Sunday, 30 September 2007


Well, that's it then, my three week Australian holiday is now all booked up, I have even organised my visa now - you can do that electronically and don't have to get your passport stamped, which is a bit of shame as it would be nice to have my passport officially stamped!

So, what am I doing? Well, as I mentioned earlier I am flying to Sydney, and stopping over at Changi airport in Singapore, which, from looking at it's website, knows how to be a transit airport - there are lounges where you have a nap, massage and a shower (there are other things to do like have a swim, but that was just a selection!) before you get back on the plane again to fly on to Australia - yes, you have to pay for these things, but I think that it is so worth doing so just to freshen up before going on otherwise you end up at Sydney feeling very very grotty!

I have five days in Sydney before flying on to spend five days in Adelaide and celebrating Sarah's wedding. Then it's off to Melbourne for four days before flying to Hamilton Island in the Whitsundays to get some tropical sunshine and much needed R&R after all that rushing about making sure I see everything! So, after three days of lazing on the beach and perhaps doing some sailing and snorkelling, I then head back to the UK via Sydney (and Singapore again) and end up back in London early on Sunday morning, with just about enough time to get over the jet lag before going back to work. Before you all start saying but that doesn't add up to three weeks, yes, I know, it is just that I can't really count the days when I am travelling!

Anyway, it is really nice to have it all sorted out, however it has meant organising quite a few separate hotels and internal flights!! But I think that it has all come together really quite well. I did think that I may have had trouble getting a hotel in Adelaide or Melbourne because of the biennial Arts Festival and Grand Prix respectively. Adelaide wasn't too bad, but there wasn't as much choice in Melbourne as I had hoped, but I do have a place to stay, thank goodness!

Of course, I am hoping to keep you all abreast of my travels via my little blog!! But, after all that planning and booking and getting all excited, I am not actually going for another five months!!! Unfortunately, it is not like booking a weekend cottage in Cornwall, I had to book now or end up sleeping on the beach!! Besides which, I think that I would have gone crazy if I waited until, say, January to book as I would have been so worried that I couldn't get flights or hotels. Needless to say, I am one of those people that much prefer to be at the airport (or station or any other appointment type stuff) way too early!! I am quite happy to wander around or read a book secure in the knowledge that I am not going to miss anything because I decided to leave at the last minute!!

Saturday, 29 September 2007


Stupid, mindless destruction of other people's property is just nasty. I woke up this morning to find that someone had torn off the wing mirror of my car (my beloved Ford Puma!), it is still attached, but rather forlornly hanging by the wires that connect it to the car.

Of course, even if I had a vague idea of who it might be (a neighbour thinks that it may one of the family the other side of my road - but without proof...?), they are not likely to admit it are they? So, I am just going to have to take the car to the garage first thing Monday morning and get it fixed as it would create quite a hazard when driving along at any sort of speed as it would flap about (and in doing so, probably cause more damage).

Oooh, I am annoyed about it, but somehow not angry as the damage has been done and there is very little I can do about it. I could probably call the police and get it recorded, but what would be the point as I don't know who did it. All I can do is hope that it wont cost too much to repair.

Thursday, 27 September 2007


During the day to day course of my job, I ocassionally have to give presentations, talks, demonstrations or some other form of teaching or passing on information.

I like the one-to-one sessions as they are nice and friendly - usually tucked away in my office and with someone who clearly wants to learn something, as it happens, I had someone yesterday, a degree student who is about to start her dissertation and wanted to know more about how to find the information she needed. She was keen, interested and a joy to teach.

Today though, I had one of my more challenging experiences. Nothing nasty, no horrible questions, bored people or anything like that. was the largest group of people I have ever given a presentation to. There were at least 100 people there, the register will probably show around 115-130!

Needless to say, I opened the door to see a very full lecture hall and was promptly very nervous. Obviously I knew that the numbers would be high, but it never quite computes until you actually see all those faces staring back at you hoping that you have something interesting to say!!

The thing is....I used to stutter (still do when I am very, very tired) and ten years ago, I simply could not have stood up and spoken in front of all those people - I could have handled a smaller group (MUCH smaller - say about five!!).

But today? Nervous sure, but I could do it- I made them laugh, managed to skate over the usual computer problem (flippin' computers!), and above all, I think that they got the information that they needed.

My younger self would be amazed!!! ;-)

Monday, 24 September 2007


I freaked myself out this evening by buying return tickets to Australia!!! Yes, I did intend to do so, it is just a bit disconcerting to know that I am definitely going now (baring any mishaps of course, but that is what my insurance is for!).

