Tag Archives: kate loveton

Thoughts for Friday – 3rd July 2015

hang-in-thereI rather left you all hanging at the end of last week’s Thoughts post, didn’t I?

How mean of me to tease you with my wares and then snatch them away at the last moment, but hey, I have to give you some sort of reason to come back each week…

After a trying week ‘up north’ (let’s be fair, anything north of Watford is considered to be northern England to me), I was able to enjoy a relaxing weekend at home, catching up with friends and family who had hoped their efforts the week previously would mean that they wouldn’t have to see me for a fortnight or so.

Batteries charged, makeup applied like war paint, I strode toward the new week like Naomi Campbell striking her assistant with a mobile phone. I had a target in my sights, I took aim and I was going to knock them dead in my local area with my delivery skills.

That had been my intention although I have to admit that it didn’t quite turn out that way.

Don’t get me wrong, I like a good bit of banter with my delegates, but there is having a bit of fun and then there is just blatantly taking the piss. I tried to remain good natured throughout the first day, while wanting to wring some of the necks of a few choice delegates. Had I not kept my temper in check, I fear that Kate Loveton would once again be roped into helping me bury some bodies.

I had much the same group on the Tuesday and I’m not sure whether it was the free sweets and candies laid out on the tables or the fact that I had a small selection of children in adults clothing, but a section of the group were determined to push my buttons.

f39e65adb87bfa2bc769aac2cbb48d4aOne particular delegate kept interrupting me and I had to resort to bitchslapping her (metaphorically speaking, my manager frowns upon actually hitting people during training sessions) and all but shaming her in front of the rest of the group. She seemed to have taken on board that I wouldn’t take any more of her crap and was relatively quiet for the rest of the day.

I have to admit that by lunchtime some of the delegates were just being plain rude by returning from breaks when they felt like it and so I continued the session without them and refused to help them catch up. When I pointed out that our finishing time was dependant on people coming back from breaks on time, lo and behold, everyone arrived back from the afternoon break bang on time!

5c1110542c95ce5cb1ee6ed96fd468b0It’s hard work to remain calm and composed when some delegates seem to have no other reason for attending your sessions other than to get a rise out of you. All the while, you stand there taking it, smiling and not letting everyone see that you could quite happily garrotte the annoying shit who causes as much pain, misery and discomfort as a haemorrhoid on Christmas Day.

kirk-yelling-at-kahnThis is why after-session debriefs are always needed. These debriefs are the perfect opportunity to really let rip about some of the awful delegates you’ve had to put up with that week. My poor other half (and yes, I kept that very quiet!) listened intently as I stamped my feet and shouted obscenities about certain delegates and made disparaging remarks about everything from their hairstyles, dress sense, to which strange planet they came from and how quickly I could reintroduce them into the Earth’s orbit and far, far away from another of my training sessions.

After a couple of tough days what I really needed was a three and a half hour drive to Birmingham, battling some of the most idiotic and dangerous drivers that I have seen for some time. What was it about mid-afternoon on a Wednesday? Is it a special time of the week where you’re allowed to leave your common sense and driving skills at home?

Somehow I made it to my hotel in Birmingham, shaking slightly but still relatively in one piece. This week had been sent to try me, I knew that much for sure, but how much more would I be expected to take?

god-s-love-clipart-Love___Be_Mine_Vector_ClipartGod must have answered my prayers, for who should be on the reception desk but Jermaine, the hunk of burning love that my colleague and I fought over the last time we stayed at the hotel! I think Jermaine was being coy with me when he asked me if I’d stayed before and I answered him by saying that it was my third visit in six weeks.

“You just can’t stay away, can you?” he responded.

Oh, Jermaine, you sexy hunk. If only you knew…

I hadn’t just randomly driven up to Birmingham to see Jermaine, I was actually there for a specific reason which was to attend a Fire Theory ‘Train the Trainer’ course. I had imagined being trained by a fit and hunky fireman while I fanaticised about the size of his hose, but it actually turned out to be a retired, middle-aged fireman who sat and talked us through the theory of fire, how it starts etc.

