Category Archives: Starting out

Thoughts for Friday – 26th June 2015

FOUR-DAY-WEEKEND-HELL-YEAHA relatively short break from the weekly treadmill of commuting and staying away from home during the week followed the wonderful stay that I experienced at the B&B outside of Brighton. Not counting attending college, I had a four-day weekend to enjoy myself before heading off on my travels again.

My four days off consisted of Skyping for several hours with the wonderful Kate Loveton, catching up with friends, and showing my face to various family members in the hopes that they hadn’t forgotten me entirely. I know, I know… my face is far too ugly to forget!

As seems to be the way with me, I felt a headache developing a day or two before I was due to travel halfway up the country for a couple of team meetings. Feeling a little green around the gills on the Tuesday morning, I drove over 140 miles in roughly 3 hours, which was pretty good when you consider that I made a pit stop a couple of times along the way (a quick rearrangement of the letters in the words ‘pit’ and ‘stop’ will give you a fair idea of why I needed to pull into a services a couple of times…)

Just as I pulled up at the hotel, I received a call from my manager who I had been scheduled to meet at 2pm, telling me that she was seriously behind and wouldn’t be able to meet me until the early evening. I had no problem with the meeting being put back (these things happen, after all) but I was slightly miffed that the hotel wouldn’t let me check in until 2pm that afternoon.

So I had 90 minutes to burn before I could lay my weary (and pounding) head down for a few hours. I drove to the nearest shopping centre in the hopes that some retail therapy would take my mind off the throbbing of my head, yet even my lust for new clothing could not douse the pain in my head.

It would have been nice if my curry had some chicken in it...

It would have been nice if my curry had some chicken in it…

I picked up a pot of chicken tikka masala and rice in the local supermarket (or grocery store for my American pals!) and slouched back to my car to eat it all the while feeling pretty sorry for myself. To add insult to injury, upon eating the said curry and rice, I was alarmed to find that there were no traces of chicken to be found. The supermarket, in all of their nefarious evilness, had stiffed me on the chicken but still left the flavour of it inside the curry. That’s just cruel if you ask me…

I eventually checked in at the hotel, took a couple of strong painkillers and then had a nap for a couple of hours before a knock at my door woke me. I couldn’t recall ordering room service, although when in the middle of a severe headache, I barely remember anything at all. Alas, it was not a cold pint of beer and steak and fries on a plate, it was just the receptionist informing me that my manager had arrived and was waiting for me down in the bar where, quite frankly, EVERY single meeting should be held.

It started with coffee, progressed to soft carbonated drinks, and finished with an evening meal. After five and a half hours, my meeting with my manager concluded and the only reason we stopped was due to the bar calling ‘time’ and closing for the night. It would be fair to say that my manager and I like to chat a lot and several times went off-topic and discussed most worldly topics that were in no way shape or form related to our job roles.

1349137801913_2973999Perhaps it was fortuitous that I had a nap on the Tuesday afternoon as the next couple of days consisted of back to back meetings. On Wednesday we were all asked the same question about why our best friend is actually our best friend. My immediate answer was that Kate Loveton is my best friend because she knows where I buried all the bodies… This raised a few titters and some alarmed facial expressions from a couple of colleagues who don’t know me that well yet and, after that comment, probably weren’t too keen on getting to know me any better either.

Call it team building (I just call it an excuse for a good night out), my colleagues and I went to the local leisure complex and had a couple of games of bowling. I’m blaming my lack of accuracy on the fact that I was stone-cold sober while playing, although my manager did remark that my technique was pretty good, it was just my aim that was crap.

It would be fair to say that these are the biggest balls I've seen for some time...

It would be fair to say that these are the biggest balls I’ve seen for some time…

I have to thank one of my male colleagues for taking one for the team and coming last so that I didn’t have to, besides he was the same colleague who booked me into that hideous pub outside of Brighton a couple of months ago and he owed me one anyway.

There were some sore heads and bruised egos at the meeting the next day and I think we were all pretty glad when it concluded so that we could all begin our long journeys back home. I made good time until I hit the M25 and got stuck on the damn thing for nearly two hours. It was also a warm and humid day, and so sitting in a massive traffic jam was not exactly an enjoyable experience.

