Life Last Week #4

Last week, thankfully, was somewhat quieter and calmer than the previous one, with nothing much very exciting to report at all.

But I do like weeks like that – it’s nice to be able to get little jobs done around the house that have been hanging about in the background, vaguely irritating me, for ages.  And to catch up a little bit with the Sky Plus.  To have some lazy evenings with a hot bath and a face mask, and paint my nails.  To spend a whole morning filming videos for my You Tube channel.  And just not to be rushing around like a headless chicken!

I have got one vaguely amusing story to tell you.  Friday morning, Will had an appointment at the Dr’s for an ECG at 8.45 am, and when we turned up, they had no record of an appointment that morning, and in fact their computer showed that the appointment had been the previous morning at 8.45 which, obviously, we’d missed.  I was really quite irritated, swore they were completely wrong and blamed the woman I’d spoken to on the phone, who’d been making two separate appointments for Will, one for a follow-up to the ECG, and who had got completely confused with dates and times and got us both tied up in knots trying to sort it out.  I heaved several large sighs, rolled my eyes a lot and was generally quite abrupt and made it very clear I wasn’t impressed.

Then I got home, and discovered that the appointment WAS in my diary for the previous day, not the Friday!  Large slice of humble pie for me, then.  I did phone the surgery, speak to the woman I’d dealt with, admit my mistake and apologise profusely.  But I felt quite embarrassed about the whole thing for the rest of the day!

The weekend was fairly quiet – Will went to stay with his cousins at MIL’s, which was nice for him, and we had friends over for a very raucous and entertaining evening on Saturday.  Other than that, we were quite lazy.

Here are a few pics from my week.

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Reg is very keen on his new cat bed, surprisingly.  Knowing how contrary my cats usually are, I fully expected him to take one look at it and refuse to go anywhere near it!

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This month’s Glossybox was a good one – lovely selection of products and a super-pretty box, too.

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Thursday became the new Friday, as I celebrated having booked next summer’s holiday with a nice glass of pinot grigio.

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My flavoured coffee habit reached new heights of ridiculous.

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Ashley ‘checking the structural integrity of our beams’ at about midnight on Saturday.  It seemed like a good idea at the time!

Journal Jar Q48: Write About Your Favourite Job | Part 2

So here is the second part of my two-part series on my working life. Part 1, if you missed it, is here.

 Business Development Co-ordinator

Another grand title for a not-so-grand job! It was a new business start-up within Plymouth University, government-funded, to support small food producers in the South West.   I had a lovely office with French doors out to a beautiful garden but the main thing I remember about that job is being incredibly lonely, as I was working alone, as my boss was always out and about. It was hellishly quiet and I was bored much of the time. I stayed less than a year.

Recruitment Consultant

Out of the frying pan into the fire – I took this job in Exeter city centre, which was quite a long commute, and horrendously long hours.   I loved the girls I worked with, and many parts of the job I really enjoyed, but I loathed the pressure to sell, and didn’t any have confidence in my sales ability. I had sleepless nights over the cold calling that we had to do.

It all started falling apart fairly rapidly towards the end of my 12 months there – my boss was losing the plot (he was having problems at home and becoming quite volatile in the office); I received a phone call at home at 4 in the morning from the company’s Night Service wanting information which had been faxed to them the day before, which I complained about, but my boss seemed to think a 4 am phone call was perfectly acceptable; and the final straw – my mum phoned me at work (a very rare occurrence), and left a message with my boss for me to call her back, as I was on another call. My boss didn’t give me the message, and my mum eventually phoned again. She had called to tell me my grandmother had died. The boss didn’t even apologise.

I left that day and never went back. My letter of resignation crossed in the post with their’s, firing me.

PA to Chairman

After licking my wounds for a month or so, I took this job, very close to home, with good hours and nice people, organizing the life and work of a very busy, and very nice, chap. It was just what I needed at the time – really interesting work, reasonable hours, good money and plenty of autonomy as far as organizing my own workload was concerned.  I stayed for a very happy two years until I went on maternity leave. I would happily have gone back, but they needed me to work full-time and I only wanted part-time after having Will.

Secretary

I started this job when Will was five months old, working in the Property Department at the local Council, two days a week on a job-share. Again, it was just what I needed at the time – getting out of the house a couple of days a week, work not too arduous, wearing something smart and not covered in baby sick, and mixing with other adults rather than just a baby!

I left after four years, when Will started school, as I wanted to be able to pick him up at the end of the school day, and I didn’t finish work until 5.30 pm, so the hours didn’t really work for me any more.

Clerk to Governors

I’ve been doing this job for the best part of 10 years now. It’s VERY part-time, mostly working from home, for a local Primary School. I started at one school, then took on another school and worked for both for some time, then dropped the first one, and am still at the second one.