210201_1Our trainer asked us what we knew about fire, to which I piped up, “Uh…it’s hot?” which definitely raised a few sniggers from my colleagues but probably didn’t win me any points with Mr ‘I Used to be a Fireman’ who looked at me like I was actually as stupid as I look.

I’d had a 300 mile round trip to be trained in the theory of fire, a lot of which I knew anyway, but at least I got a free lunch (sandwiches and crisps) and an opportunity to flirt with Jermaine again. Plus, I got to see my colleagues who joined the team at roughly the same time I did. I think they’ve realised by now that I have the biggest potty mouth out of all of us.

If I thought the week I’d just endured was challenging, nothing compared to the following week in London. Stay tuned to find out what happened next…

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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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Thoughts for Friday – 19th June 2015

My brief stay in Nottingham behind me, I was looking forward to spending time somewhere a little closer to home the following week. Unfortunately, due to the horrific design of the A27 (see my previous Thoughts post), I had no choice but to book overnight accommodation for the duration of my stay.

As you already know, the last time I stayed just outside Brighton, my colleague booked us into the most awful establishment and I had decided that I would NOT be staying there again. That meant that I had to find somewhere else to hang my hat for the best part of the working week.

moneyMost of the chain hotels were either booked up or way outside my budget (my company only allows me to spend a certain amount on overnight accommodation and any infringement on this results in having ones fingers broken and various objects inserted in various places – joke!) The truth is that I work for a charity and if I can save some money by keeping to or coming under my budget limit, I am happy to do so, knowing that the money saved will be spent on meaningful projects that will benefit people with a learning disability.

One of my favourite sites to use when looking for accommodation is Booking.com (and no they didn’t pay me to say that). The site allows you to compare prices of overnight accommodation easily and also offers discounts for registered users who use their site regularly to book their stays, which again means that I can get value for money for the budget I have.

I found a small B&B listed not far from where I would be delivering that week and found that not only was it a stone’s throw from where I would be working, it also had free Wi-Fi (I never book accommodation that doesn’t include Wi-Fi or breakfast) and even its own gym and indoor pool. It sounded great and so I booked my stay and didn’t think any more about it until I began my journey on the Monday afternoon.

fawlty-towersCall it paranoia, but I began having visions of the B&B resembling something out of Fawlty Towers, with highly-strung owners and bizarre guests. The further I got to my destination, the more fear crept into me, crawling through my veins and placing pressure on my bladder and bowels. Would I survive the week, or would I get eaten alive or buried under the decking in the back yard? Would I ever be heard of again?

It must have been the cheese sandwich I had the night before that had caused me to become convinced that staying in a B&B in the middle of nowhere (it was down a long country lane and off the beaten track) would see the demise of Heather B Costa before she ever made it to Mrs Loveton’s home in the good old US of A.

I couldn’t have been more wrong about the B&B and I was delighted to find that, even though it was in the middle of nowhere, the surrounding acres of countryside were beautiful and a sight to behold. From my window I could see wild rabbits running free, deer frolicking across the fields and all manner of wild birds flitting from tree to tree.

2015-06-03 17.41.12The room was pretty good too, with a clean and spacious en-suite bathroom that had hot running water (my last visit to this area of England didn’t) and reliable and speedy Wi-Fi. The only downside was that I had a single bed, and so I had to try very hard (and successfully I may add) to make sure that I didn’t roll off and land on the floor during the night.

The bed, though small, was comfortable and I managed to get a good night’s sleep on each of the three nights that I stayed there and I didn’t once fall out and land on my ass.

Best of all was the freshly-prepared breakfast banquet that I sat down to each morning, although I must confess to being slightly overawed by the 60-piece matching china dining set that adorned the massive dining table. I had a number of pieces of cutlery of differing sizes and I am almost certain that I showed myself to be the cretin that I am by using the wrong spoon or knife at the wrong time.

KC-05267.1LBy completing a menu form the night before, breakfasts were made to order and I enjoyed a bowl of porridge and blueberries each morning, followed by toast, scrambled eggs and baked beans, as well as my very own pot of filter coffee and orange juice. The eggs for breakfast were from the B&B’s very own hens and were collected each morning at 6 am from their hutch. Talk about fresh food!

