Former NHS Nurse and manager now contemplating the NHS from outside

Archive for the ‘Homelife’ Category

The first week

So a week has passed and to be honest it has felt like I am on holiday from work. In fact, I have not had a full week off since last autumn, as I have tended to take a couple of days here and there to make long weekends etc. I was surprised by just how tired I was, but not having had a break and having been involved in a very protracted and stressful HR process it is not surprising.

Of course, I have not spent the week being idle, that really isn’t me. Nor have I yet worked out how to sleep in past about 7am, perhaps that is healthy since I am not finished with work by any stretch of the imagination. The first thing I did last Friday was to buy myself a new laptop; a MacBook to be exact. I am now converted to Apple, last year I got my first iPhone, for Christmas an iPad and now I have the full set. I had to get some kind of computer since my previous laptop died a few weeks ago and I had been using my work one. That and my Blackberry were returned last week. So now I have just one phone rather than two, and I am getting myself set up for some home working.

I have watched the news coverage of the NHS changes with a kind of detached interest this week. All of a sudden the news channels and papers other than the Guardian work up to some of the issues of the new NHS. Things like the conflict of interest that GPs have faced for years, but are only just being challenged about. Like the fact that many of them have shares in the companies that they commission to provide services. Then there is the role of the NHS Commissioning Board, now renamed NHS England (we did laugh last week when colleagues who have jobs with them discovered the rebrand). How will this highly centralised organisation carry out the job of performance managing the CCGs? Nothing has yet been said about the Commissioning Support Units and the duplication that their existence will surely bring about. Or about the fact that most of the hated managers still retain places within the CCGs, often they are the accountable officer rather than a GP. No one has yet asked, who is really in charge here? Does the balance of power really lie with clinicians or does it lie in Leeds and their various Local Teams. All of these questions will no doubt be asked in the future.

For me, well my week has been filled, as promised with some reading, some retail therapy, some resting up and pottering around the house. I have made a start on sorting the spare room, but need to replace the chest of drawers in there with a desk. I need to buy a printer as my lovely son has claimed the family one and it currently resides in a house in a university town. I have seen my financial advisor about investing my lump sum, but NHS pension hasn’t produced any actual money yet so there isn’t actually anything to invest. The PCT was late in offering me this option and therefore the forms were completed at the last-minute. The lady in payroll who deals with pensions told me on Tuesday that they had been very tricky to work with. I have updated my CV with the final bits that say that my job ended in March 2013 and I have updated my Linkedin profile with the same. I have arranged my first bit of paid work for next month and am expecting to hear about some more work in the next week or so. I need to complete an application to NHS professionals for another piece of work and I need to send my CV out to a few people. Work then for next week!

So at the end of week one, I feel a little more alert, a little more rested and a little more ready to face whatever is ahead.

Seeking closure and embracing new opportunities

It is only two days since I ceased to be employed in the NHS and I know that it will take a little longer for my mind to defog and my brain to clear. The main thing for me right now is the amazing tiredness I feel. On one hand I want to do so much with my free time, I want to sort out the spare room and make it in to some kind of office space – I have brought home a load of personal and also kind of work related stuff that I think will be useful in the future. I also want to have a bit of a spring clean around the house, I want to declutter and I also want to do some fun things. I want to organise trips away. I am also mindful that I will need to work at some point soon, so I have some work to do in following up contacts and preparing for work.

Usually, I find myself rushing around, doing a bit of this and a bit of that. Rushing to complete things over the weekend or during a few days off. I am aware that this is different. I no longer need to rush anywhere, to complete everything in double quick time. I am also aware that I do feel weary as I said above.

I need to spend some time right now reflecting on what has happened, thinking about the process that I was involved in. A process that started with me feeling incredibly hopeful that I would get a job and a good one at that and ended with me being made redundant. I hope to use this blog to help in that process. I have been a poor blogger for a couple of years now. Firstly it was because I was unhappy in my commissioning job, then too busy in my new cancer network job and then because I feared saying something which could ultimately get me into trouble with my employers.

This morning, there is lots on the news programmes about the various changes that have come into force in both the NHS, in welfare and in local government. I feel I should be able to say some profound things about all of this, today, indeed right now. But actually I don’t think I can.

