Amazing how a few days can turn into a few months...
@Did @Noedig - thank you both for your comments, although I have not (yet) gone to Australia, I have had plenty to keep me busy!
A lot has happened in the past 18 months. As I mentioned previously, about three months after finishing my last day at my previous job, I was offered a new position elsewhere. It's a small company which provides niche services, predominantly within the water industry. Whilst the role started out as maternity cover managing data for clients, it has progressed into a project management position which oversees everything from enquiry to closing out of each contract. Despite taking a lot of my time, the job has been really interesting, and I've learned a huge amount. Working for a small business in a diverse role has helped a great deal as I get directly involved in each of the processes within the service delivery. It hasn't been without its difficulties, but on the whole, I've thoroughly enjoyed the experience so far, and I've made a heap of connections - many of whom have become good friends. Whilst the £26k salary is unspectacular, it's enough to stash a good chunk (approx. 60%) away each month after my modest living costs. With consistent saving and some stock market growth my assets now sit somewhere around £67k. Hoping to start increasing my income through salary rises and side gigs in the near future.
Outside work I've been busy, too. I spent the summer playing cricket for a new club in a higher league, making loads of good mates in the process and having an awesome time. I also started playing hockey again after a few years' break, so much of my free time has been spent training, competing and socializing with one of the two teams.
I also took a two week trip to Malta, Athens & Sofia with my Brother. We chose to go in October when the tourist crowds have lessened and prices have dropped, whilst also still enjoying warm, sunny weather. We managed to get flights from Birmingham > Malta > Athens > Sofia > Birmingham for a total of £94 each, which is ludicrous when you think that it can cost as much to get a train from my hometown to London! Anyway, we had a great time, staying in hostels, wandering all over the place and enjoying a relaxing break from the normal routine.
I've also had a number of other adventures including watching Brian Wilson's Pet Sounds on tour at Glastonbury Abbey, cycling/running all over the place & countless great nights out and meals with friends.
Still vegan, still loving it, although it's been a long time since I made the frozen banana ice cream
Hope everyone is well