As for the sessions themselves, they went pretty well and I had a good group of learners. It just so happened that it was also a pretty warm and humid week and that I was delivering my sessions in a room on the top floor of a building and with windows on all sides, which meant by the end of each session I was dripping with sweat and almost ready to fall asleep standing up.

10227067335_03666877bc_zThe delegates who had been with me for all three sessions expressed their disappointment that I would not be delivering their last three sessions, and I found it quite sweet that they’d taken to me so well. It’s always nice to hear that your delegates appreciate the sessions and how much effort and energy is put into each one.

After three long days, I packed up my equipment and my Annie dolls, all of whom got a good pumping and blowing on the last day, and returned home to the comfort of my own bed. It was good to be back by Thursday evening, but the one thing that I missed more than anything was the fantastic breakfasts at the B&B, even if I did use the wrong cutlery…

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Thoughts for Friday – 17th April 2015

It may come as a shock to some of you to discover that I am a T.I.T.

Miss Loveton, stop that sniggering!

Sadly for any men reading my blog, I am not going to write a post on breasts (that may come later…) I am, for want of a better acronym, a ‘teacher in training’.

I mentioned a few weeks ago that my life had just got a whole lot busier and it is my ‘teacher in training’ status that accounts for most of that (neither Chloe the baby nor Barney the puppy are mine, so I don’t have to care for them 24 hours a day). Ever since I received word that I had been selected by my company to become part of their teacher/trainer team, life has whizzed past faster than I might have liked.

From taking delivery of a printer that is almost as big as my flat, to first aid kits and course literature, I am now only able to freely move in approximately one third of the area of my living space. I will soon also have three resuscitation dolls and am currently thinking of names to call them. Any suggestions on a postcard please…

image

Be glad that I didn’t pose on my chaise longue….

My new role started on April 1st (perhaps not the best day to start if you’re into all of that April Fool’s malarkey) and my first few days were spent relatively close to home. The real fun started on Easter Monday when I had a long drive up north to a place called Peterborough. I arrived in the early evening and checked in expecting to find a tiny little box room, imagine my surprise when I discovered I’d been put in an executive suite!

Gazing around my luxurious quarters, I discovered a beautiful en-suite bathroom, a king-size bed and the mother of all luxuries….a chaise longue!

Placing my travel case on the floor, I had visions of laying on said chaise longue and being hand-fed grapes by an Adonis in nothing but a loin cloth. It was only after I checked out that I realised that you had to pay extra for that little ‘luxury’.

photoThe room I stayed in had more light switches than I knew what to do with and may have accounted for my inability to drop off to sleep initially. It was only after I flicked a dozen or more switches that I managed to turn off the purple glowing light around my headboard. While this would have been great for an impromptu rave in my room or perhaps something a little more amorous, it wasn’t exactly conducive to a good night’s sleep.

The breakfast the next morning was pretty decent too, apart from the male server who kept calling me ‘sweetie’. On the fifth occasion he called me it I almost dumped the rest of my bowl of porridge over his head, which would have ruined his neatly coiffed hair which had been styled to within an inch of its life. NO ONE calls me ‘sweetie’ before I’ve had at least half a gallon of coffee in the morning.

That afternoon I had to drive to Nottingham where I would be staying for the next three nights. Judging by my Sat Nav, it seemed a fairly easy journey that would take no more than an hour. Cue major traffic jams on the motorways, a Sat Nav that clearly didn’t have a clue where it was going and Nikki Minaj performing at the city’s arena. A 60 minute journey took me nearly two and a half hours and by the time I got to the hotel I was badly in need of a stiff drink.

training-sign-300x300I’ve been fortunate enough to be working alongside an experienced trainer this week who has somewhat taken me under his wing. We spent two very enjoyable and slightly raucous evenings in the hotel’s bar and restaurant giggling like a pair of schoolchildren. My colleague is from the North, while I am a southerner which meant that we had a few mis-communications throughout the week and some very humorous stories to tell. Perhaps the hotel staff will best remember us for our ‘said the nun to the vicar’ response to every statement anyone made. I convinced my colleague that adding the statement to the end of any sentence is guaranteed to make it sound ruder than it actually is. For example:

“Can you butter my toast….said the nun to the vicar.”