I got home several miserable hours later.

suspenseAs much as I enjoy delivering sessions, it was nice to have a week away from giving your everything to a group of learners, day after day, some of who don’t always appreciate the time and effort we put in to our sessions. I was able to meet up with colleagues, catch up on the latest gossip, look at a picture of someone’s prawn (yes, really) and get my ass kicked at ten pin bowling. Best of all, the first couple of days of the following week would see me commuting from home each day. I would be back home in my local area, always something to look forward to. I would receive a hero’s welcome, surely?

You’ll just have to wait until next week to find out!

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A Friend Indeed

Kate Loveton once again asked me to guest-blog for her on Odyssey of a Novice Writer while she took a well-deserved vacation.

It took a lot of willpower, but I managed to refrain from any double entendres or smutty innuendo…

I hope you enjoy…

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Pay It Forward: Heather B. Costa

Imagine my surprise and delight when notification came through of Taylor featuring my little old blog on her site!

Taylor has always been a great source of support for me when it comes to blogging and I was delighted when she chose my blog to appear on her ‘Pay It Forward’ feature.

If you have not already done so, please check out Taylor’s fabulous blog. I guarantee that you’ll love it ❤

Taylor Grace

Pay It Forward Fridays came from this post by Emily Guido. The idea is to feature a blogger or author on Fridays and give them a little shoutout. Anyone goes as long as they’re interested.

I’ve received an incredible amount of support from bloggers, authors and people I’ve met on line who didn’t know me and were just very kind, supportive souls. And, when I read that post by Emily Guido, I thought: time to give back.

I loved this quote from Emily’s mother:

“I cast a couple of pieces of bread on the water and the waves bring me back a ham sandwich.”

Karma is a beautiful thing.

Today I’m focusing on Heather B. Costa.

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I apologize for the tiny picture but Heather is a little shy. This is her avatar.

She says of herself:

“My name is Heather B. Costa and I am an aspiring writer who one day hopes…

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Two Heads: A Guide to Working Collaboratively

A great post by Chris Musgrave on the must-haves when collaborating with a writing partner.

The Sarcastic Muse

Two Heads: A Guide to Working Collaboratively A good handshake is a must! (c) Yoel

Writing is usually viewed as a solitary pursuit, insofar as it is typically one writer slaving away in secret (or Starbucks depending on your preference). Yet, once in a while, we get the urge to join forces with others of our ilk and write collaboratively be it as a pair or part of a larger group.

Last week, Heather B. Costa of the, often hilarious, blog Trials of a wanna-be-published Writer (go over there and show her some love) asked me if I had any tips for writers wishing to collaborate. As a matter of fact, I do and this post was born.

 Tools

The absolute minimum we require to work collaboratively are:

  • An idea (harder than it looks);
  • Something to write with/on; and
  • Some means of communication.

In the bygone days of yore (a period of history succeeded by the…

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Thoughts for Friday – 6th February 2015

men-vs-women-who-are-the-better-drivers-infographicWhy do men always think that they make better drivers than women?

If only the work colleague who drove myself and two clients to the cinema a couple of weeks ago had realised the folly in his thinking, he might not have found himself faced with a £50 fine for his troubles.

Despite the cinema only being a fifteen minute walk from the home, my colleague had decided that the weather was far too inclement for us to dare walking such a distance should another snow/sleet/rain shower come down (it didn’t). Once it had been decided that we were driving, we then had to find somewhere to park. Imagine my colleague’s gleeful expression when he found a space right outside the front door of the cinema.

“Excellent, right outside,” he said, rubbing his hands together as if he had just discovered a cure for cancer.

“Um, you know this is a restricted parking zone, right?” I replied, pointing to the large sign next to the car stating as much.

“It doesn’t count on a Saturday and besides, I’m parked in the white box, not on the yellow line,” he replied, taking off his seat belt.

parking-sign-600x399“The restrictions are Monday to Saturday, 8 am to 6 pm and include parking in the white boxes. We can only park here for 30 minutes. Don’t you think we should park somewhere else?”

My colleague then gave me a look that silently suggested that, as a woman, I should know never to question a man on his driving, his ability to navigate, or his choice of parking spots. I shrugged my shoulders and decided that, seeing as it was his car we had taken, it was his risk to take.

I had a jolly old time watching Into The Woods (a pretty good film but one that could have done with being about 30 minutes shorter than it actually was) all the while casting furtive glances at my colleague and wondering if the parking inspector was in town that afternoon. Two hours, a good sing-song and a stiff pair of legs later, my colleague, our clients and I left the cinema and walked the 5 or so yards back to the car.

