Thursday, 9 November 2017

Expect The Unexpected...


Although I'm technically on a 'career-break', when I received an email last week asking if I'd like my name to be put forward for some work in a massive Computer Science Department I couldn't resist so I agreed; not really expecting anything to come of it. A few days later I had a call on my mobile inviting me for an "informal chat", so today I popped down there just to find out a bit more about what they were looking for. I was in the office at noon and by 2pm I'd had a phone call offering me the position! Stunned doesn't begin to cover it.

Turns out that everything I'd learnt in my previous post is exactly what they wanted from an administrator, so next week I will unexpectedly begin the next new chapter in my career. Who could have predicted that before the end of 2017 I'd be employed alongside people working with Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality, Robotics, Cloud Computing and a whole lot more? It just goes to show that you really never know what's just around the corner...


Monday, 6 November 2017

Stress Echo...


The last time I was up at 6am it involved a flight to somewhere fabulous, however this was no holiday; quite the opposite. A good friend was taking me miles out of my comfort zone, in every sense of the word, to a specialist heart centre in order to undergo tests, including one cheerfully named a 'stress echo'. Any test including the word stress was never going to be much fun, and so the tone was set for the day.

I can't remember the last time I was on a bike and I've certainly never ridden one topless, but there's a first time for everything. In my mis-spent youth, having a man I'd only just met apply cold gel to a probe and run it across my bare boobs would've been considered a 'blindin' night out', however, when you're past your prime, not to mention stone cold sober, it's surprising quite how bashful you become. Onlookers included a nurse, my cardiologist and a registrar (should've sold tickets!)

Well, the good news is that my heart muscle is fine, the not-so-good bit is confirmation that I will, at some point, face valve replacement surgery. Ho humm... There's also a slight issue regarding tachycardia as my resting heart was beating 100 times per minute, but it may have been partly due to anxiety. At least I've now had a thorough cardiac review and have been able to speak to my cardiologist in person about my concerns, and I'm now reassured that I'm not about to suddenly conk out unexpectedly. I do still have to undergo a 48 hour heart monitor test, so there's more fun to be had from the NHS at the end of the month, so I shall look forward to that. Wonder how many beats per minute it'll do after a couple of espressos...?


Saturday, 4 November 2017

Big Bangs...


Anyone who's ever met me knows full well I don't like fireworks, but in an attempt to push my own boundaries I decided to put aside my anxieties over large crowds, big bangs and a morbid fear of being in a close proximity to fire, and attend the annual fireworks display at the university where I work. 

I have to admit that the atmosphere on campus was quite exciting and the fact it was after dark simply ramped up the intensity. There were plenty of stalls, all lit up, in one of the main squares, and queues for hot food were growing longer by the minute. Hundreds of staff and students were already on a slope enjoying the DJs and live music on the floodlit stage and before long the university's own fire display team were hard at work thrilling (and terrifying) the onlookers.

Despite my reservations, it was impossible not to get caught up in all the excitement when the first rocket launched high into the sky, although the racket it made when it exploded shook my insides. Apparently, it's impossible to put both fingers in your ears when taking photos, so I just had to embrace temporary deafness and enjoy the pretty colours in the sky.

I returned home cold and stinking of smoke, but I'm proud of myself for stepping so far out of my comfort zone and I have to admit that I actually enjoyed it. Time to find out what else I can do when I put my mind to it...



Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Counting My Blessings...


I've enjoyed some quality time with my family this week and it's been extremely rewarding. At the weekend I spent a whole afternoon with my gorgeous twin daughters; putting the world to rights and catching up on all their news over cups of hot, sweet tea and fancy biscuits; and today I've spent several hours with my elderly mother celebrating her birthday.

I met mum off the bus in the town centre and we had our usual browse in shop windows as we passed them en route to the local park. It's mild for the time of year so we were able to perch ourselves on a bench overlooking lovely autumnal scenery while enjoying a good old natter about anything and everything. As the town hall clock struck twelve we sauntered towards a nearby cafe for coffee and baguettes, and once sustained off we went again for a further wander through the town until it was time for her to catch the bus back home.

I'm so lucky to have my mum still with me and even luckier to have produced such beautiful, intelligent and caring children. I really do feel extremely blessed...


Friday, 27 October 2017

Happy Haggling...


Waking up in a bad mood, for no obvious reason, I figured I may as well use this uncharacteristic grumpiness to my advantage by giving my phone and broadband provider a stern talking to about a recent price hike. The predictable auto-selection process did nothing to improve my attitude and by the time I'd discovered the 'If you're thinking of leaving us' option I was more than a tad annoyed, however, shouting never gets you anywhere so I took a deep breath and put forth my complaint in a constructive yet forceful manner.

I'll give him his dues, the poor lad on the receiving end of my tirade listened patiently and accepted all the arguments I put forward without attempting to defend the company or it's policies, and after nervously asking for a few more details from me he somehow managed to halve my monthly Direct Debit with immediate effect.