I am going to take a few days. I am going to read a book or two. I am going to get back to reading  some of the blogs around and about, and update my blogroll here. I am going to start sorting out the spare room and I am going to look around the shops. After all a girl is entitled to retail therapy when she has been made redundant!

Then in a few days, as my brain and my mind begins to clear I will write about the past and about the future. I will talk generally about my take on how things are in the NHS and also about my role in it (if I am to have one). I am not meant to work for the NHS for a month. I don’t think that will be a problem for me.

My first day has started a bit strangely. I was happily blogging, sitting up in bed when the phone rang. My son who went off to visit and stay with friends yesterday called to say he was on the train and could I pick him up shortly. I found myself scraping the ice off my car at 7.30am; not the way I expected to start my first day of freedom!

Kindle or actual book?

For Christmas I received a Kindle from hubby, along with a lovely leather cover with light for reading from my son. when these electronic book devices started appearing a couple of years ago I insisted that I would never convert. I love the feel of a real book, I love turning the pages, holding it and also love trawling bookshops for something new.

When I go on holiday though, I have been known to take half a dozen books with me. There have been occasions that I have forgone articles of clothing or shoes for books. I have packed them into my hand luggage and bought more at the airport. This has to be madness if there is an alternative.

When I went on a coach trip to Germany recently I looked over the kindle of my friend Sue and decided that this was a good idea for ease when travelling and subsequently made my request. I have to admit that I quite like my new toy, even if I do feel a bit guilty every time I turn it on that I might be putting printing companies out of work. I love the way you can download a sample of a book and I like the way you can turn the page forwards and backwards so easily. I also like the fact that you can enlarge the text (I know I need to get the optician to review my contacts but until then..)  I am less keen  that I never know quite what page I am on, instead I know what percentage of the book I have read. But I am willing to give the whole thing a go. Today I have downloaded a couple of travel guides for my upcoming trip to the States. I think this is going to be great for checking out things to do and places to go on the go! We shall see.

Its been a long time

Over two months to be precise. Since my last post in April the NHS has paused so that the NHS Health and Social Care Bill can be properly consulted on. Sadly it looks like there will be little significant difference to the way in which health services will be commissioned and provided. Andrew Lansley’s legislation continues its slow and painful process through Parliament and PCT employees not already redundant or moved await their fate. I on the other hand have taken a small step towards safety. In a bit over a month I will start a secondment with our local Cancer Network, I am taking a job with responsibility for improving the quality of cancer services. This is a pretty tall order, but will be an interesting challenge. I hope that this secondment will lead to something permanent once the future of Clinical Networks are secured.

In other news my son will soon be off to California to study at Pitzer College for a year. He is excited and I am excited for him.  It will feel pretty strange though to have him so far away.

The NHS pause, a general feeling of malaise with my current job and some family health troubles have prevented me from feeling inclined to post to my blog. Guess what though? I am now feeling more inclined to write more and I’ll be back soon!


Apologies for my absense. Several times over the last few weeks I have thought of a blog post that I might want to write and post, but something (not entirely sure what) has stopped me. The question is – am I just lazy? Is it just that the obsession to score over 100,000 on bejewled blitz on facebook was too great? Or am I just an ordinary person who from time to times loves blogging then needs an interlude of several weeks for a break from it all?

This month has been a big one for our small family. My teenage son, Matt has gone off to University and I have discovered just what empty nest syndrome feels like. In some ways, and to an outsider it feels much the same as before, after all it is not that he didn’t go out a lot (that boy has a social life to be proud of) but it is very odd that a house where the teenager is just out for the evening and one where he is currently living elsewhere feels different. Hubby and I are enjoying food that is slightly different – teen son isn’t fond of fish and I have cooked more fish than for years. But actually I like him here and I like cooking food that he likes. Ok so his now tidy and clean room has remained so for over a week, but I like to hear myself grumble about the state of it and he say that it is fine!

Yesterday we vMum's 70th 047isited to take the printer that he said he didn’t need, but now does. His room had been hastily tidied and apparently he had shown a hoover to the floor! He has new posters on the wall and his dirty clothes were in the linen basket thing I bought him rather than on the floor. He is managing well, cooking for himself and learning how to budget. He is enjoying living with other teenagers in the flat they share on campus, he continues his good and varied social life and claims not to have been too drunk. His schedule is not all that busy, but he says he has lots to do; indeed he has a to list on the wall – very organised. However on Saturday he popped up on facebook and asked me why I wasn’t at work. It is Saturday I said. “oh Yeah!” says he!!

