We had a great time. Our campsite was gorgeous (see photos if I remember to send them to Mom in time). We spent our time with some of our friends who also happened to be in Wales the same week as us, and we took Tim’s brother, Ben, and his girlfriend, Marie, with us for a few days. We spent most of our time riding railways because it was what I wanted to do when Tim asked me to pick things to do. It rains a lot in Wales, so I wasn’t in the mood for looking at castles in the rain. Better to look at the scenery out the window of a train!

When we returned from our holiday, Tim started his new position, and he’s barely been at home since. There is a lot of overtime on offer with this job in the fall, so Tim has been taking it when it’s been offered.

In September, the winds came. It blew down half of our lilac tree and also started blowing all the apples off our tree, before I was ready for them. I spent several weeks canning apple butter and apple sauce, and I think I now have enough to last a year!

Tim had a week booked off in November, and we went up to Edinburgh for a few days so I could finally see it. This was our third attempt at going, and third time is obviously the charm!

The day we got back I had to sit my Life in the UK test. It’s one of the requirements for my permanent residency and eventual citizenship. The test wasn’t hard, but I worked myself up over it.

We also went down to visit Nick again, and on the way home, our car broke down. We had to wait 5 hours for the RAC (like the AAA) to tow us back home, and I’ve been battling a cold ever since. I don’t have much of a voice to speak with, so I don’t think I’ll be calling today.

In December, we will be applying for my ILR (permanent residency). This will cost £1400 (nearly $2k), but it means I will be able to live in the UK permanently. In 2013 I will be eligible for citizenship, too, at which point I will then hold dual citizenship with the US.

After we get my ILR, I plan on applying for my provisional license. Since they need me to send my passport, I have been unwilling to send it until I had my residency. I don’t really need to drive, but it sure would be nice. Especially now that Tim is driving a work vehicle and the car is here all day. I’d be able to get to places not serviced by the bus!

I hope everyone is doing well!

I sent Mom some photos to share, and she has printed out a few of my blog entries for anyone who wants to read them. If you have internet access, you can read my blog at http://blog.beccajanestclair.com. I try to update it as much as possible. I’m also on facebook – http://ww.facebook.com/beccajanestclair for those of you who don’t have me added. You also can email me – rebeccajlockley@googlemail.com. You can IM, video call, or call me on Skype. My account there can be found under annaonthemoon. For those of you who don’t have internet access, our address is:

[removed for blog post. If you need my address, ask!]

I still have my US-based phone number, too. If you want to call me, you can call [removed]. The number is based in Michigan, so all you pay is long distance to Michigan, instead of the UK. Alternately, you can call my google voice number to leave me a message at [removed]. This is a Lancaster number, but it only goes to a voicemail account and I would have to call you back (which I can do for free). My UK number is [removed]. You would drop off the initial 0 when dialling from the US.

I look forward to hearing from you! Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!!

If any of you ever decide to visit the UK, please let me know, I’d love to see you!

With Love,

Rebecca & Tim

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The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, or the RSS feed(s), please notify me.

[LJ readers reading this on the LJ RSS feed: Please click on the link at the top of the entry to go directly to my blog to leave a comment, as comments left on the LJ RSS do not get seen by me. Facebook users can comment directly on Facebook.]

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