6 Months in the Highlands – Thanks, COVID-19!

In one of my previous posts (here’s the link), I talk about moving to the Highlands. It was just a small ‘travel’ post really, with a few pictures, intended to be a precursor to future travel posts.

But it didn’t quite work out the way I planned.

And… I *might* be moving again!

Pre-Covid-19

On Feburary 24th, I had my first day at my new job – but it was in London. I travelled down to London from the southern part of Scotland where I had been temporarily living. I got to the hotel, realised it was the wrong one, so ordered a taxi to the correct one, and the next day was my induction training.

My induction training lasted two days; Monday and Tuesday, although I didn’t see much of London in that time, so no cool photos to show you guys (sorry!). By Tuesday evening, I was on a flight to Inverness.

Wednesday morning, I started my first day in the office.

I took with me, one medium/large suitcase, my laptop bag and a work laptop bag (which I collected from the induction day).

I have been living out of that suitcase for 6 months!

For the first few weeks, I had planned to get settled at work and get a feel for the area. Once I knew the best area to live, public transport routes (currently car/bike-less, don’t judge!) and how much I could possible afford, I was going to find a nice place to rent.

A few weeks in, I started looking at places, I viewed two flats, and contacted a lot more for other potentials…

Then Covid-19 hit.

Post-Covid-19

For the first few weeks before the UK was put into official lockdown, I was given the option to work from home, the last week before lockdown, I did. I found it cool and novel – I’ve always wanted a remotely working job!

Then lockdown officially started 23rd March. Shops started to shut (except for essential shops). People weren’t allowed out except for 1 hour exercise (this wasn’t set in stone, apparently, but it was ‘advised’ to limit to an hour). We had to have letters to say we were keyworkers if we got stopped by police.

I was classed as a keyworker, but was lucky that I had a company laptop so I could work from ‘home’. And, I was equally lucky that the host of the Airbnb I had booked was more than happy for me to stay with her until lockdown lifted. I pay her a small fee a month, instead of booking continuously through Airbnb – and it works out a lot cheaper.

The novelty of working from home wore off quickly. Especially since I couldn’t go anywhere! I was inside for work. I was inside on days off. Summer came, and I was inside for that too. The only time I could go out was for walks/exercise or shopping. That was the only time I could see bits of Inverness; the area I was really looking forward to exploring! When lockdown restrictions eased a little, I started to go a little further afield. Which is the next section…

University of the Highlands and Islands

This is something that is pretty close to where I have been living for the past six months. When I first moved, pre-Covid-19, I would walk through the grounds to get to the office. Post-Covid-19, I would either walk through to get to Tesco to do my shopping, or just go for a walk to get my hourly exercise.

Although it’s not exactly a destination to pack your bags to go see (unless you’re starting a course there!), it certainly is a lovely place to walk around when the sun is shining!

Culloden Woods and Battlefield

I went to Culloden Woods/Forest a few times, it was suggested to me by a colleague from work. I had no idea what to expect, I couldn’t find any information on it. But, to do something different to my usual walk around the University grounds, I went here on a day off instead.

First time I went, I was happily exploring; following the path, taking in the sights, smells and sounds, and I came across a sign that said ‘Culloden Battlefield Trail’. It didn’t tell me how far it was to the Culloden Battlefield, but I at least figured the walk might be intersting, even if I didn’t walk all the way there. But, I did end up walking all the way to the battlefield!

And, I was glad I went, as although I was only there for a little bit, it was a really interesting site. It’s the site where the Jacobite Rising came to and end in 1745. There is a visitor centre (which was closed due to the lockdown) which holds a cafe, museum and shop, there is an old cottage (Leanach Cottage), clan gravestones and memorial cairn (be careful not to walk on the grass on this bit, there are real remains there – I found that out afterwards and felt really guilty!) and then there is the battlefield itself with the different flags to represent the two sides of the battle, and there are markers dotted around with more information.

Second time I went, I visited more of the woods and forest, this time around it was really foggy and I got some really interesting shots in the fog.

Long walk to North Kessock

I add emphasis on the ‘long walk’ here, because I was out for six hours! I walked all the way from Cradlehall/Westhill, through Inverness City Centre, over the Kessock Bridge and into North Kessock and Craigton… then back again. I was sore for a few days afterwards.