So my plans for the coming few weeks – On Wednesday we are off on holiday for a week – to France! Yipee. On my return I plan to change the name of this blog – to something more about life in general when you are middle aged (but feel pretty young inside) and need to get yourself into some kind of gear for the coming weeks, months and years. Watch this space, I will return!!

Things to do when it is snowing in the UK

The UK and particularly the southern part of the country is not really used to this kind of weather incident. I kid you not, that is exactly what I heard a weather operative (forcaster / presenter) call the snow this morning. Meanwhile a BBC journalist was seen standing outside a saltmine in Northern Ireland and a Sky reporter was seen outside of one some where in England. The weather has led to some bizarre reporting. I have decided to wait for a lull in the blizzard before I set off for work, plus I have cheekily decided to take lunch at 9.30 and get an early hair cut. Therefore you are getting a post of things you can do when it snows here in the UK. This will be followed by some things you can’t do.

My favorite thing to do today would be to sit on your sofa drinking coffee and surfing the net. The place to go to get a range of great nursing stories is Change of Shift Take my advice and get over to Keith’s place Digital Doorway. You could do worse!

Keeping to the theme of sitting down, you could watch TV. As I speak a range of great news programmes are available and it is fun to see the presenters standing in the snow, looking freezing cold, telling us what we can see out of the window – it is snowing

If you would rather immerse yourself in another world then you can do worse than to read a book. I am reading a great book by Barbara Wood at the moment. The Dreaming is set in Victorian Austrailia when much of the country was a mystereous place to the white man.

You could put on your hat, scarf and coat and go off for a walk, you can also throw snowballs and you can do sledging. Be careful though, I heard on the radio that there are gangs of youths in the streets of the uk throwing snow balls in an unpleasant way. This could lead to an arrest. You also need to take care when sledging as this week sadly a young girl was killed following this persuit.

Make soup or a stew or something. This is the kind of pursuit our grandparents would have favoured, though of course all winters were like this one and people had less heating in their houses then. My hubby was very impressed yesterday that I gave him stew with dumplings, and therefore he is obviously easily pleased.

What you mustn’t do if you listen to the doom mungerers is to leave your house by car – conditions are terrible, and indeed they are since no one has been gritting our roads round here. Apparently they may have run low. Someone from the council needs to visit a salt mine! What you also can’t really do is walk on the pavements. Snow, thaw, ice, snow, thaw, ice etc has caused everyone to fear walking the streets. Also you can’t do much shopping in the town here. Yesterday I found that a number of town centre shops were closed all day. Lack of staff to work there? Later this month retail sales will have fallen and everyone will blame the snow. Perhaps if staff went to work they might sell something? Who knows. Lastly if you are a school student or a teacher, don’t bother with school as it will be closed. My son has now missed 4 days of schooling in what is the most important final year. Even he would like to attend school now please!

So there you have it, an assessment by Julie of what to do and what to do when snow falls in the UK!

Normal life is suspended

snowmenThe last time I personally saw as much snow as this I was within a hospital building, confined as I awaited the birth of my son. 18 years ago I didn’t have to negotiate ungritted roads and pavements. I didn’t need to spend hours in traffic in my car and I didn’t worry about school closures. I don’t know if in 1991 people gave up on work before they tried to go in, I don’t know if trains and buses were cancelled, I don’t know if health and safety issues kept schools closed.

In my particular town we have had about 3 days or nights of snow. On sunday several inches fell and it was very cold. The UK is apparantly not set up for this kind of thing. We only get snow round here on one or two days each year, and even then if often doesn’t last till lunch time; much to the disappointment of children and their sledges. This year the whole winter has been more severe, therfore if we were ever going to get significant snow it was going to be this winter. On Tuesday when I went to work the main roads were fine. The smaller roads in a town centre area where my place of work is were pretty much an ice rink, people were skidding into the kerb of a large roundabout. Having parked my car in the car park (I was amazed later to find it was actually between two white lines) I then had to negotiate some seriously treaturous pavements. The only place gritting had taken place was by a department store and my office building next door (oh yes folks I work right next to a John Lewis, and that is a story to tell one day!)

