There isn't a Job Centre in Bishop's Stortford, so I have to travel to Hertford to sign on every two weeks. Due to the distance and the bus timetable, it is a four hour round trip which costs £4.70 in bus fare and £1.20 on a pot of English Breakfast tea in the delightful Serendipity cafe (which I resort to when I have read as many book covers in WH Smiths than I can bear whilst killing time for the bus home).
Don't get me wrong here - I need to count my blessings. Hertford is a lovely Job Centre, as Job Centres go. But that doesn't mean that I want to be there any more than I have to, which is what happened today.
Last week I was away on holiday and before you ask, no, I can't afford it and no, I didn't pay for it. But in order to receive my Job Seekers Allowance I had to a) convince the Job Centre that despite the fact that I was going virtually insane being on benefits and needed a mental break, that I would still be actively seeking work during my holiday and willing to return should some cruel bastard actually offer me work during the one week that I had chose to relax and b) make an appointment to visit the Hertford Job Centre on my return to prove that I was back.
So that is what I did today. One hour there, 3 minutes in the Job Centre, two hours of hanging around (drinking tea and doing what I could with my project plan), and one hour back. £5.90 and 4 hours down the pan.
And yes, I did have a wonderful holiday. Or at least:
- I demonstrated to my nephews what real pain looks like when a person hits the water at speed coming off a water slide and takes half of the pool up their nose.
- I gave piggy back and shoulder rides and carries whilst carrying a large bag filled with wet towels, a large camera and several tons of pick 'n' mix (MINE!, not theirs. I am not yet loving enough to share my pick 'n' mix with anyone. But I did buy them some).
- I bruised my spine in several places (again, coming down the water slide at unnecessary speed)
- I demonstrated how to feed the local wildlife, including geese, ducks, rabbits, a moorhen and several rather tame squirrels (one of which came regularly inside the villa to take monkey nuts from my shoulder, and eventually got fed up and peed on me. I took it graciously).
- I went out for one evening with my sister and got pissed on a single Mojito... Oh how very Me.