Again, I got some really interesting shots. North Kessock is a lovely little place, right on the edge of Beauly Firth, I found a lovely little swing seat on the edge by some woods, there was a fog coming in which hid part of the Kessock Bridge. I saw a few sights walking through Inverness too.

Inverness Castle and the Islands

When lockdown started to ease, and the shops started to open, I decided to go back into Inverness to do some shopping. But the main part of my walk into Inverness was to see Inverness Castle! No trip to Inverness is complete without at least seeing the Castle!

Unfortunately, the Castle was closed, but not because of Covid, but because it’s undergoing some renovations, so I wasn’t able to go inside. When I get back to the UK after my contract abroad, and if I get my old job back in Inverness, I am looking forward to seeing it again, hopefully go inside this time!

As well as Inverness Castle, I also had a wander along the River Ness. A little further down is what’s called ‘The Islands’ or ‘Ness Islands’, which, as the name suggests, is a colletion of islands on the River Ness. There are a few bridges across them so you can walk along them, and they have a few trees and lights up along them (which I can only imagine look nice in the evening).

Motorbike Ride to Nairnshire

One day, I had the pleasure of catching up with an old friend from college. He was coming up for a tour of Scotland on his motorbike and decided to pop in to see me. He brought his spare motorbike helmet and we took a trip out to see Nairn, an area I had hoped to see when I first moved up, pre-Covid-19. And yes, I am aware there is still a Covid risk, but luckily he had already had Covid and had the anti-bodies. There was no risk of spreading.

We went to Fort George to begin with, it was closed, but we were still able to walk on the pebble beach and around the old Fort. We then got back on the bike and headed to Nairn Beach, where we wandered about, sat and caught up, had lunch and then headed back. We stopped at Sueno’s Stone – a 9th Century Picto-Scottish standing stone, Clava cairns and the viaduct close by.

My next adventure

I can’t talk too much about my next adventure. I have mentioned it a few times, so it’s not exactly a secret. But I don’t want to dedicate a whole blog post to it just yet, as it hasn’t been officially confirmed.

However, I will say; I was recently given the opportunity to go to anther country, with the company I work for!

At the moment there are a few issues with Covid-19; the borders being closed and, I have a few issues with my visa. But when things have been sorted, if I am still able to go, I will give you more updates!

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Don’t forget to like, reblog, share, comment and/or follow! 😊
You can check out my other photos on my Instagram, see the link below.

thegirlwhowhispered.com

facebook.com/TheGirlWhoWhispered
instagram.com/thegirlwhowhispered/
twitter.com/penny_hoops

Let’s get back on track!

Hi guys!

Dusting off the cobwebs on my blog (and website, and Twitter, and… everything, really!)

So, as I explained, I am currently completing a Master’s Degree and… wow, is it difficult! It’s been taking up so much of my time that I haven’t had chance to do anything in terms of writing, editing, marketing, etc. It’s crazy!

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But today I had my viva, and although I haven’t yet finished, hopefully I have freed up some time to get back to blogging, writing, editing, and updating everything!

It’s good to see that I’m still getting royalties, even though I have done next to no marketing what so ever. And come onto my WordPress in what feels like a few months to see I’m getting traffic through – even if it’s a little, it feels like it’s actually improved, even though I haven’t been blogging frequently.

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As I’m nearly the end of my Masters I’ve been really thinking about getting my own business up and running, selling my own work (see below for links to my two published books), doing a bit more freelance work.

I have also wanted to do a vlog or something similar… maybe branch out a little from writing, getting back into photoraphy, both landscape and architecture as well as modelling photography (I have plans of making a room into a photography room!)

And… I have plans for a new instagram account.. but this one will be a bit of fun.

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Of course, get back into writing and editing my two last books; Ender’s Love and Rose Garden Sanatorium!

Rose Garden Sanatorium(1)

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Here are the links to my books (in paperback):

It’s My Mistake

I fell in Love with a Psychopath

Here are the links to the e-book versions:

It’s My Mistake

I fell in Love with a Psychopath

Here are links to my social media:

Twitter

Instagram (going to have a revamp soon!)

I signed myself up to a Virtual Challenge!

I signed myself up for a virtual walking challenge today with Race at your Pace. It’s only a walking challenge, to get myself into the swing of things. Build up my fitness, as my fitness went hugely downhill after a health scare last year. I need something to push me to get back out again, as there isn’t much to do around here other than go to a cafe… especially in the cold… and when you haven’t got a car!