Schools were cancelled for 2 days and again today. My husband has so far worked a one day week. But children have had a good time, learning in a different way. Parents have taken days off work and actually spent time with them playing in that snow. On Tuesday morning as I drove slowly along my road a car passed in the opposite direction and the driver actually smiled at me. People walking along the pavements appear to be concerned about each other.

So my assessment is that yes it is mad that we can’t cope with a bit of snow. But if it means that people are nicer to each other for a day or two, if parents spend quality time actually playing with their children then I can’t see how the economy will be poorer in real terms.

Its all pretty desperate

recession_cardsIn our house we are no stranger to the effect of recession. Hubby works in manufacturing industry and has been made redundant no less than 4 times, twice as a direct result of recession (1979 and 1991). It is no joke when you have a small baby and are still on maternity leave to wonder just how you will last longer than a month. How you will pay the mortgage and the bills and how you will buy food. Luckily for us, every time it has happened something has turned up and unemployment has not been for long. Luckily for us too, my job even taking account of recent uncertainties is pretty safe. Indeed it is at times like this that applications for nursing, teaching and other public sector careers increases.

I am getting pretty fed up however with the attitude of the media, particularly that on the TV and as I watch it most, the BBC. Tonight in my opinion, amongst what was an ‘I told you so’ mentality of what appeared like glee with a straight face they showed us a 5 months old baby whose whole life has been spent in recession!! I ask you? What is that about?

I am pretty serious about this topic myself. It is truly awful – redundancy, short time, extended leave with or without pay, people unable to get credit, unable to get mortgages. But really for most people is it really all that bad? If you can maintain a roof, if you can buy food to live, if you can heat your house, if you can still drive your car? Then actually isn’t this just the opportunity many of us need. We need to learn that what we earn is what we spend. We need to understand that if our car is older than 3 years old it will not fall apart and blow up. We need to understand that we don’t need to eat out every week. We need to learn that we don’t need a gym to get exercise. We need to know that we can’t have everything we want.

Maybe the recession will be painful (and even if it isn’t the BBC will tell us it is), maybe it will be long (lets hope not) but maybe some of us might just learn more about what is important in life and on the way learn something of the value of money and the danger of credit.

Thanks to Chris for this link

It has been a bit of a week

Yesterday was my brother and his wife’s 16th wedding anniversary. Sadly there were no celebrations, he and his children had spent the night before with us and the marriage is on extremely shaky grounds. Listening to our nearest and dearest pouring out their hearts about such things is difficult and seeing the effect on children is pretty heart wrenching. For them there has been years of arguments, of failing to listen to each other, above all there seems to be a lack of respect. Being in a relationship is tough, it takes work, it takes flexibility and understanding. The trouble is people often don’t realise what they have lost until it is pretty much too late. I really hope they can sort themselves out – for their own sakes and for the sake of the children, but right now the jury is out.

I have been thinking over my non posting weeks about this blog and why it has often been difficult to write even though I am often not short of ideas. I have come to the decision that it is the title of the blog that is wrong. I still work in the NHS, I still believe in the principle of the NHS, but actually my attitude to work has changed. I think I am going to need to change the title and focus of this blog, because work is not something that I want to write about all that much (though sometimes I might). Some changes are afoot – watch this space. Good news though is that I am back to blogging even if I am apparently unworthy due to my carbon footprint (see comment in my previous post). Personally I think that after the year I have had (fighting for the right salary, turned down for two jobs, mum too unwell to come away with me to mention a few things) I am not about to apologise for drinking bacardi in a hot tub that I didn’t heat and that will be heated if I sit in it or not; so there.

Why is the week before you go on holiday so stressful?

That is the question I asked myself as I drove between meetings and wondered when I’d actually get some work done yesterday. I know that my current slightly befuddled state is partly my own fault. After all, there were times in the last few weeks when I chatted with colleagues when I could have done something more important, when I surfed the internet at lunch time or just before going home rather than writing that paper. But actually I think I am slightly suffering from the fact that I am off on holiday when everyone is back in work (hense the high number of meetings) and I must add to that my tiredness, stress at my mum’s recent illness which has led to me having to cancel their part of the holiday.