I like the work, it’s really quite easy money, and the way it fits into my life suits me perfectly.

eBay Queen

My other current ‘job’, which I love 98% of the time and loathe the other 2%! I feel as though it’s my perfect niche, and I really wouldn’t change my working life now for anything. It suits me really well.

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my career history as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it – it’s brought back all sorts of memories. I’d love to know what some of my readers have done work-wise – what was your favourite/worst job?

Bookmarks, TV In The Bedroom, Reading & Judgment

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Well, there’s a catchy post title. Not.

Y’know how, when you come across something interesting on t’internet, and you bookmark it to come back to it at a later date? That.

Last month I bookmarked this post over at Fat Mum Slim, because she asked for book recommendations and, like the proverbial moth to a flame when it comes to anything to do with books, I thought I’d revisit it and look at the comments to see if there were any recommendations that appealed to me.

And I’ve just got around to doing so. I’ll be honest – most of the book recommendations were either ones I’ve read already or ones that aren’t really my cup of tea. But what REALLY struck me about the comments was how people felt the need to justify themselves for having a TV in their bedroom!

I was really surprised in this day and age that there seems to be a bit of a guilty feeling about it and, apparently, a deep-seated NEED to make an excuse. Weird – particularly in this day and age.

I have a TV in my bedroom. Have done for years.  It works for us as a family on several levels:

  • Weekdays, I get up as soon as the alarm goes off, and get straight to my desk. The husband likes to sit in bed with a coffee for half an hour and watch the news before he gets up.
  • Evenings, I tend to retire to my bedroom early (oh Lord, I sound like a Downton Abbey character!), and sometimes I’ll watch TV or a DVD while I potter about taking off my make-up, doing a face mask or whatever. William sometimes comes and joins me on the bed for a chat and ends up watching something with me.
  • Weekend afternoons, Ashley and Will often like to watch the Grand Prix or some dreadful old film (westerns or sci fi = dreadful in my world!) in the lounge, so I will retire to the bedroom to watch something more suited to my taste.

Having a TV in the bedroom doesn’t stop me reading. Last year I read around 100 books, this year it’ll be less, but I’m already up to 65 ish. I love reading. I love TV.

Some people don’t enjoy reading. Some people don’t enjoy TV. One is not better or more worthy or more valid than the other.

But clearly, judging from the comment thread on FatMumSlim’s post, there is some sort of perception reading is a more ‘acceptable’ pastime than watching TV.

A healthy mix is good, I think.

Over to you, readers. What do you think? TV in the bedroom or not? Are you a reader AND a TV watcher, or do you come down on one side or the other? If you don’t read books, do you feel the need to justify yourself? Do let me know.

 

 

 

Recipe: Homemade ‘Heinz’ Tomato Soup

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This is one of my favourite soups to make and eat – healthy AND delicious – win!  I made a big pot of it last week and had it for lunch every day – really warming now the weather is feeling a bit colder.  It is a bit of faff with making the roux, but so worth the extra effort.  I usually cook this soup in the slow cooker, but it can be done just as easily on the hob.

Ingredients

  • 2 sticks celery
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 onion
  • 1 tbsp oil (I used rapeseed)
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes (14oz approx)
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 handfuls of chopped basil
  • 1 parmesan crust (optional)
  • Chicken stock
  • Milk
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 25g butter

Method

1.   Finely dice the celery, carrots and onion and cook over a medium heat in the oil until slightly softened and turning golden, then add to slow cooker.

2.   Add tin of tomatoes and juice, herbs and bay leaf, and cheese rind (if using).  Add chicken stock.  I know I haven’t given an amount, I always do mine by eye/feel, so just use however much you feel is appropriate.

3.   Cook on low for six hours or high for four hours, then blend with a hand blender.

4.   Make a roux by melting the butter in a small pan, then add flour and mix well.  Add milk gradually (about half a pint – again, I didn’t measure – sorry) stirring all the time, to make a white sauce.  When thickened, add to soup and mix well.  Season to taste.

You can add a little parmesan to the mixture and stir in at this point, or serve it with the parmesan grated on top, which is my preference.

Eat and enjoy!

 

Life Last Week #3

Phew! Last week was one of those weeks when I felt as if my feet didn’t touch the ground! It really was a busy one. I guess that’s the downside of having only just over a fortnight between holidays.

Monday started early with a blood test for Will at the doctor’s at 8am – he’s had a few dizzy/faint episodes at karate, and they are doing some investigations into possible causes for this. From there, it was straight to school, then to Tesco for my weekly food shop, followed by a quick visit to my friend Becky with a bouquet of flowers to thank her for picking Will up from school for me while we were in Greece. Back home, laundry, work, ironing, housework, back to school for pick-up, then straight to work for a meeting, and not home till after 7.30 pm.

The rest of the week continued in much the same vein.