I also am slightly curious to know how this will turn out… I’ve never done a virtual challenge before, and I only heard about it on a Facebook ad. I don’t tend to pay any attention to Facebook ads, they’re usually just full of *cough*crap*cough*. But I was curious to know what this Race at your Pace was.

I did a bit of research into other companies first, as there are a few. Some appear to raise money for charity, others are specifically for running challenges that you have to do in one lump (which I cannot do just yet), others hand out pretty cool medals, from unicorns to marvel medals! In the end I decided to stick with Race at your Pace.

Race at your Pace is a virtual challenge where you sign up to a challenge, select your target and you basically go out and walk/run/cycle/swim over that month to hit your selected target. You can split that running time up over the month. For example, if you signed up to a 50 mile running challenge, you can run one day, take a break, run the next day, and as long as you run 50 miles in that month, you met your target.

You submit your evidence by either taking a photo of your fitbit, your app on your phone, or the screen on your electric bike. Once you have completed your challenge, you get your medal (and a compression top if you go for that option too!)

It’s £10 for just the one challenge, £14 if you want the compression top as well.

And if you manage to complete your challenge, you get a medal posted to you!

This is what the February medals look like:

february-running-medals

(photo taken from the Race at your Pace website)

I figured, my walk to University is a mile each way. That’s at least 2 miles in a day already. If I add that up to the month, that’s between 40-50 miles already.

Doesn’t sounds like a huge accomplishment, but I don’t go to university every day! This month along, I only have two modules, which run from the 21st until the end of the month. That’s only 20 miles.

So, if I sign myself up to a challenge, say I do a 50 mile challenge, that MAKES me walk at least 2 miles each day (not including weekends). Once I get myself into the habit of walking each day, I can up my limit. Say if I do a 50 mile challenge next month, in March I can up to it the 75 mile challenge, April up to the 100 mile, and I could even move onto the running challenges, swimming and cycling (although I’ll need to get myself a bike first!)

I’ll also get a cool collection of medals to show my achievements!

I’ll keep you guys updated on how I do. As January is nearly over, I only signed myself up to the 25 mile walking challenge this month, and I’ve only managed to record about 8 miles on my fitbit so far (its new, haven’t that long ago got it).

But I hope this challenge will encourage me to walk more!

Update! This might be my last post for a while…

So, tomorrow I drive to the South West of England to start my next chapter… a Master’s Degree!

I nearly didn’t, mostly because I got a phone call from the car hire company and I found out that I ‘failed’ a house check… long story, but it’s sorted now! Managed to book another car, although it’s slightly more expensive, and it was all rather stressful as this all happened last minute! But panic over… for now.

As a result of this move, this new chapter, I may not be online as much. I have enlisted the help of a friend to be my Marketing Manager, who will (hopefully) take care of Twitter, my Facebook Page, my Website and Instagram at some point.

My book ‘I fell in Love with a Psychopath’ is still going to be released 29th of September. The e-book is on a pre-release, so it’ll release automatically on the 29th, and I will be releasing the paperback myself on the 29th, if all goes to plan!

The 50% off for the e-book version of ‘It’s My Mistake’ is also still running, if you subscribe to my newsletter on my website you will be automatically given the code:
https://thegirlwhowhispered.wixsite.com/pennyhooper

You can also buy the paperback version here:
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Its-My-Mistake-Penny-Hooper/dp/1985376709

This is the e-book version here (currently at 35% off on the website, but if you sign up to the newsletter, you can get 50% off!): https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/744287

That’s it for now! I will try to blog, as I will be trying to keep my writing going, but I can’t imagine much exciting happening! I will try to keep WattPad up-to-date, but I’m not keen on investing too much time on WattPad these days! Too much time goes into it for such a little return!

But in a years time, I am hoping to push it hard! I will look into opening my own business, getting my books printed by a third party company, attend events (book signing events) and invest in real advertising/ marketing!

All the best!
~Penny.

Coming 29th September!

P.S. Don’t forget I’m on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Feel free to connect here:

Twitter

Facebook

Instagram

Tired today, the rejection took it out of me…

…I think I need time to recoop and recover.

Yesterday, I got my first rejection letter. If you’ve not seen my previous blog post, read it here.