I have three weeks in Australia next year and I look forward to seeing as much as I possibly can! Of course, Sarah will tell you that I am going especially for her wedding to Phil, and of course, that was the incentive to finally get me going to Australia. I mean, I was always going to go one day, but 'one day' never seems to turn up does it? So this was a good opportunity to get my act together!

I was going to leave the tickets for a little while longer, but every time I checked online they seemed to keep rising, so I thought better do it now before it gets ridiculous! So I am now flying Qantas at 10pm on a Friday and will be flying via Singapore and will land Sunday morning at about 11am! The journey back is about the same length, but I take off on Saturday evening at about 6pm and land Sunday morning at 7am - that just doesn't seem right does it? All those time zones!! ;-)

Anyway - it's ages yet before I actually go, but even now I am excited about it, so I expect that I will be climbing the walls and getting everybody annoyed by the time I actually go!!

Monday, 17 September 2007

Waking up!

How is it that some people simply bound out of bed the second the alarm goes off? I just cannot do that, I always want to roll over and snatch a few more minutes and because I do, I end up rushing around the house making sure I have everything and that the house is more or less straight before I go to work!

Why do I do this to myself!? I know that some people are morning people, but is this sheer habit or do they genuinely spring out of bed ready to face the day? Can I teach myself this habit? Or is my bed always going to be too warm and snuggly, tempting me to stay and snooze!?

In the summer is it not quite so bad because the sunlight wakes me up (so much so that I have put up blackout curtains!), but in the winter I find it practically impossible to get up - it is dark and cold and the bed is warm and the cat is cosily leaning against me, it just seems tooooo much to get up right there and then!

Getting up during the week is bad enough, but weekends are my bugbear - once again, I find it difficult to get out of bed, but then end up wasting the day and that does annoy me, but I just don't seem able to find the willpower to get out of bed!!! I really really must do better!

What can I do? Set up a heath robinson contraption that means that I have no choice but to get up? Train the cat to jump all over me until I get up? Set up a star chart with a treat at the end of it all as incentive? (hmm, I am not exactly five years old anymore!) If anyone has any ideas, I would be quite happy to listen!! Of course, Andy and Marielle would say that the best way of getting up early in the morning is to have children!! I think that Tom and Emily are regularly up at about 6am!! If nothing else would put me off ever having children - this would!! ;-)

By the way - Happy Birthday to Peter!

Thursday, 13 September 2007

British Medical Association

I was at the British Medical Association last night, the building is a grand old thing on Tavistock Square near Euston Station and is currently undergoing a facelift and is all covered in scaffolding so I couldn't actually see much of it!

I was attending the BMA Medical Book Competition Awards for 2007, this included awards for Patient Information Leaflets - of which I get about ten a year to review for the competition. I have been doing this reviewing for about four years, so it was very nice to get an invitation this year.

Anyway, there were first prizes in all categories of books; from Anaesthesia to Medicine to Ophthalmology, and an overall "Book Winner" was chosen from the list of winners and that was Allergy (3rd Edition) by Stephen Holgate, Martin Church and Lawrence Lichtenstein published in 2006.

The first prize for the Patient Information Leaflet awards went to Breakthrough Breast Cancer that had published a leaflet entitled Breast Cancer Risk Factors: The Facts.

It really was quite satisfying for me to see the end product of the work that I do for this competition - all on a voluntary basis! I am sure that I will be doing this next year as well, but probably wont get another invitation for a few years as the presentation is quite a small one - a select group of invitees of course!

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Forwarding emails

Everybody does it, some are genuinely funny and are meant to be sent on, some are forwarded in error, others are forwarded because they contain information pertinent to the conversation.

However, some can be unintentionally very very funny, I had one today! Clearly the forwardee was just sending me an email that had relevant information in it, but there was a section in it that was just hilarious!

I need to explain it all so that it will make some sense to you! What happened was that someone's assistant contacted me to book a training room, which I duly did, and then the person wanting the room emailed me later to cancel one of the dates, which is fine by me.

But, in the body of the email was an email from the assistant to the boss saying that they had booked the room while said boss was away on holiday and underneath that was a little sentence that said "Now tell me: is there a better secretary than me??? hehe"

I just could not believe that someone had written that, let alone that someone else had inadvertently sent it on to me!!! All I can say, is that they must have a very good employer/employee relationship!! I have a good relationship with my colleagues, but I don't think that I would ever say something like that, it just seems that little bit toooo smug!!!

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

Instruction manuals!

Why is it that no matter what the instruction manual says, everybody goes and does their own thing, or tries to do something without even glancing at the manual!!?