Yesterday everything culminated in a call at 6pm asking why I had missed my hair appointment! It was in my diary, but I convinced myself that I had put it in the wrong day and hadn’t quite found the time to check. Luckily they were able to rebook me for Friday, but suddenly I thought I might be travelling with my hair looking as much as a sight as I feel the rest of me looks.

Perhaps one or two good things might come out of the holiday just being the two of us. Firstly, and for the first time in many years we will have a holiday where we will not have to consider anyone elses needs. I would rather have my parents around sharing the experience with me but if that can’t happen, then I intend to enjoy myself. This has involved the ordinary kind of car my dad had booked being cancelled, and me booking us a Mustang Convertable for the final leg of our trip when we will be staying in a house overlooking the Ocean at Bodega Bay. I will have my laptop with me and am hoping to get back into posting onto my blog, because I have to face the fact that I have beome one dreadful blogger lately!

One week to go!

In a week’s time I will have finished work (how on earth I am going to actually complete everything necessary by then is anyone’s guess) and we will hopefully be out with the family celebrating hubby’s imminent 50th.

He has made a big deal about this birthday. I am not entirely sure why he is so obsessed with celebrating his 50th in such style, but he is. So next Friday we will be out with 14 others enjoying (I hope) a pleasant Indian meal and just 2 days later we will leave these shores (and teenage son, now 17 and a half) and head off to the USA. Over the last few months I have learned stuff I hadn’t appreciated about the man I married 24 years ago. Mainly that is about the fact that if he could he would pre-arrange every last minute of a holiday like this. Thankfully, he has relied on me for the arrangements and while I am happy to prebook certain Las Vegas events I am certainly not prebooking and arranging the whole trip.

Sadly, it is looking like our holiday companions, my parents will not be joining us. My mum has, it appears had another stroke this week. She is currently in hospital (a saga that gives no credit to the NHS and which I will talk about in my next post) and personally unless she wishes to try out her holiday insurance in the USA I would prefer she didn’t travel. For them though this was a once in a lifetime opportunity to see San Francisco and to experience Vegas. Sadly it seems like it is not to be.

So my excitement at the prospect of our trip is tempered by the reality of the situation my mum is in. She has struggled with the lifestyle changes she needs to make, though at last she now realises that she must give up smoking. While she has no pronounced weakness she doesn have a pronounced facial palsy and some worrying symptoms such as struggling to write her own name and to think of things she feels ought to spring readily to her mind.

The best part about having time off from work

Is going back! Well no not really, but when you book time off, arrange that holiday or in my case a few days away, then you know that the days just before hand and those when you return to work are going to be busy and not a little stressful. This time the two days before involved my mum deciding to let her hypertension get the better of her and end up with double vision and numb fingers. An MRI scan showed a number of small infarcts. It could have been worse, much worse and what is more she could have been in Spain where she was due to go 5 days later. Thankfully, having visited and trusting my instinct that all would be well, we went off for our trip to Barcelona with my brother and sister in law. This involved leaving 17 year old teenage son to his own devices. Glad to say that also appears to have gone reasonably smoothly with no overt signs of damage and no neighbours queuing up to complain. What beer cans there were in the garden had been collected up and carefully tied up in two plastic bags; if they had remembered to put them in the recycling box then I might have been none the wiser. Ok so they shouldn’t have been drinking, but at least they were safely at home and not roaming the streets.

So back home after a wonderful time which involved some culture (though less sightseeing than I would have liked due to a) my brother declaring one day was enough b) the weather was lovely and there were beaches nearby and c) I was pretty weary and enjoyed the chance to relax a little. While away we celebrated our 24th anniversary (no I know I am not old enough but I was a child bride).

Back home we visited the sales, had lunch out with my parents (mum recently released from hospital, and looking better thankfully) and generally caught up on some walks, gardening and general chilling out.

So back to work. That blackberry is wonderful. I knew that I had 98 emails waiting but hadn’t been (very) tempted to look at them. There was a team meeting, a 92 page Darzi review of the NHS (yipee to that) and plenty of other stuff to read and to do. I am not yet enough out of holiday mode to review anything or to have an opinion on whether Darzi is wide of the mark with his suggestions. I am still in semi holiday mode. Tomorrow I have a day out to find out about maternal mental health, a new wonderful project to embark on. So there you have it, post 1 of 31 for July (you have to start off with optimism!