As if by magic, my mood was instantly transformed into cheery with a hint of victory, and within the space of ten minutes I'd completely turned around the outlook for my day, not to mention the huge chunk of cash I'd saved. Can't wait for the next time I get out of bed the wrong side, I could save myself a fortune!

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Bystander Intervention Training...


If you witnessed someone being bullied by their partner would you say anything, or turn a blind eye? Do you make sure your friends get home safely after a night out, or do you simply assume they're old enough to look after themselves? If you see an extremely drunk girl being led out of a venue by a man do you assume she's OK or do you voice your concerns to a doorman? Those are the type of questions posed at today's workshop on 'Bystander Intervention'.

We learnt that even a small action could make a massive difference and it was interesting to discover how to use safe and appropriate intervention skills; something which is quite empowering. Of course, it's not an exact science and at the end of the day you need to ensure your own safety when choosing whether or not to act, however, if everyone took a moment to assess a potentially challenging situation there's a chance that you might be able to make a positive difference to someone's life.
#ItEndsNow


Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Wired For Sound...


At my scheduled cardiology appointment I had the usual ECG with a side-order of echocardiogram before spending half an hour discussing my recent health issues with the heart valve nurse. I was reassured to discover that the leaky valves are no worse, however due to some new chest 'niggles,' along with swollen ankles and the cough that I've had since January, I'm now going to be asked to return in a couple of weeks time to have a heart monitor fitted. I shall apparently be wearing my funky tech for two days so they can see what's actually going on with my ticker, so that'll be fun.

In less exciting news I'm also going to be facing an invasive angiogram to find out whether my arteries are furring up like an old kettle; which could explain my symptoms. I have to admit I'm less than keen but I have little choice if I want my cardiologist to make a full and accurate diagnosis. Although it's positive that the NHS is doing all it can to check every inch of my insides, it's not a procedure I relish.

Oh well, at least for today I've come away with a little bag full of new tablets to try out in the meantime, so hopefully by the time I have to have my arteries filled with something colourful that'll show up on an xray I might've stopped hacking my lungs up. Fingers crossed!

Monday, 25 September 2017

A&E Wasn't On My To Do List Today...


I've known about my heart issues for a couple of years, and am used to the frequent palpitations, so when my ticker started feeling 'unusual' at lunchtime I was a little concerned. I'm a firm believer in the adage 'you know your own body', and mine was decidedly not right, so when I also started feeling hot and cold and then giddy and faint I figured I needed to get myself seen asap.

Within 10 minutes I was getting into a taxi and 10 minutes after that I was in A&E, struggling to remember my address, shaking like a leaf and clearly looking like hell. All credit to the doctors and nurses at the hospital because I was fast-tracked through, having all manner of tests done until I finally conked out. Luckily, a nearby paramedic helped the nurse get me onto a trolley so I could be swiftly moved to a more appropriate examination area. Once hooked up to the machines I was eventually lucid enough to ring a friend, who spent the next 7 hours by my side.

After constant monitoring, endless blood pressure tests, an xray, and two extremely painful blood tests I was finally given the good news that I hadn't had a heart attack and was given antibiotics for an infection before being allowed home. I'm very, very grateful to all of the doctors and nurses who, despite being busy, made sure that I was well looked after throughout. I'm also very thankful that I have such wonderful friends...


Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Keeping Up With New Trends...


It never ceases to amaze me how fast social media trends come and go. Long gone are the Myspace days and even Friends Reunited fell by the wayside, however, I'm trying my best to remain 'in the loop' as social media skills are highly transferable in the workplace nowadays.

I must admit, that conversations with my tech-savvy daughters about what's currently in or out of favour is a bit like navigating your way around a foreign country with an extremely limited knowledge of the language, but I'm doing my best to keep up.

Alongside the essential Facebook and Twitter accounts, plus LinkedIn, Google+, Youtube, Wordpress and Blogger, I recently found myself signing up for Pinterest, Instagram and Tumblr. It's now becoming so time-consuming updating everything that I'm having to use a social media management tool! On the bright side, that's another new ability to add to my technical expertise...

Tumblr

Instagram

Pinterest

Friday, 15 September 2017

Indoor Gardening...


Since re-vamping my home over the last couple of years, including installing dozens of new house-plants, I've inadvertently created a lovely hobby for myself; indoor gardening. It's amazing how these things can escalate, but if you buy a couple of spider plants here and some peace lilies there, before you know it you're living in a fabulous jungle. What's more, there's something quite cathartic in snipping off the odd dead leaf here and there, and keeping everything looking luscious.

I used to have house-plants many years ago but life, family, work and so on got in the way of tending to them, and inevitably, as each one bit the dust I just didn't bother to replace it. Now I have fewer distractions and have more disposable income to spend on the things I really enjoy, which means that not only does the house look green and fresh inside, thanks to the purifying qualities of plants the air I breathe is better too. It seems that the more I look after them, the more they look after me!

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Career Break...