And although, at the time, it didn’t bother me, as I was expecting rejection, so it wasn’t too much of a surprise… I have however, had a few bad days with my writing now.

First, the fail with the Watty Awards 2018 knocking my confidence, then this rejection letter… and to make matters worse, I don’t have a lovely large support network. To keep it brief; a lot of my friends have drifted away from me since I have moved away (literally moved to the other side of the country!) and as such, I don’t have a large support network of friends and family picking me back up again. So, I have to pick myself up, just takes a bit longer.

Anyway, today, I am exceptionally tired. And, I think it’s because of the last few days of negativity.

Current mood:
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On the plus side, I read through a ‘favourite’ chapter of mine from my book; Rose Garden Sanatorium last night, before I went to bed, to cheer me up a little (as well as watching 2 Guns for a bit!) and I was surprised with myself at how well I had written it. Perked me up a little.

I’m also planning on looking into a few new ideas on marketing myself and my work a bit more. Using Instagram more (if it would work for me, currently not working on my mobile!), blogging more, might even look at submitting a short story.

Or… I might just take a break. When my Master’s Degree starts in October, I don’t think I’m going to have much time for anything other than university work and working part-time!

*Wishes on a miracle*

 

Summer work in Portree, Isle of Skye!

So, nearly a week ago, I took a 7 hour coach trip to Portree, Isle of Skye, Scotland. I’m here working over the summer to gather the funds for my Master’s Degree in October!

I must admit, it’s a big struggle!! A few days ago I was in tears because a) my back was killing me, and b) it is really long hours manual work! (Cooking, cleaning, ironing, etc).

But, I’m hoping I can stick it out for the whole 3 months, until mid-September, not only will I get a fat paycheck for my work here, but I can explore Isle of Skye AND gain hotel experience so I can do it again if I want to.

I haven’t seen much of the Island yet, only the sights on the coach trip, and Portree itself. Here are some photos:

The Girl Who Whispered – The Next Chapter

A few of you may already know about my history (and why I call myself The Girl Who Whispered), and I won’t bore you with the details now. But the jist is, I was a very shy girl growing up and as a result I was so shy at school that I became very quiet. I was bulled because I was an easy target and to communicate with friends, I would whisper quietly to them to avoid being heard by the bullies. This progressed into secondary school and I became The Girl Who Whispered.

Well, that shy girl has changed so much since then, she’s no longer shy and she certainly doesn’t whisper anymore. In fact, I am now more confident and willing to speak up for myself. I do so by proving to myself that I am not stupid, like my bullies told me, and I use my writing as a way to express myself and important topics.

Yesterday was my very last day as an Open University BSc Psychology student, I handed in my very last assignment (I actually handed it in on the 30th, as I was worried about the internet going down in this isolated village! But technicalities!). I eagerly and a little impatiently await my results.

I hope to gain a 2:1 grade overall, because if I do. I will be heading to my next chapter of my educational path… a Master’s Degree!

I also am progressing with my writing, I have had a few people comment on my published book (It’s My Mistake) saying that they really enjoyed reading it (I’ll add a link to the bottom of the post if you’d like a copy), I have also had comments about my first draft of ‘I fell in Love with a Psychopath’ which is up on WattPad (also at the bottom) and I am currently in the process of sorting a cover letter and 3,000 word synopsis to send my ‘Rose Garden Sanatorium’ series to a literary agent. I have one already picked out and plan to do more research to find others.

Someone said to me today, my luck is turning around.

I hope so. ❤
Here are the links:
It’s My Mistake (UK Paperback): https://www.amazon.co.uk/Its-My-Mistake-Penny-Hooper/dp/1985376709

It’s My Misake (US Paperback): https://www.amazon.com/Its-My-Mistake-Penny-Hooper/dp/1985376709

It’s My Mistake (Ebook): https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/744287

I fell in Love with a Psychopath (WattPad Draft copy): https://www.wattpad.com/story/137106427-i-fell-in-love-with-a-psychopath%7E-complete

WattPad profile: https://www.wattpad.com/user/penny_bones16
(Where you can read my other written works)

Also, please check out my other posts for sneak chapters of Rose Garden Sanatorium).