The picture above is of Gaudi’s unfinished Cathedral, an amazing site. I took my own pictures but haven’t up loaded them (laziness you know) mine have cranes and general evidence of building work so not sure if airbrushing has gone on here!

Customer Service

I wrote recently about the issue of dignity and respect in the NHS and how the way we treat our patients may be linked to the general way in which we treat each other and are treated. Over the last week or two a couple of things have increased my view that we have a problem in this country with the way we speak and treat people that ultimately affects people when they come into contact with people in the public sector. We appear not to understand how to do customer service, so much so that even when we are customers in the purest sense some of those who should be part of the service don’t seem to recognise or care about that fact.

One day last week I arrived home to discover the telephone was not working, you could not ring in or out though the internet was working (strange I guess). I got onto my work provided mobile phone (having got the teenager of the house to find the phone number of the telephone company on the internet as I am quite useless at keeping numbers like that handy). The automated voice asked me to key in my phone number, then said it didn’t recognise it. I then had to wait for a very abrupt and verging on rude person. The company first asked me to clear various security hurdles before I could report my phone missing (luckily I do know my own address, post code and the bank my account is paid through) I was then placed on hold. 20 minutes later I hung up, I could hear various sounds going on in the call centre, but no one ever came back to me. The phone was however fixed at the end of all this, so I can hardly complain, well yes actually I was pretty miffed and used my hubby as a means of getting this off my chest.

Annoyance number two is about banks. I have an account purely used to service a loan. This loan is meant to be paid on 1st of the month. I make sure there is money in there and it is paid. This month I only remembered to do an electronic transfer of the missing £15 needed to pay the loan on the first. Sadly the bank had taken the loan payment on 30 April, and are now charging me £15 for going £15 over drawn (nice work if you could only get it!) I am still to go and have the argument with a human at the local branch but now I am calmer about that one it might go better. I was amused to receive the following as an email at the weekend, apparently recently published in the national press:

A 98 year old woman in the UK wrote this to her bank. The bank manager thought it amusing enough to have it published in the Times

Dear Sir,

I am writing to thank you for bouncing my cheque with which I endeavoured to pay my plumber last month. By my calculations, three nanoseconds must have elapsed between his presenting the cheque and the arrival in my account of the funds needed to honour it. I refer, of course, to the automatic monthly deposit of my Pension, an arrangement, which, I admit, has been in place for only thirty eight years. You are to be commended for seizing that brief window of opportunity, and also for debiting my account £30 by way of penalty for the inconvenience caused to your bank.

My thankfulness springs from the manner in which this incident has caused me to rethink my errant financial ways. I noticed that whereas I personally attend to your telephone calls and letters, when I try to contact you, I am confronted by the impersonal, overcharging, pre-recorded, faceless entity which your bank has become. From now on, I, like you, choose only to deal with a flesh-and-blood person.

My mortgage and loan payments will therefore and hereafter no longer be automatic, but will arrive at your bank by cheque, addressed personally and confidentially to an employee at your bank whom you must nominate. Be aware that it is an offence under the Postal Act for any other person to open such an envelope. Please find attached an Application Contact Status which I require your chosen employee to complete. I am sorry it runs to eight pages, but in order that I know as much about him or her as your bank knows about me, there is no alternative. Please note that all copies of his or her medical history must be countersigned by a Solicitor, and the mandatory details of his/her financial situation (income, debts, assets and liabilities) must be accompanied by documented proof.

In due course, I will issue your employee with PIN number which he/she must quote in dealings with me. I regret that it cannot be shorter than 28 digits but, again, I have modelled it on the number of button presses required of me to access my account balance on your phone bank service. As they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Let me level the playing field even further. When you call me, press buttons as follows:

1 To make an appointment to see me.
2 To query a missing payment.
3 To transfer the call to my living room in case I am there.
4 To transfer the call to my bedroom in case I am sleeping.
5 To transfer the call to my toilet in case I am attending to nature.
6 to transfer the call to my mobile phone if I am not at home.
7 To leave a message on my computer (a password to access my computer is required. A password will be communicated to you at a later date to the Authorised Contact)
8 To return to the main menu and to listen to options 1 through to 8.
9 To make a general complaint or inquiry, the contact will then be put on hold, pending the attention of my automated answering service. While this may, on occasion, involve a lengthy wait, uplifting music will play for the duration of the call.