“I’ll park my car in your driveway…said the nun to the vicar.”

“Does that come with cream…said the nun to the vicar.”

I’m sure you get the drift.

I had traveled to Nottingham with the intention of watching a master at work (i.e. my colleague) but he ended up throwing me to the wolves and asking me to deliver part of a course that I hadn’t even seen. The next day he made me present 85% of a course that I’d only ever seen delivered once. Talk about throwing me in at the deep end!

You’ll be delighted to know that both training sessions went pretty well and I didn’t die on my ass when confronted with a room full of people all looking to me to teach them something. Once I got over the initial nerves, I actually found that I enjoyed myself and only tripped over my words a couple of times. I think I did OK, taking everything in to consideration.

Who knew that Kevin Costner doesn't actually live in Nottingham?

Who knew that Kevin Costner doesn’t actually live in Nottingham?

I drove back home on the Friday morning, only slightly disappointed that I didn’t see Robin Hood or any of his band of merry men. I made pretty good time considering that I had to drive nearly 200 miles. The whole week was exhausting but also extremely enjoyable and I now even have a couple of real-life training sessions under my belt. This week I am in Luton with another teacher/trainer and so I’m getting used to living out of a suitcase, the plus side being that I don’t have to make my bed or cook any of my own meals while I’m away.

It’s hard work being a T.I.T but there are also a lot of perks, so maybe being one isn’t such a bad thing after all….

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Thoughts for Friday – 27th March 2015

This week’s post may be shorter than my usual weekly contribution, due to the fact that I have been struck down by a humdinger of a cold.

Those of you who have followed my blog throughout the last few years or so will know that, almost two years ago, the mighty Heather B Costa was felled by a flu-related virus of mammoth proportions, and all due to the fact that some butt-scratching, beer-bellied builder coughed in my face while I stood in line for my morning coffee at McDonalds.

mcdonald-s-coffee-coming-soon-to-grocery-storesFear not, I have learned the error of my ways and from that point forth, I have only ever used the drive-thru to get my morning java. Who would of guessed how much easier it is to NOT get out of your car and walk the 5 or so yards to the restaurant – if one can call it that.

What I had forgone on daily exercise, I’d gained from the fact that I remained cold/flu-virus free for the best part of two years.

Until now.

It might have something to do with the hectic month I’ve had, but I must have not been paying my immune system sufficient time and respect as it has now decided to all but abandon ship on me. I have been reduced to nothing more than a sorry-looking, wheezing, red-nosed, coughing, spluttering ruin of a woman. Strange fluids emanate from all kinds of orifices, and my lack of control over any of them is quite alarming.

I only wished that I looked this good right now...

I only wished that I looked this good right now…

Kate Loveton will tell you that I’m a pretty bad patient and not the type to let such an inconsequential thing as a little cold or flu knock me down. No, I struggle on through it and make the damn thing end up sticking around much longer than I wanted it to. The devil makes work for idle hands, as they say, and I find it hard to sit down and convalesce (even if it is the best thing for me).

Perhaps this is a case in point of my habit of over-sharing, but I have twice had to clean my laptop and tablet screens of the spittle projected from my mouth during a particularly violent coughing fit. If computers could contract human viruses, I am pretty sure that I could take down the FBI, MI5, and the Pentagon with this vile bug.

The virus isn’t really as bad as I am making it out to be, it’s just that I get a little grumpy when I feel under the weather and like to bitch and moan about it to anyone that will listen. I need hot tea, sympathy, and chicken noodle soup. I need pandering and pampering so that I can feel ever so slightly less dramatic about my sniffles.

stingI think I’ve used enough tissues in the last couple of days to end up on Sting’s hit list when it comes to those at fault for the decline of the Brazilian rainforests, swigged more cough medicine than a hard-up alcoholic on a binge, and coughed up enough weird-looking stuff that I could create a species of outer-world creature that wouldn’t look out of place on Star Trek: The Next Generation.