Well, after thirteen months in the department my 'temporary' contract finally came to an end and I'm now taking the opportunity to have some much needed R 'n' R before I begin the next phase of my career. 

After an emotional final week, when I was treated to a fabulous night out with the girls, followed by a cooked breakfast in the canteen and then a third treat; a G&T in the bar where I was unexpectedly presented with gifts and a card; I've shut down my lovely new PC for the very last time and am now taking a bit of time out to decide what my next step will be.

I'll continue to do a bit of casual work here and there so I have a few pennies coming in, but it's important that after working so hard to build up my experience, (and my bank balance), I now step back, re-focus and look forward to the next exciting job opportunity. 

For now, however, I'm just going to sit down, relax, and enjoy what's left of the British Summer...

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Tacos, Tortillas and Tequila…


Just had another departmental night out on the town. It’s a hard life getting chauffeur driven to parties, all paid for by your employer, but somebody has to do it.

We'd all met up for pre-meal cocktails at a nearby bar before inflicting the unsuspecting Mexican restaurant with our raucous laughter at snapchat while wearing sombreros. Enid Blyton would've had a field day writing Six Go Mad in Mexico, although it clearly wouldn't have been a very suitable read for children.

It was a vegetarian delight to see so many different options on the menu, so it would've been rude not to try as many of them as was humanly possible (thank heavens for elasticated waistbands). The tortilla chips and salsas were a welcome appetiser while the cheese quesadillas with chilli cheese fries certainly soaked up the tequila margaritas (and beers!) There was only one dessert I was interested in and that was the tequila sorbet - oh my poor liver. 

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Death and Taxes...


Benjamin Franklin famously once said "In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes", and in recent weeks I've experienced both. After chasing Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs for well over a year I finally got my tax rebate - hurrah. It was a relatively small sum of money, but it was the principle that mattered most to me. It was MY money and therefore I didn't see why anyone else should have it. On a sadder note, I experienced the passing of a very dear friend who I'd known for the past twenty years.

While I realise that anyone reaching their eighties is judged to have had 'a good innings', especially if they'd suffered bouts of ill health during their twilight years, it's still upsetting when the inevitable happens. At times like these it makes you more aware of your own mortality and the preciousness of living. It also makes you realise that you only get one life and you mustn't waste a single moment of it. Ted taught me many lessons, but the one which I will cherish the most is nicely summed up by British author and poet C. S. Lewis; " You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream"...

Rest In Peace.

Friday, 21 July 2017

Graduation Day...


Back in 2008 I missed my own graduation due to the fact I was still recovering from major surgery, so when the opportunity arose to attend the ceremony for the department where I currently work, I jumped at the chance. 

On the day itself, campus resembled Hogwarts as hundreds of little ‘Harrys and Hermiones’ gathered in the squares wearing black robes and mortar boards. The air of excitement was tangible as the Professional Services team made our way to the venue to watch the latest batch of students to go from undergraduates to graduates with a firm handshake from the Chancellor; The Right Honourable Baroness Shami Chakrabarti CBE; in front of proud friends and family members in the audience. 

After the new graduates were led out of the lecture theatre by a procession of fully-gowned academics, we sprinted up the hill so that we could welcome them all into the lakeside marquee for the less formal celebrations with bubbly and canap├ęs. Maybe it was all the excitement, or quite possibly the booze, but I've now made the decision that for 2018 I’ll mark the ten year anniversary since I became a BA (Hons) by gowning up as Alumni. A year from now there will be a very, VERY excitable, middle-aged peroxide blonde running around campus, beaming from ear to ear and yelling “I'm a wizard!”… 


Monday, 17 July 2017

Liquid Lunch...


The University where I work was recently awarded a Gold award for teaching the same day as a Gold rating in learning, so along with various other celebrations on campus there was an invite extended to all staff and students to attend a thank-you event in a woodland marquee. Obviously, never one to turn down a freebie, I booked my Golden ticket and spent my Monday lunch-break rubbing shoulders with the Vice Chancellor and various other senior management and department heads, as you do!

With the sun beating down and several hundred people crammed inside, it quickly turned into a sauna, so knocking back liquid was the only way to keep hydrated Partaking of Prosecco in a posh tent certainly beats scoffing a couple of cheese spread sarnies with a coffee at my desk, although booze at lunchtime probably wasn't the best way to ensure that anything remotely productive happened in my office after 2pm. Hmm.. I can see a theme emerging…

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Strawberries and Wine...


I've just attended my first annual staff picnic and in spite of concerns regarding the weather we were able to spend our lunchtime sitting on tartan blankets, surrounded by picnickers from all the other departments, munching on big, fat, juicy strawberries under blue skies beside the 18th century 4 star hotel on site. Even better, there was a chilled bottle of white wine involved.

Despite a rather persistent wasp, it was so nice to be out of the office and into the sunshine doing something so quintessentially British, although cramming fresh fruit down my neck like it’s going out of fashion during my dinner break might not have been such a good idea.  It’s also quite hard to focus on work in the afternoon when you feel ever so slightly tipsy. Thank heavens for strong coffee…


Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Birthday Girl...