Regrettably, but again following your example, I must also levy an establishment fee to cover the setting up of this new arrangement.

May I wish you a happy, if ever so slightly less prosperous, New Year.

Your Humble Client

Rounding up the week

For a short working week (4 days one of which has only just started) I am feeling incredibly weary. Summer seems to have arrived early, which is no bad thing since we have suffered a miserable end to winter and most of spring; rain, hail, wind often all in one day. What is more my week has felt a little odd. From the person who found my blog through searching to purchase the ability to inseminate their chihuahua (you know that kind of small dog) which, while I know a variety of things, that is not one of them. Then there was a very strange dream which involved me flying off somewhere not too far away (it was a short flight) and then finding myself in the kitchen of Kim from Emergiblog where she was holding fort to a number of men eating breakfast (sorry kim, but that is the only bit I remember!)

Work is incredibly busy, as a number of projects I have been working on come to fruition. I have discovered the power of the director – I might email and phone someone till I am blue in the face but I will still get no where, while the director sends one email and gets a response so immediate it makes me want to cry! I know lots of responsibility comes with that kind of job, but oh to have that kind of power! My other observation is that a blackberry is incredibly useful if you are out and about a lot as I have been and will be today, but it causes your inbox to be a complete mess when you actually do get to the office. I definitely need to spend some time sorting it out since I can no longer find anything and I like to pride myself with keeping it spick, span and pretty lean.

So there we are as another weekend approaches, the questions to be posed are: will I be able to get my hubby into the garden to do some work there? Plus, will we go to the Apple shop to buy that new ipod touch I covert? Work is important, but I am happy to leave it at the office when it comes to 5pm ish this evening!

Arranging that holiday

As little as 10 years ago who would ever have considered arranging their holiday / vacation themselves? At the very least we started off with a brochure, usually obtained from a travel agent (or occasionally requested by phone or a little form cut out of a newspaper). Then we visited our travel agent and spent an hour or two there while they checked availability, got us to decide on flights etc. and tried to sell us their own travel insurance. I do remember booking a holiday direct with a holiday company on the phone about 12 years ago, but for many people that was just not something they did. This kind of process is fine for those who want to travel for 2 weeks to the costa del whatever, stay in a hotel and then return, but less suitable for people for whom the holiday they want can’t easily be found on the page of a book.

Since I got my first computer the way in which people plan and book their holiday has changed beyond recognition, what is more, with sites like trip advisor you can find out what real people think of the places / hotels / resorts you have chosen. There is a wealth of advice out there, choice is one thing there is no shortage of. But it sure has turned into a time consuming business.

Hubby and I along with my parents, will be travelling to the west coast of the USA in October for hubby’s 50th birthday (you would think he would want to sit in a dark room but no) and he desires to spend the weekend of his birthday in Las Vegas. With 3 stages to the holiday there is a certain complexity. Even if I wanted them to, the brochures out there wouldn’t quite give us what we want. I have already done hours of reading my book about California (plus the book on Las Vegas I have now mislayed somewhere in the house but thats another story) and more hours looking at fligths to San Francisco, hotels in San Francisco, flights to Vegas and back and finally holiday houses on the coast. I have also spent time looking at the Vineyards of the Napa and Sonoma Valleys, because I would like to do a tour or two with a small amount of tasting thrown in.

Yesterday my parents came over for Sunday lunch, and between cooking roast beef etc. We went through all of my work to date, tracing the steps of the holiday and discussing exactly what would be our preferences. Now all that is left is to retrace all of these steps and actually book the thing. We are not rich people, and this is going to cost more than our average annual break, we will also be travelling pretty far from home so it is important to try at least to get things right.

The internet is a wonderful thing, it gives pleasure and freedom to do things like this, but you sure can lose hours of your day while trying to do something as simple as arranging a holiday. I must say though that now we have got this far, I am pretty excited about the prospect. Now all I need to do is get the 17 year old up to speed on his cooking and housekeeping abilities!


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