I did fit in a mid-week coffee with a friend who I hadn’t seen for ages. She’s a regular seller on eBay as well, and it’s always nice to chat over eBay’s ever-changing policies and compare notes on unreasonable buyers!

MIL came over for dinner on Thursday. As ever, imbibing the best part of a bottle of Pinot Grigio helped numb the pain, and she was actually on good form, and very appreciative of my cooking, which was nice.

I also caught up with my best friend for lunch on Friday – this was a rare treat, as she works full-time now, so a weekday lunch out is almost unheard of, but we really enjoyed it, and it was lovely to hear the happy news that her younger daughter has just got engaged. I do love a wedding!

Friday evening we made last minute plans for a family meal out at our local Wetherspoons (walking distance now – oh yeah!) with school parent friends and their two boys. This is something we do quite regularly over the winter months, a nice way to end the work/school week, and as usual, a good evening was had by all. We ended up all walking back to our house and having more drinks and cheese and biscuits. A nice end to a busy week.

I was fully expecting to wake up with something of a thick head on Saturday morning, so it was an unexpected bonus not to do so! I popped into town to do a few errands, and spent the rest of the day at home being quite lazy.

I was too lazy to go to the car boot sale on Sunday morning (the cold is putting me off) and instead we stayed in bed and watched an old Elizabeth Taylor/Mickey Rooney film – National Velvet – and enjoyed every minute. It’s rare for me to have a Sunday lie-in, so I really appreciated it.

Around lunchtime on Sunday, a team of men organised by Jason, our fab gardener, arrived to move our new hot tub from the top of the driveway to the bottom of the garden, up our steeply sloping garden and onto the patio.  It was quite a hairy hour or so, but thankfully, the hot tub finally got to where it should be, and nobody ended up with squashed fingers, hands or toes, which I was relieved about!

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We had a hot tub at our previous house, and Ashley and Will in particular have really missed having one since we moved in January, so we decided to get another one.  It’s now in situ in its final resting place, having sat on the drive for a week or so, and will probably be filled and commissioned on our return from holiday.

This weekend is the first time it’s really felt chilly, but we haven’t yet succumbed to the central heating. I’m really hoping to avoid putting it on at all before we go to Dubai (22nd Oct), as that’ll mean we don’t have to put it on until after the beginning of November – we get back on the 3rd.   Which will save us a fortune – this is not a cheap house to heat!

Well, that’s another week over.  Don’t they fly by fast?

 

 

Journal Jar Q48: Write About Your Favourite Job | Part 1

One of the problems with writing a blog for as long as I have done is that when it comes to writing about my past, I’ve covered most of it already!  So instead of writing about my favourite job (five years on cruise ships, which I’ve written about many times in the past on here), I thought I’d do a quick whistlestop tour of my working life since – gulp! – 1988, when I left university.

I’m going to split it into two posts, as it will be ridiculously long if I do it all in one.

Organising A Golf Tournament

My very first job was a three month temp position in a four star hotel near Bournemouth, organizing a quite prestigious celebrity/pro/am golf tournament. Golf is certainly not something I have even a passing interest in, and the job was pretty dull office work in the main, but it was quite interesting meeting the celebs. The pro golfers were mostly charming; Bruce Forsyth was delightful; Ronnie Corbett was late and not very friendly; Max Bygraves (who?) was deeply offended when I asked him his name, as I had no clue who he was. I still don’t, really.

Conference Co-Ordinator

I then moved to Devon, where I worked for a year at the (then) five star and quite well known Imperial Hotel in Torquay, as Conference Co-ordinator. I stayed there for a year, had a great time, made some fab friends, and even quite enjoyed the work – which was busy and full-on all the time.  A big learning curve, but fun.  One of my greatest memories from my time at The Imperial was that we had an old-fashioned telephone switchboard there, that looked like a bit like this:

telephone exchange

 

I learnt to use it, and absolutely loved covering the switchboard operator’s breaks, specially when it was busy. Looking back now, it seems crazy that such a thing was still in use in the late 80s. We also had a telex machine there, which I used quite a lot. Whatever happened to telexes?

 Assistant Purser

From 1989 until 1994, I worked for P&O Cruises as an Assistant Purser and travelled the world on board ships. I won’t write any more about that now, as I’ve written about it ad infinitum on the blog, but I will share a pic of me in my uniform instead.

uniform

Sales & Marketing Secretary

After five years at sea, the time came to return to dry land and I moved back to Bournemouth and took a job at a multinational technology company. My job there involved organizing lots of international travel for the execs, and was also my first experience of email. It was a very social place to work, and I met some great people. There was always something going on, and plenty of fun nights out. I only stayed for eight months, for two reasons: a) it was a maternity leave contract, and although they offered me a full-time post at the end of it, b) I’d got engaged to Ashley whilst I was there, and was moving down to Devon to live with him.

 

To be continued …