Birthdays are never something I particularly relish, especially now I'm fully aware I have far more behind me than ahead of me, however, when your grown up babies visit with fabulously thoughtful gifts and a beautiful card that IS cause for a celebration.

Along with the posh dark chocolates (my favourites) and proper Steampunk sunglasses (with a leather case, drawstring pouch and cleaning cloth), I had a lovely long chat with them, as always. We passed several hours within the blink of an eye while munching on chocolate coated malted milk biscuits and jammie dodgers along with the customary cups of tea, with Mr Kipling French fancies as a special treat.

Despite me waving a tearful farewell to 54 and resentfully accepting 55 my twin daughters always have the knack of knowing exactly how to put a great big smile back on my face. I'm so proud of my girls, who have grown up to be beautiful, talented, kind and generous young ladies – I love them to the moon and back…

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Cocktail Crazy...


When my Departmental Manager announced she was leaving I actually felt quite sad; she was the person who gave me this job and therefore completely changed my life. However, all good things must come to an end, but we didn't want her to disappear into the sunset without having a decent send off, so an up-market restaurant was booked, taxis arranged and off we all went for some posh nosh and cocktails, all paid for by the Department.

I have to admit, being chauffeur driven into town to be wined and dined with all of my workmates is something I could get quite used to given half a chance, although maybe it wasn't such a good idea to schedule it for a weekday evening. Within the first few minutes round one of kicked off with cosmopolitans, white Russians and martinis, while numerous other alcoholic joys were being shaken, and stirred, by our amiable bartender. After three solid hours of knocking back gin and prosesso I, for one, was in no fit state to rock up to the office 9am the next morning, so humble apologies were shakily emailed and I spent the entire day with the hangover from hell. 

Despite the rather unfortunate after-effects, it was an exceedingly good night (from what I can remember), with tons of merriment and girlie chatter, and we'd certainly given our DM a night she won't forget in a hurry.
Cheers!


Sunday, 18 June 2017

The Boat That Rocked...


Fathers Day can be quite a sad affair when your dad is no longer alive, so I was extremely grateful that a friend suggested a trip to the coast to get me out of the house for a few hours. It was actually the hottest day of the year so far, so the slightly cooler breeze from the sea was extremely welcome.

We'd ended up in Harwich (Essex), and after a lovely walk along the promenade, admiring the dozens of ships and yachts of all shapes and sizes, I was treated to lunch and an ice-cold drink. Satiated by paninis and fruit juice we continued strolling along the seafront when we came across the actual vessel which featured in the Bill Nighy film The Boat That Rocked! 

It's a good job I'd taken my blood pressure tablets earlier because the excitement was almost too much for me to cope with; especially when we discovered it costs just £2 each to spend as much time as you want on it. Well, it just goes to show that you never can tell how your day will pan out, and sometimes something fabulous is just around the corner...literally!

Monday, 5 June 2017

Meerkat Monday...


When you work at a large University campus, there's always something new and exciting happening, and today was no exception. In order to give the students something else to focus on during the main exam period, the Student Union had arranged for one of the outdoor spaces to host a Petting Zoo. This proved to be extremely popular, not only with the students but with staff too.

Little did I know that when I left home early this morning I'd be spending my lunch-break surrounded by chickens, ducks, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, a tortoise, a dog and..... meerkats! I may be just an office administrator, working a regular 9 to 5 job, but life's certainly never dull - and it's only Monday. Goodness knows what Tuesday will bring...!


Sunday, 28 May 2017

We Reap What We Sow...


For the past fortnight I've been working 6 days a week, so the fact that this is a Bank Holiday weekend is very welcome indeed. It's been busy in the office, and also exciting with the arrival of my brand new computer with shiny new keyboard and mouse along with two great big monitors, but nice surprises aside it's actually a welcome relief to finally be able to spend a couple of days in my much-neglected garden.

In my absence, however, Mother Nature has decided to spoil me, and when I stepped outside this fine, sunny morning I was greeted by the sight of dozens of bright orange Californian poppies, stunning giant red ornamental poppies and delicate blue love-in-the-mist. It appears that many of last years plants have self-seeded, and the mixed wild-flower seeds I randomly scattered at the end of last summer are now flourishing.

The universe sometimes has unique ways of rewarding those who go the extra mile in order to improve their own circumstances, and while I've strived to undertake more responsibility in the workplace, despite also undergoing numerous medical tests for ongoing health issues, I'm now reaping a few of the benefits...


Saturday, 6 May 2017

Oops I Did It Again...


Since January, I've been feeling distinctly below par with a cough, and as yet none of the NHS bods who've seen me so far can tell me why; despite numerous tests, let alone come up with a cure. It hasn't stopped me from getting on with my new job and it certainly didn't prevent me from enjoying a week of Spanish sunshine back in March, but it's been quite draining nonetheless.