“See, a nice easy walk back to the car,” my colleague grinned, still clearly reveling in the glory of besting a woman when it came to knowledge of the Highway Code.

park_1717912cFortunately for me, the parking ticket had been stuck on the passenger side of the window and I tore it off like a five-year old opening a Christmas present. “Um, I think you might want to read this,” I said, trying my best not to grin as I passed the offending piece of paper to my colleague.

“But….” he began.

“I did try to tell you,” I replied, only moments away from wetting myself with laughter (not literally, my bladder control is actually quite good).

My colleague grumbled for the entire three or four minutes that it took us to drive back to the house. “Maybe I should have listened to you,” he eventually mumbled, looking as if he were a bulldog chewing a wasp.

Evil or not, I did take a certain amount of satisfaction that I had been proved right when it came to my colleagues poor choice of parking spot. I felt vindicated that, as a woman, I did actually know how to drive, and where I could and couldn’t park. Most men would consider a woman criticising their driving the eighth deadly sin and naturally refuse to listen to the suggestion of any females situated in their car at that time.

Why do men have to be so chauvinistic when it comes to driving? Can’t they just accept that women are as good as, if not better at it than they are?

manvwomanWe all know that the male brain is only able to concentrate on one thing at a time. Driving, following directions and reading road signs requires multi-tasking and the ability to do several different things at once. Not only do your eyes and ears have to process what is going on around you, a driver also has to be able to move their legs and arms independently of each other in order to change gears, increase speed, brake, and turn the steering wheel.

This level of multi-tasking seems tailor-made for women to be superior drivers to men and what happened to my colleague only goes to prove the point that I am trying to make. If men spent a little less time with their brains in their pants and concentrated on driving properly, or at least set their ego to one side and allow their female passenger(s) to make sensible parking suggestions, they’d probably be as good at driving as we women are.

P.S. I am neither a man hater, feminist, or the next wanna-be Gloria Steinem. I actually like men very much…they have certain special uses… I love men really! 🙂 ❤

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2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 6,800 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Thoughts for Friday – 14th November 2014

News_No

It’s only a simple, two-letter word, so how come it’s so hard to say?

For whatever reason, I have found myself getting stuck in the habit of being a people pleaser and agreeing to things that I don’t actually want to do for the sake of not rocking the boat.

Some people might say that just makes me a decent person, someone who puts the needs and wants of others ahead of their own. Doing that is all well and good until it grinds you down and makes you ill. This is something that I’ve found out recently and, despite numerous people trying to drum it in to me before now, I’ve only recently been taking on board what they’ve been telling me for ages now.

Whether it is my personal or professional life, I have found that agreeing to the demands of everyone around me actually does more harm than good. At the end of the day, saying no to something isn’t the end of the world, so why do the people you turn down act like it is?

Perhaps people become accustomed to you saying yes all the time that it comes as quite a shock when you finally say no. I suppose that’s when all the snarky comments come out about how you’ve got an attitude, or how you’re being selfish etc.

by-saying-yes-when-you-need-to-say-no-you-2Saying no doesn’t mean that you have an attitude or that you’re being selfish, it just means that you’re doing what is right for you and not necessarily what is most convenient for the people around you. Maybe we have lulled those people around us into a false sense of security and our new found assertiveness might rub them up the wrong way for a while.

They’ll get over it….eventually.

There are times when we all have very good reasons for saying no and it shouldn’t be something that we’re afraid of saying to the people around us. Saying no doesn’t make you a bad person, it simply makes you a person who realises that there needs to be more to life than running yourself into the ground for the sake of others. What would happen if you burnt out and were no use to anyone? Those people would still find a way of getting their needs met without you.

So if you feel like saying no to someone, do it. It might seem like a foreign word to you, but you’ll find that, the more you say it, the easier it becomes. It’s a simple word: two letters, one syllable and it’s not as dirty a word as you might think.

Go on, say it. I dare you!

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Thoughts for Friday – 7th November

A few weeks ago, Kate Loveton bore witness to a rant of epic proportions.

Yes, mild-mannered (but smut-inclined) little me had the mother of all rants about…….men.

Don’t get me wrong, I do actually like men – they come in handy for a number of things….. What annoys me the most is that everything in today’s society still seems to favour the male of the species and I find that somewhat unfaith_6r.

I like beer. There you go, I’ve said it. I like big, tall pints of beer and can drink several of them in a short space of time. If I go into a bar and ask for a pint of beer, the tender will often look at me question my sexual orientation. Not only is that kind of judgement highly offensive to people who are in same-sex relationships (and let me make this clear – I have many friends who are in same-sex relationships and support them wholeheartedly) it is also offensive to judge me against a social stereotype.