This afternoon, someone (who knows who they are, but shall remain nameless!) decided that they could do something on an unfamiliar online database without reading the manual. Fortunately it worked, so that was no problem. (and I am sure that there are several people up and down the country that try to do the same thing with the stuff that comes out of the Ikea box!! ;-) )

The tricky bit comes when you have a group of people all working towards the same purpose and are supposed to be singing from the same hymn book, but still end up all doing their own thing. I suppose in this case the end justifies the means as we all reach the same end, but it is very confusing when you work with all those people and they all tell you a way of doing something that is a little (if not completely) different to what you were told the day before.

Which makes a mockery of any manual as you end up doing your own thing anyway because you reckon that if everyone is already doing something in their own unique way then it doesn't matter if you don't strictly follow the manual as it is clearly not that important!

What is a girl to do!!!?

Monday, 3 September 2007

Back to work....

....for the second time!! Yes, I know that doesn't quite make sense. To clarify - I (foolishly perhaps!) have two jobs, I went back to the first one after my holiday in Devon and a week at home, and I went back to the second one today after the month of August off.

Now, normally there aren't many jobs that would give you the whole of August off, but I am one half of the evening shift at a local university library and as there are practically no students around in August, the library closes at 5:30pm during August, so I am out of a job! Which is very nice of course as I get to go home and put my feet up much earlier than usual!

Today, and for the next year (baring the usual time off) I wont get home until late! I do sometimes ask myself "why oh why am I doing this" - well, let me tell you, my bank account hasn't seen the colour red for a while now!!

Besides which, it stops me from sitting at home twiddling my thumbs and raiding my biscuit tin!! Having said that, the evening library (if that makes sense) seems to have an inordinate amount of goodies in the staff kitchen!! There are about 20 staff and it always seems to be someone's birthday or someone has come back from a holiday or are celebrating something else!!

Sunday, 2 September 2007

Fighting cushions

Anyone who has put duvet covers onto double duvets will know where I am coming from!! I had to wash the armchair (my lovely oversized one!) seat cover cos the cat did something horrible! And rather than just wash the one cover, I decided to throw in another couple of seat and cushion covers and wash them too.

Well, everything went well....then I had to put them back on! They are worse than duvet covers if such a thing is possible - the covers are quite a tight fit so I really had to fight the cushions to get them recovered! Well, I couldn't have naked cushions could I!?!?

So that was my Sunday afternoon! Tomorrow schools up and down the country start their autumn term, so I expect there are a few anxious children this Sunday afternoon. There are some teachers in my family, so I want to wish them luck as they go back to school too, but in particular, I want to wish Ben Good Luck as he starts his new job as Drama Teacher at a school near Liverpool - it's his first year as a teacher following his PGCE year and as Mum says "I expect Ben has the collywobbles", but we are both very sure that he will have a great time and will enjoy being a teacher, but first he has to overcome the severe handicap of being the only Arsenal supporter in a school that probably supports nothing but Liverpool or Everton!!

Incidentally Collywobbles is actually in the dictionary, I didn't think that it would be! The Chambers dictionary says that it is a facetious term that means 'nervous stomach or state of apprehensiveness generally' - which is probably what many people (teachers and children alike) feel today! One good thing for overcoming the Collywobbles must be going to the shops and buying brand new pencils, cases, paper and all the rest of it - I like to think that teachers do the same - I can just picture them in the shop choosing between a cloth or metal pencil case just to soothe the nerves!! ;-)

Saturday, 1 September 2007


I have just been going through some photos that I took lately and came across this one! Obviously I didn't take this one as that would have been quite impossible! ;-)

I remember how I felt when I came off the ride - I don't think that my stomach settled for about an hour afterwards!! It really didn't seem to affect me that much when I was younger, but heck I am not exactly all that old, so why do I seem to come off much worse now!!! I remember the day - it was just a week ago - we had all decided to go and visit the Festival of Transport in Sussex (more Dad's thing than anyone else's cos it was full of traction engines and stuff like that!).

We had a good day - Dad(!) suggested that we go on this ride! So, Dad, Ben, Andy, Tom and I all went on this ride - Tom was sandwiched in between Andy and I and off we went!! Urghhh - never again, I really did feel quite 'off' for a while afterwards. I have to say that the weather that day was superb - a really nice weekend weatherwise considering how wet this summer has been!

We spent most of the weekend in the garden, which was really nice and now that it is September I doubt that we'll get another nice weekend like that until next year!! Oh well, I could always go on holiday somewhere hot and exotic!!