So, after weighing up various pros and cons, I've just booked another holiday (as you do) and I'm feeling better already! It won't be for a while, which will allow time for my medical woes to hopefully be fixed, but at least it's something nice to look forward to. This will be my very first proper 'adults only' holiday, so that's going to be quite a revelation I suspect, and as usual I've opted for all-inclusive in The Canaries. 

Ahhhh... I can picture it now... sun, sand and sangria... and absolutely no need to worry about acting 'inappropriately' around other people's offspring. I have a feeling this could get messy... how fabulous!

Friday, 28 April 2017

Famous Faces...

When you work for any organisation that's remotely Governmental, the minute something kicks off  in the world; let alone anything as 'exciting' as an unexpected General Election; you find yourself surrounded by people busy giving television interviews and having articles published here, there and just about everywhere. As the person responsible for the department's social media, amongst other things, it's certainly keeping me busy at the moment that's for sure.

It's a good job I don't get starstruck or I'd never get any work done these days as my office seems to be attracting all and sundry. However, if any of these academic 'celebrities' ever decides to get a bit above their station, I will simply remind them that we're all pretty much the same underneath... as I show them for the umpteenth time how to use the photocopier...

Monday, 17 April 2017

Making It My Own...


Well, it's been a couple of weeks since I moved into my own office and I've been busy settling into my new routine. It's certainly a steep learning curve, and there's plenty more things I'll need to get to grips with in the next few months, but so far so good.

Obviously, when I'm not at meetings or dealing with enquiries I'm attempting to replicate Kew Gardens in a very limited space, much the the bemusement of visitors and colleagues alike. I've so far managed to fill the windowsills and have been moving stuff around to create some brand new areas where I can pop a bit of foliage and a few blooms to create a beautiful and positive working environment.

It may just be a 'workplace' but in my opinion, whenever it's possible (and practical) it's important to make the space your own, and my 'own' very much involves flowers.


Friday, 31 March 2017

Back To Teguise...

I had two choices regarding my remaining annual leave; stay at home and generally potter around doing not very much, or return to the Canaries. Guess what I did... Yes, just three months after returning from Lanzarote I chose to return there for a cheeky, Spanish spring break.

I'd been to Costa Teguise before so it seemed a wise move to stick with familiar territory, albeit at a different complex this time. Just four minutes walk to a giant beach and literally surrounded by fabulous shops, bars and restaurants, the location was spot on. I was allocated a great apartment with sunset views and although the weather was bordering on insanely hot on a few occasions, there was always plenty of iced sangria to cool me down.

During my stay it was the annual triathlon and I've never seen so much lycra in all my life; wasn't sure where to put my eyes! I also managed a return visit to Puerto Del Carmen to see how it now looks eight and a half years after my last visit (quite different as it turns out!) I wonder where I'll be off to next?

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Special People...


It's wonderful when your grown-up children want to regularly pop round, but it's an even bigger compliment when their friends ask if they can come along and meet you too! The fact that I always provide a variety of delicious cakes and fancy biscuits might help, but they always seem to enjoy coming home and therefore I suspect it's potentially down to previous, complimentary post-visit reviews which led to me meeting their lovely chum. Not only was I treated to an additional guest, I was given a gift bag filled with chocolatey goodies by my lovely girlies which was very unexpected, but much appreciated. As usual, we chatted about anything and everything, and yet again time just flew by. 

I'm so grateful that I have my gorgeous daughters as I'm well aware that there are women out there who sadly haven't been blessed with offspring, and I can't imagine how unfulfilled they might feel. Bringing up children is a roller-coaster ride, often with as many downs as there are ups, but eventually, whether you like it or not, they'll fly the nest. However, if you love them enough they'll always find their way back home. As the saying goes, "Home is where the heart is..."

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Sick Pay...


When you're self-employed it's really simple; if you don't work you don't get any money. However, now that I've ditched self-employment to become a bona fide employee I'm discovering the benefit of 'sick pay'. What a truly marvellous phenomenon it is!

After suffering with persistent cough, instead of continuing to struggle in to work in order to ensure I could afford to pay my bills, I was able to take a couple of days off so that my poor old lungs could recover, without me getting stressed out over money. Being able to rest at home fully focussed on simply getting better was not only good for my physical health but also my mental well-being.

This is actually a win-win situation all round as not only was I able to return to work fighting fit within a relatively short period of time, my co-workers no longer had to listening to me hacking up my lungs all day. Result!

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Good Friends...


Unlike some, I may not be able to list more than a hundred names in my circle of friends, but I'm hugely grateful to have the small, but perfectly formed, group of people in my life who are always there whenever I'm in need.

After several weeks of enduring a persistent cough, and assuming that there was no reason to trouble the NHS because "It's just a virus" and "There's a lot of it about"; not to mention the fact that it'd be easier to get a date with Johnny Depp than a GP appointment these days; I found myself two days ago hardly able to breathe and feeling extremely unwell.