Apparently, as a woman, I should order a half pint of beer or perhaps a bottle, but never, EVER a pint. Well, I live on a budget and everyone knows that the most cost-effective way to buy something is in bulk. Why should I pay 1/3 more for two half-pints of beer when I can just buy a pint and save myself some money?

Because people will look at me and begin making wild assumptions based on my choice of drink. How can it be that a man can drink a glass of wine and still be considered masculine, but a woman can not drink a pint of lager and still look feminine?

th_7As much as we like to think that society’s attitudes toward women have changed, it seems that in many ways the female of the species is still subjected to a number of double standards when it comes to what is viewed as socially acceptable. A man can pass wind in public and people will find it amusing, perhaps his friends will congratulate him on the smell/length/volume of his flatulence. A woman must never, EVER pass wind in public or even in the privacy of their own home, for that would be deemed to be extremely unladylike.

Well, I am sorry to break it to you men, but us females pretty much have the same digestive system as you do, and apart from a prostate, our back passage works much in the same way as yours does. We all eat and digest food in the same way, and flatulence is a by-product of that – so why can men get away with passing wind and women can’t?

And lets not even get started on the blatant public scratching of rear ends and genitals that men always seem to get away with. If a man scratches himself no one blinks an eye, but if a woman does the same thing then it is automatically assumed that she has some kind of STD….

There are also a number of sports that society assumes are only acceptable for men such as football (soccer to you guys in the US), rugby (the nearest comparison in the US would be American Football) or golf. It was only this year that one of Scotland’s most famous and prestigious golf courses decided that it would allow women to walk on their hallowed turf. What is it with all of this ‘guys only’ attitude that still continues to pervade society more than we might like to admit?

I could go on and on…..and on about the subject of feminism but I shall not bore you with more examples. I am sure that, given a little time to consider your own experiences, you’ll realise that we still have a way to go before we live in a society that treats women as equals. I’m not anti-men (far from it in fact!) but I am proud to be woman and one who doesn’t necessarily conform to society’s standards of what may be considered ‘feminine’.

th_5There have been a number of women throughout history who have had some pretty extreme ways of making their point and fighting for equal rights for women. I assure you that I am not going to be throwing myself under a horse any time soon, but I will continue to drink pints of beer and cheer on my favourite football team without giving a second thought to what other people might think.

As for the breaking wind in public? I think I’ll leave that to a woman far braver than I!

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Lost in Translation

Kate Loveton rather foolishly left me in charge of her blog this week and this is the end result of what happens when you let a highly-caffeinated, smut-inclined Brit loose on your unsuspecting blog readership….

Odyssey of a Novice Writer

us-uk-flag

America.

England.

Communication between natives of these two countries should be simple, we speak the same language after all.

Well, not quite it would seem.

Not that I want to get into a pissing contest about it, but us Brits spoke the language first. Americans just bastardised it for their own use.

usbritI am joking of course. My dearest and closest friend is American and I would never knowingly say anything to upset or hurt her. Confusing her with my use of the English language is another matter entirely….

Kate and I Skype every fortnight and it has become something that I very much look forward to, especially as I know that I can bemuse her with some of the colloquialisms that come out of my mouth. It’s not just the mockney-cockney rhyming slang that leaves her questioning my sanity, it’s also the way I pronounce things.

I can be…

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Lonely Hearts

The very wonderful Kate Loveton did me the great honour of choosing one of my stories to continue for this week’s TiV prompt.

Check out her story (it’s way better than mine!):

Odyssey of a Novice Writer

image

He’s downstairs waiting for you,” said Dad, balancing on his cane.

He was Danny, the terrific guy I’d managed to snag thanks to an online dating service.

“You going out again? You were just out the other night. This fellow is rushing things… doesn’t he have anyone else to spend time with?”

Dad’s tone was disgruntled. Illness and old age had made him waspish.

“I won’t be out late, Dad. I’ll be home in time to say goodnight.” I finished brushing my hair and glanced at the mirror. I’d never be beautiful, but the face that smiled back at mine was pretty – full of happy anticipation.

“I don’t like this online dating stuff,” said Dad. “Back in my day, we met people at church or through family. We sure as hell didn’t meet ’em on some machine!”

Dad had been one of the reasons I’d looked into an…

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