If I drop by your blog in the next week or so, please make sure that you’re wearing suitable protective gear as I am likely to cough, splutter and sneeze over everything within a 20 feet radius of me at the moment.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m pretty sure that’s Sting at my door…

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Thoughts for Friday – 20th March 2015

exhausted-womanFear not, I am not about to subject you to a post about back passages (as suggested by Snakes in the Grass), mainly because I have not had enough time to research the topic this week. That doesn’t mean to say that I won’t find time in the next few weeks to cover such and interesting subject…

Lack of time has been something of an issue for me over the last couple of weeks. Why does life always have a way of throwing everything at you at once and then expecting you to deal with it without breaking a sweat? Why doesn’t life just pace itself a little more sedately so that I don’t feel as though I am running around like a dog chasing its tail?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not whinging that my life has become hectic of late, far from it in fact. I interviewed for a position last month that I had always aspired to but had never been able to attain. I gave it my best shot but returned home doubtful that I would be the successful candidate who got offered the role.

Well knock me down with a feather, I only went and got the job!

Believe me, no one was more surprised than I was to hear that I’d beaten the other applicants (through a mixture of sabotage and sticking pins in their effigies) to the job of my dreams. Not only was it a role that I had always wanted, it also meant a hefty wage increase and the chance of a company car later this year.

I’ve been walking around with my head in the clouds as far as the new position is concerned, but it has also meant that I’ve been extremely busy as I prepare to transition from my current role into one that is going to no doubt be a steep learning curve for me. My superiors have shown faith in me and now is the time to repay that.

work-hardAs well as working out my notice in my current role, I am also in the process of enrolling myself in courses for the qualifications I will need in my new position. All in all, it’s been a hectic few weeks…

Far be it for Heather B Costa to do things by halves, I’ve also had to deal with two new additions to the family: my mother’s new dog, Barney and my cousin’s newborn daughter, Chloe.

Barney is a King Charles Cavalier puppy who loves nothing more than chewing anything he can get his tiny little mouth on. He’s only a little guy, but he already has the heart and courage of a dog ten times his size. Barney often gets put in his place by my mother’s other dog Tig, but the little rascal will shake it off and then come back for more. Tig, it seems, can’t be bothered to put up much of a fight anymore and often lets Barney get on his bed with him during the day, either that or the little tyke has wormed his way into Tig’s affections too…

nappy-420x0Chloe arrived almost two weeks ago now and is the most gorgeous bundle of joy. She loves nothing more than a good cuddle and fell asleep on me the first time I held her. I have to admit that this is a marked improvement on when I first held Molly and Connor (they both screamed their heads off). I am taking it as a compliment that Chloe neither cried, threw up on me or pooped in her nappy when I held her – these are all good signs for when I come to babysit her in the coming months.

Barney and my sister Louise

Barney and my sister Louise

So I have a new job role to contend with, a new puppy and a new baby in the family, so if I miss a Friday post every now and again it will be due to one of three factors: I’m snowed under with my training, I’m clearing up puppy poo when visiting my mother, or I’m being thrown up on by a newborn baby. I see late nights, puppy training pads and wet wipes in my near future…

Kate Loveton once likened me to the Duracell Bunny and I have a feeling that I’m going to need to find some extra energy from somewhere in these next few months….

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Thoughts for Friday – 20th February 2015

Plans For British Airways And Iberia Merger Are AnnouncedSpurred on by writing about my upcoming trip to the States last week, I’ve spent many long hours looking for my flight tickets to actually get me over the other side of the pond and back again. ‘This will be easy,’ I laughed as I typed ‘Cheap Flights’ into Google.

What came out of the results astounded me. More than that, I think the fright took at least three years off of my life.