Despite it being late in the evening, my selfless chum came to pick me up, took me to the hospital walk-in centre, and then waited two and a half hours with me until I was finally examined, before returning me safely back home. As it turns out I needed antibiotics, so it really was necessary for me to seek medical assistance asap to avoid things turning nasty.

I'm a very lucky lady indeed and I'll never take my mates for granted. I really do appreciate everything they do for me. Thank you...!

Saturday, 25 February 2017

As One Door Closes...


My temporary contract was due to end soon, and I was actively on the hunt for my next career move, when my manager called me in for a meeting. It turns out that I must've made a pretty good impression since I arrived six months ago as instead of finalising my paperwork and bidding farewell to co-workers I was offered a new role within the same department. Well, that was unexpected to say the least.

Brand new responsibilities means having to start at the beginning again, albeit in a familiar environment surrounded by people I've already been working with, but I did it before and I know full well I can do it again. There's a lot of loose ends to tie up before the big day and plenty of questions still to be answered, but as of April I'll be closing one door and literally opening a brand new one - the door to my very own office!

Friday, 10 February 2017

Livin' La Vida Loca...


As I've never held a proper salaried position before, and am therefore unfamiliar with the concept of annual leave, I genuinely thought I'd used up all of my hours when I spent half of December in The Canaries - but apparently not! After a quick check of the works HR website I discovered that I had over a week of paid leave to take on a use-it-or-lose-it basis. So after a hectic couple of hours trawling the holiday websites and a bit of maths, I've managed to nab myself a cheeky week in the Spanish sunshine in the spring. OMG I just love being an employee.

I've only just lost the tan from the previous holiday and here I am now planning yet another all-inclusive week of sun, sand and sangria. This time last year I was self-employed, and only bringing in enough cash to just about cover my bills. Never in a million years did I think that within twelve months I'd be enjoying all the perks of being paid to laze around under palm trees for the second time in under six months. It just goes to show that you never, ever know what's just around the corner... so you should make the most of any opportunities while you still can.

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Embracing all Things Hygge...


In recent months I've discovered a new word (well, it's an ancient word but is new to me); hygge. Apparently, this interesting Danish word (pronounced 'hue gar' or thereabouts) has no English translation; the closest we get to it is 'cosiness'. With temperatures outside rather chilly, and no signs as yet that spring is on the horizon, it feels rather satisfying that something referring to contentment gained from simple pleasures such as snuggling beneath a blanket or embracing the warm glow of a candle is currently 'the in thing'.

Soothing acts of wearing fluffy socks and taking time out to mull over a cuppa are apparently all part and parcel of this phenomenon, which is a happy coincidence because they're things I already like doing. Who knew that my regular bowl of porridge, a spoonful of honey in a warm glass of brandy and even enjoying a slice of cake are all massively positive for my mental well-being. In an uncertain world it's good to know that little nuggets of joy can easily find their way into your life, gently calming the nerves and making you feel at peace... and it's got a name (hygge).


Saturday, 14 January 2017

Happy New Year...


It's been a busy start to 2017 and I can't believe that the first half of January is almost behind me. Having bid farewell to self-employment at the end of 2016, my salaried job role is taking up most of my time these days, which is really positive. There's a massive amount to learn, and at times I feel as if my brain will burst, but along with the challenges there are more than enough rewards to make up for it, and being part of a team is a dream come true.

My shifts are longer than I'm used to, but this became a lot easier once I settled back into my new routine after the Christmas break, and the bonus is that I'm getting fitter. I'm slowly getting used to the sheer volume of business meetings I'm now attending, along with various training days, and although my schedule is filling up with work it's also being filled with fun stuff such as the monthly team breakfasts, and will soon include an 'away day'!

Never in a million years did I ever imagine that my life could change so quickly and dramatically, which just goes to show that you never know what's just around the next corner. If you want to move upwards you have to move forwards...

Thursday, 29 December 2016

Making Time For Those You Love...



With a hectic pre-Christmas schedule it was impossible to find a mutually suitable time to visit my mother before the big day this year, therefore a compromise had to be found. After much thought I suggested we indulged in 'afternoon tea' at a posh hotel fairly close to where mum lives, so that we can enjoy a good old natter whilst indulging in a bit of luxury. Thankfully she agreed to this idea and so today I set off early, in sub-zero temperatures, to catch the bus.

Her little face lit up as I was dropped off, and we immediately began putting the world to rights. After an hour of thawing out at her place we hopped into a taxi which took us to the hotel, where I'd reserved us a table overlooking a pretty pond. Despite having walked past there literally hundreds of times, my mother had never stepped foot inside, so to be able to finally treat her to a little bit of luxury was wonderful.

Afternoon tea was sublime; delicious food and drink and excellent service, I really couldn't have asked for more from them. Of course, mum was chuffed to bits and even though we didn't manage to see each other before Christmas Day for the first time in my life, today has more than made up for it. When life gets busy it's sometimes a little too easy to sideline people in order to fit everything in. However, family is very precious, and it's vital to make sure that you somehow MAKE the time to be with those you love...

Sunday, 25 December 2016

When your Babies Come Home For Christmas...