Journey into becoming a Data Scientist…

As you may be aware, I wrote a blog post about my potential career as a Data Scientist. I thought I’d update you on how that was going…

Well, the last time I wrote about it, I enrolled on a ‘Introduction to Data Science’ on edX, and I actually really enjoyed it.

Since then, not only have I completed that one (to a point, I still need to complete the end ‘lab’ exercise!), I have also done an Introduction to python for Data Science. I actually messaged edX to see if there was a way to get the cost of the $99 certificate down, as I can’t actually afford to spend that money.

Alongside that, I have also been applying for graduate jobs around the country! Graduate Data Analyst roles and Graduate Data Scientist roles. One was with RBS (in Jersey), one was with the government down in Plymouth, another is in Bath (one of my favourite cities in South/South West England). And some of these roles are very difficult to apply for. I still have to do a Numeracy test on one for the government. Although that one isn’t really Data Science, more Intelligence Analyst. I also did a Numeracy test for the RBS role and I really didn’t do well on it. It wasn’t because it was difficult (although I do struggle with math in general) but the questions were timed and they were ridiculous! Between 75-90 seconds to answer a question whereby you look at the question, read a table, find the right information in the table and calculate the answer using a calculator. Easy. Until I get the bit where I type in the answer and POOF, timed out. Not happy!

Anyway, that’s where I’m at. Doing a few courses in Data Science, Python programming (will move onto SQL and R soon!), applying for Graduate jobs and also trying to refresh my Math too!

Fingers crossed!

Standing up to Bullying – don’t stop the dreamers!

I found out this morning that people in the village have been talking about me (I’m not surprised, it’s what they do best; gossip). But what made me laugh was that someone mentioned I’m writing a book. I am. But I am doing so much more than that. And I don’t mean my university studies either. I mean my scheming. I have ideas. Ideas that I want to turn into plans. I am using my time to not only write (and finish my studies) but to come up with a plan for the future. The future isn’t exactly set in stone. But I have an outline of what I want it to look like.

In the past I have spoken out about my ideas, my dreams, some haven’t worked out (most of them actually), either because I changed my mind or because other things have got in the way (like my studies getting in the way of my plan to travel the world for charity), and I’ve had people ridicule me (including family) and try to push me down, but I haven’t let it deter me. It just makes me stronger. I don’t care what people think of me, think of me what you like, but I know who I am and I’m going to keep pushing to be the best version of me as possible.

Do you think Marie Curie would be in history books if she gave up when she was refused entry to Krakow University because she was a woman? She was later given two nobel prizes. She was the first woman to recieve one. The first person and only woman to win twice. The only person to win in two different science fields.

Do you think Galileo Galilei would be in history books if gave up when the church tried to thwart his ideas that Earth wasn’t the centre of the universe and revolves around a sun?

Do you think Thomas Edison would be in history books now if he gave up when he tried thousands of failed attempts to create the first lightbulb?

I’m not saying I will be in history books, or find the cure to cancer or even do anything worthy at all, that’s a bit pompus, but I am saying that people doubt people who may one day be brilliant all the time. That’s what keeps me going, when it feels like everyone is against me. I’m not interested in getting into a history book, I’m not even interested in being formally recognised for my efforts or possible future accomplishments. But I am interested in proving a point. Proving that people shouldn’t look down upon others, don’t push them down because you think it’s funny, to fit into a crowd, or because you think they’re just ‘talk and no action’, those people, with the dreams and the ones we should be supporting.

I am also interested in pushing people to follow their dreams, no matter how silly they feel they are (unless they’re morally wrong, then I have a problem!) and being the best version of themselves.

Yes, I am writing a book. I would love nothing more for it to inspire people. But I’m not building my hopes up that it will. I’ll push really hard for it, but I’m not setting myself up for a fall just in case. I am also studying psychology, and want to push hard to get a PhD one day, contribute in some way in the world of knowledge.

I also still want to do things for charity, it might not be that round the world trip, I did a charity abseil (found my weakness is in lack of support though thus not much fundraising happened, so am finding other avenues to help instead) but I also have the idea to set up a business, a social enterprise to bring people, companies, charities and the community together to make the world a better place.

Feel free to think “She’s all talk and no action”. I might not accomplish everything, but I’m going to still damn well try to do my best! But I don’t care what you say or think about me. I care about helping others. DONT push other people down to make yourself feel better, THEY might be the next Marie Curie or Thomas Edison!