The first sites I clicked on promised me ‘the cheapest flights anywhere’. Having seen their idea of cheap, I hate to think what they’d class as expensive. The first couple of comparison sites offered me a best price of around £800 and that was just for ONE WAY. Even more alarming, the flight durations ranged from 18 to 48 hours. One assumes that some kind of hand-reared bird of flight would be my mode of transport for a flight to last such a long time, but on closer inspection it became apparent that I would be expected to fly from London Heathrow to Berlin International Airport, Germany, and then get a connecting flight after a stop over of anything between 12 and 36 hours.th_77

Considering that London is, geographically speaking, closer to the USA than Berlin is, why on earth would I get a flight a good few hundred miles in the wrong direction just to come back the other way again? The quoted airline is some sort of Icelandic-based company and, based on how they charter and schedule their flights, one can quite easily see how their banks went bust several years ago. Perhaps all that ice and snow went to their heads…

Now I am the first to admit that I am a woman of limited means (hence my post on gambling last week), and so I began to feel the very real fear that even just purchasing the flight tickets to the States would all but wipe out my cash reserves. ‘Crap,’ I thought, as I began to think of ways to gently break it to Kate that perhaps I wouldn’t be able to come visit after all…

Call it divine intervention (I prefer to believe it my own supreme intellect), I came across the idea of cutting out the middle man and going straight for the horses mouth (get me with my snazzy metaphors). Armed with a shaky amount of confidence and only a smallish pot of money to play with, I entered my preferred flight plans into the British Airways website.

british-airways-boarding-pass-novelty-ticketMuch to my relief, I found a number of options to fly from London Heathrow to Baltimore International with no stop overs and only a seven and a half hour flight time. ‘Success!’, I thought, relieved to see that the prices were much more reasonable. Not only that, if I timed my flights correctly, I could save myself hundreds of pounds on the cost of my flights.

It was at this point that I began to get a little confused.

Depending on which day I traveled, the difference in prices for flights shot up by hundreds of pounds, and in one instance, shot up by nearly £1000. One would logically assume that flying in during the weekend would be more expensive (as that is when most folks prefer to travel) and that a mid-week flight would be cheaper. According to the BA website, apparently it is not only the day of the week in which you travel, but also the week in the month that you travel.

th_66Confused yet? So was I.

I tried to view the prices logically, I even squinted and turned my head this way and that, and still I couldn’t make any sense of it. Knowing that it would cost me hundreds more to fly in at the weekend, I shot an email off to the lovely Ms Loveton and demanded a swifty response (‘demanded’ is too strong a word, ‘panicked pleading’ would be a better description) as there were only two seats on the outbound flight at a decent price left. Being the wonderful woman that she is, Kate agreed to my slight amendment to our schedule (hey, she must REALLY want me to come visit!)

Schedule agreed, I began the process of reserving my place and purchasing my tickets. Want to know what happened next?

Well, you’ll have to come back next week to find out….

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What the Heck is Boxing Day?

Happy Boxing Day, everyone! This is Kate Loveton from Odyssey of a Novice Writer filling in for the lovely Heather B. Costa, who is still celebrating Christmas.

Heather, good pal that she is, asked if I might consider guest blogging on her site today. Being a shy, retiring personality who always tries to avoid the spotlight, I answered: “YOU BETCHA!” (That’s Sarah Palin-speak for “Sure, I’d love to!”)

When I asked her why she wanted to temporarily hand over the keys to the kingdom to yours truly, she replied, “Because Friday is Boxing Day and I’ll be too busy celebrating to update my weekly ‘Friday Thoughts’ feature.”

Boxing Day? Okay, as a Yank, I just gotta ask: what the heck is Boxing Day?

I’d be lying to you if I didn’t admit that when Heather uttered those words, I immediately imagined Muhammad Ali duking it out with a foe in Madison Square Garden. It got me to wondering about Heather’s family… were their celebrations more rambunctious than I’d originally assumed?

In spite of her tales of rods and balls and female plastic dolls afflicted with nymphomania, I never figured Heather as a devotee of pugilistic pursuits. When I asked her about this, she assured me she hadn’t developed a sudden interest in watching sweaty men in satin shorts settling matters with their fists.