I've had such an amazing few months that I didn't believe anything could top it, but I didn't anticipate my gorgeous daughters would announce that they'd be coming back home to spend Christmas Day with me! Oh my goodness, I honestly couldn't ask for a better present.

Of course, I did the typical mum thing of going overboard with daft gifts and bought way too many festive snacks, but nothing gives me more pleasure than being able to spoil my children at this special time of year.

Being able to eat, drink and be merry with the people I love most means everything to me, and today has been wonderful. Such joys are precious and I will never, ever take them for granted. We pulled crackers, wore paper hats, and consumed far too much junk food, but that's what a traditional Christmas Day is all about and it was magical.

Friday, 16 December 2016

I'm Back...!


It’s mid-December and yet I have a fabulous sun tan. Yes, I’ve just returned from a magnificent all-inclusive holiday to Playa Blanca in Lanzarote, staying at a 4-star hotel overlooking the islands of Fuerteventura and Los Lobos! I have to admit it’s going to be something of a challenge adjusting back into ‘normal’ life after half a month of being treated like a princess, but I need to go back to work so I can earn enough money to go away again.

I've been waited on hand and foot by maids and guest services staff, visited a stunning marina full of expensive yachts, seen amazing sunsets, eaten in the very best a la carte restaurants, watched entertaining evening shows, got drenched on a catamaran bouncing across waves en route to Fuerteventura and even been in a motorised dinghy with two very fit, but mad, Spaniards!

The icing on the cake is the fact that while I was lounging beneath palm trees, sipping white wine from chilled glasses, I was still getting paid a salary. Oh my word, this new job really has opened up a totally new world for me and it’s changed my life completely. It seems that good things really do come to those who wait…

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Looking Forward to Christmas...


I just can't believe how quickly my life is changing these days, and it's all good. A few months ago, although things were going quite well, I was beginning to feel like I was in a bit of a rut. Same part-time, self-employed job I'd had for years, no firm plans for travelling, and nothing particularly thrilling on the horizon. However, within a few short months I've begun a brand new career, booked a fantastic overseas holiday and the icing on the cake is that I've just found out that I shall be spending Christmas with the people I love more than anything else in the whole, wide, world; my gorgeous daughters.

I'm not usually a festive person, and I normally treat Christmas Day itself with complete indifference, but this year it's going to be amazing. I'm already excited about my 'babies' coming home and I just know I'll go completely over the top and spoil them rotten. Although the new salaried position is terrific, and the vacation will be stunning, there's nothing quite like the simple act of spending quality time with your children to make you feel special, and it's something I will always cherish. "Santa Claus is Coming to Town...!"


Monday, 14 November 2016

Exciting Times Ahead...


When an email suddenly appeared in my inbox from my new boss asking me to pop along to her office, without giving away any clues as to why, I did the very British thing of assuming that I'd done something wrong. However, that couldn't have been further from the truth because she immediately asked me if they could extend my temporary contract as she was so impressed with my work! She said she'd give me time to think about it, and half a second later I replied YES! Never in a million years did I think I could begin a brand new career aged 54, and yet here I am, doing just that!

Oh my word, I simply didn't see that coming. I knew that departmental contracts were currently being discussed but there was no way I was even thinking I'd be invited to stay. Of course, this happy development means that I've had to make some very big decisions, and I'll now be leaving the familiarity of the self-employed position I've held for the past eight years so that I can fully focus on my new and exciting future. Burning bridges can be extremely scary, however, you simply can't move forwards if you anchor yourself to the past. At times like this you just have to take a giant leap of faith, and trust that the universe will catch you...


Sunday, 13 November 2016

Armistice Day...


I've never been in a position before when I've been able to stand alongside colleagues in and act of remembrance on 11th November at 11am before, so this Friday was an opportunity to achieve another first. 

A small shelter in a nearby square had been made into a temporary place of worship and everyone was given a leaflet with an order of service on. Not only were the traditional red poppies available, but also white 'peace' poppies. I'm not remotely religious, but it felt very appropriate to be present with the people I spend most of my time with during the fifteen minute service.

Thoughts obviously turned to those who bravely fought for our freedom during the two minutes of quiet contemplation, and that was a very powerful experience for me. Afterwards, staff were encouraged to attach a poppy or a small wooden cross to a net which had been strung across back of the shelter; a simple but poignant gesture... "Lest we forget". 

Saturday, 22 October 2016

And Relaxxxxxxxxxxxxx...

I've had neck and back pain for years, but in recent weeks I'd noticed that my neck was getting much worse; possibly not helped by the increased hours I'm now doing sitting at dual computer screens in my new job; so I decided to treat myself to a lovely long massage by a fully qualified therapist in town.