HEAVYWEIGHT ALI FRAZIER

So what gives? In the United States, we don’t celebrate Boxing Day. The dayKing-George-III after Christmas, if it falls on a weekday, is one in which we reluctantly return to work (hung over and brimming with less than good cheer). But in Britain, December 26th is a national holiday. The idea of an extra day off makes me jealous. I tried to tell Tom Jefferson that fighting that war against King George III would bite us in the butt one day. But did he listen? Nah! And this is why I have to go to work on December 26th and Heather gets to celebrate.

Aside from the good sense of the British people to grant themselves an extra day for celebration after Christmas, just what is the purpose of Boxing Day? Is it similar to the day after Christmas in America? That’s the day when all self-respecting Americans assemble at the crack of dawn to break down the doors of Macy’s and other well-known department stores in a quest to unload (um… exchange) Christmas gifts that no one in their right mind would want. We gather up the boxes from Aunt Mary and Uncle James, not to mention those from friends who should know better, and head for the exchange counters. Forgive me if this sounds crass. After all, it’s the thought that counts… not the actual gift. Right?

Well, maybe if you’re a character out of a Hallmark Movie! The rest of usalt-am482 know better. Seriously, how many pairs of mittens does one woman need? How many sweatshirts with sequined red-nosed reindeers? And – Lord have mercy! – how many cute headbands with antlers that flash bright red and green? (Guess I’ve just given away that my family is Red Neck Proud – you ought to see our trailer! It features a bare-assed Santa trying to shimmy down a fake chimney. What we lack in class, we make up for in creativity.)

Anyway, during our last Skype session, I asked my very proper British friend if Boxing Day was possibly just a ‘dump the junk’ holiday. Heather frowned and shook her head.

In spite of my pleas, she refused to enlighten me, telling me to “do your Mean teacherhomework and figure it out yourself!” There are times when Heather reminds me of my 5th grade teacher, Elsie Gudenhoeffer. “If you don’t know something, Katie, look it up! That’s what the Good Lord gave you a brain for.” I never did like Elsie Gudenhoeffer.

But I do like Heather, and so I got down on bended knee and called upon the God of All Earthly Knowledge.

GOOGLE.

He (it?) did not let me down.

What I learned is that Boxing Day is a holiday that in one form or another440px-Good_King_Wenceslas_10a has been observed since the Middle Ages. I also learned that December 26th was the day that the Feast of Saint Stephen was observed by the pious. Remember the old carol about Good King Wenceslas? According to the carol, Wenceslas went out into the harsh winter weather to give alms to a poor peasant during the feast of Saint Stephen. I guess that’s what made him ‘good.’ Unlike me, he didn’t sit around after a huge feast, have a beer and watch some football (that’s soccer to you Brits). Nope, he went out in a blizzard to give aid and comfort to the poor. And now he has a dandy carol in his honor. Well done on him, I say!

If you’re wondering who Saint Stephen was, he was one of the early Christian martyrs. Charged by the early Church fathers with caring for widows and orphans, Stephen was stoned to death for his devotion to Christ.

One theory concerning the origins of Boxing Day has it that churches used to annually collect boxes of clothing and coin for the poor, and that the boxes were not to be distributed until the Feast of Saint Stephen.

As time passed, the custom changed, giving way to rewards of cash rendered to servants by their employers for good service throughout the year. I read that those of equal class exchanged presents on Christmas Day; but the lower classes received their presents from their employers the day after Christmas.

Interesting, huh? But here’s something else. After some time had passed, the holiday morphed from one of giving care to the poor into something called a Bank Holiday, meaning banks and most offices are officially closed.

And what do the Brits do on this holiday? Well, Heather would have me believe they drink tea, eat toast covered with marmite and celebrate the holiday with friends and family. Sounds pretty darned genteel, doesn’t it?

What Heather doesn’t know is that I found a photo that illustrates that the crafty Brits aren’t so different from their crazed American cousins on the day after Christmas.

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Aw… this London photo almost looks like home.  If I didn’t’ know better, I might think this was the Super Wal-Mart about five miles up the road from our trailer park!  See, folks aren’t really all that different no matter where they live. The only difference between Brits and Americans is that Brits speak a lot prettier.  Okay, yes, they are better dressed – and  they are much more polite. But when it comes to duking it out in the department stores, I’d say our proper cousins from across the pond can give as good as they get!

Take that, Muhammad Ali!

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48 Comments

Filed under Silly Stuff, Thoughts for Friday

Spinning Plates

I’ve been described as an Energizer Bunny (thanks Kate Loveton!), highly caffeinated (yes, I’m looking at you, Chris Musgrave….) and a whole host of other adjectives in between, but I guess the point they’re all trying to make is that I like to have a lot on my plate at any one time.

Just another day at the office for Heather B. Costa....

Just another day at the office for Heather B. Costa….

Instructions: Remove cup and replace with mouth.

Instructions: Remove cup and replace with mouth.

It’s certainly nothing to do with short attention spans (I certainly hope not, anyway!), or getting bored with a project easily, it’s more to do with the fact that I like to keep myself as busy as I can for as long as I can.

I’ve already been felled by the flu this year and picked up a nasty cold only a few weeks ago, many would say that I’m pushing myself too hard and ultimately making myself ill. While there may be some truth to their words, I simply cannot sit still and do nothing.

‘The Devil makes work for idle hands.’

devil

If I’m not neck-deep in a project I often find my mind wandering to places that will invariably lead me to trouble of some sort – just ask poor Kate Loveton!

Kate will often get a healthy dose of sledging over the latest standings in the MLB East Division standings when I find myself at a loose end. Granted, I don’t really understand the rules of baseball all that much, I just know it’s a good thing when the Orioles lose and my beloved Yankees win!

Kate, your Orioles couldn't hit one of these things even if it was the size of a basketball!

Kate, your Orioles couldn’t hit one of these things even if it was the size of a basketball!

As much as I would like to pass myself off as a po-faced and serious writer, beneath all my earnest meanderings is an infantile sense of humour and a love of the double-entendre. I’ve lost count of the number of times that I’ve leaped on an innocent comment and shot back with some sort of ribald retort. I just can’t help myself; I’m discovering the adolescence that I lost all those years ago.

The best way to keep myself and my childish fingers out of trouble is to concentrate my efforts on something a little more serious and high-brow – that way I don’t find myself apologising for inadvertently upsetting someone with what I intended as a humorous remark.

I do this by taking on a number of projects all at once, such as the fact that I’ve recently received a hefty promotion at work, moved home, and won the much-coveted position of being Don Charisma’s intern. That’s a lot of plates to spin at the same time and I haven’t even mentioned the fact that I’ve been writing a series of posts on the subject of moving home, taking part in a flash fiction competition while also trying to work on my hotly anticipated debut novel…..

Like all respected writers, I do it by candlelight....

Like all respected writers, I do it by candlelight….

Some may call me foolhardy, others may admonish me for taking on too much, while others may shake their heads and label me a glutton for punishment. At the end of the day, I like to keep busy and constantly be on the go as it keeps my mind from turning to something negative to myself or slightly naughty toward others.

Writing is damned hard work and it seems logical that you’ve got to put yourself out there, put in the hard yards and hopefully reap the benefits of it afterwards (if you haven’t had a coronary by that point, that is). So here’s my attempt at slogging my guts out, trying to make even the smallest of dents in the writing world and keeping my euphemistically inclined fingers out of trouble.

Trust me, your Twitter feed will thank you for it.

34 Comments

Filed under Silly Stuff

More Awards!

versatileblogger113

I just wanted to mention that I have been nominated three more times for the ‘Versatile Blogger’ award and would very much like to thank Kate@ Odyssey of a Novice Writer, Mishka Jenkins@ A Writer’s Life for Me and Audrey@ Oldest Daughter Redheaded Sister for very kindly nominating me.

As I have already completed the acceptance process once, I will be passing on nominating other bloggers. All of the people that I follow should be aware that I think their blogs are great! 🙂

10 Comments

Filed under Starting out