I arrived at the scheduled appointment time to meet my masseur, the lovely Lucy, who showed me to a gorgeous therapy room with cream shag-pile carpet and enormous fluffy, purple towels, where I was to be pampered for the next ninety minutes while listening to ambient music in a relaxing environment. After a brief discussion regarding my medical history it was time to strip off and get smothered in scented oils by a woman I'd only just met - how fabulously bohemian! That talented lady worked miracles, as one by one my aches all vanished and my pain just melted away. However, all too soon my session was over, but only temporarily as I'm now earning enough to be able to regularly afford a few of life's little luxuries.

Due to the fact my body felt like jelly I opted to take the bus back home rather than walk, which meant I was able to enjoy the after-effects of my wonderful loose muscles in the comfort of my own home just 15 minutes after leaving the room. Who said money can't buy happiness? For a relatively small portion of your salary you can purchase more pain relief than a small pharmacy could offer, and as an added bonus you get silky smooth skin that smells divine and the same sense of euphoria you get from chocolate, but without the calories. Result!

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Team Breakfast...


You know that you've landed well and truly on your feet when your manager arranges for everyone to enjoy a leisurely 'team breakfast' to thank us for simply doing our jobs. This morning, my colleagues and I were taken down to the canteen and treated to a full English, or whatever else we happened to fancy, and large coffees. I don't eat meat or eggs so chose veggie sausage, hash brown, mushrooms, baked beans and toast, and I have to say it was very welcome indeed!

Suitably sustained, and finally ready to face the day, we returned to the office to get down to the business of the weekly team meeting; an opportunity for each and every one of us to update our co-workers on what we've been doing, what still needs to be completed and any issues or deadlines which need to be discussed. By the time we were all done and dusted it was almost lunchtime, although to be honest I wasn't particularly hungry (can't imagine why...)

Sometimes our jobs can be challenging, and we can begin to feel under-valued, but it's small gestures like this that can make a huge difference to the working environment, and I applaud any bosses out there who show genuine appreciation to their staff.  Sometimes the little things really do mean a lot.


Monday, 3 October 2016

I'm Going to Need a Considerably Bigger Suitcase...


Woo hoo! Another Canarian adventure all booked up and I can't wait. The Moorish-styled complex is nestled in between volcanic coves right next to the sea, and with a choice of five swimming pools, free wifi throughout, seven restaurants plus bars, professional shows every evening and a massive tropical garden to enjoy I certainly won't be bored during my all-inclusive luxury getaway. 

Now that I'm earning a decent wage, and getting holiday pay, I can finally afford to splash out and treat myself to something fabulous every now and again; and what could be more fabulous than two whole weeks of sun, sea and sangria? Ah, I can picture it now... palm trees, sandy beaches and, of course, all those lovely Spanish waiters. It just goes to show that if you're prepared to work that little bit harder, you can play for a whole lot longer. Disfrutando la vida!

Friday, 30 September 2016

Absolutely Fabulous...


When I was invited to a three-course meal with 'entertainment' I wasn't entirely sure what to expect, especially as the theme was the popular TV show Absolutely Fabulous, however, I'd been working pretty much non stop for the last two months and so an opportunity to have an evening out with close friends was very much overdue. 

We arrived at the hotel early so sat and chatted with a few drinks to start off before being shown into the small dining area. Service was slow, and the food had issues, but the three actresses taking on the roles of the main characters were quite funny as they dashed in and out during the evening. It was certainly 'different' that's for sure!

It was great to spend time with my friends, and even though the meal could've been better it was really good to chill out and have a laugh with my mates for once. Even when things don't go entirely according to plan, focus on the positives and just enjoy yourself - life's too short to worry about walnuts.


Friday, 16 September 2016

Holiday Pay...


This week I booked my annual leave online and today I received an email to say that my manager has approved it! Now, anyone who's been employed for years probably won't understand what all the fuss is about, but for those of us who are usually self-employed, the thought of being paid your full salary while roasting yourself on a beach thousands of miles away from the office is almost too good to be true.

I've now been trawling through holiday websites and currently have my eye on a fabulous, all-inclusive fortnight in The Canaries; fourteen days and nights of sun, sea and sangria while still receiving a wage. For the first time in my life I'm actually going to be paid to spend half a month getting drunk, ogling Spanish lifeguards and generally having an enormous amount of fun. It really does appear that good things come to those who wait, so hang on in there because you never know what exciting new experiences might be just around the corner.

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Thank You Ernie...


If you've spent the past decade saving your spare pennies, birthday money and Christmas cash, the odds are that sooner or later your efforts will start paying dividends. When this happens you realise that all of those bottles of booze and all of that greasy junk food you denied yourself will have all been totally worthwhile as not only will your health have benefited, your money remains a hundred percent safe and you'll be rewarded with some extra cash every now and again simply for being frugal.

I'm quite happy to admit that I often buy cheap clothes from Ebay or to eat Tesco Value meals; in fact, it's helped me to become more creative and I've certainly never suffered because of it. Although there's never any guarantee of a win in the monthly Premium Bonds draw, by the law of averages, every so often you'll be treated to a little windfall, which is always a nice surprise, and with interest rates from banks at an all-time low it's actually quite a good return on your investment. You've gotta be in it to win it!