Sunday, 27 November 2016

Barcelona

Wow! what  place to visit.

Hubby and I have taken advantage of the fact that we are now child free and can go away whenever we want to and thought that our 18th wedding anniversary would be a good time to start!

We looked to go to Dublin at first but then we saw that Barcelona was cheaper to go to and thought what the hell, let's do it!

I hate flying but at least this time I wasn't on my own!

Early start on the Wednesday morning saw us landing to sunny blue skies in Barcelona at lunch time and we managed to get to our hotel by about 2:30pm - we took the aerobus to Playa de Catalunya which was a 10 minute stroll to our hotel. Hotel was meant to be a 4 star one but I think you can say that it was well loved and needed a bit of TLC. However, we had a lovely spacious room on the 8th floor with a large balcony. View was of the backs of buildings but we had the La Sagrada Família as a view from the balcony and that was our first destination.

We set off to walk there - didn't look too far.

We followed one of the tourist maps and walked passed the Arc de Triomf to begin with.


We then started to try and find our way to the church! Many steps later we finally got there!




It was an amazing place to visit and I would thoroughly recommend it. It just seems to be a never ending building site though!

We strolled back through the streets and managed to find our way back to our hotel - it was the middle of November and we were in short sleeved t-shirts at 8pm- although the locals thought we were mad as they all seemed to be wrapped up!

The next day, we purchased a T10 pass - 10 journeys on bus, train or tram which can be used by multiple people and the bonus is that if you continue with your journey within 75 minutes of getting off of the transport, it still counts as one journey!

We took a bus all they way out of Barcelona to the CosmoCaixa (science museum) which was sited almost on the top of the hills you can see from the harbour. To be honest it wasn't my first choice of places to visit but hubby's boss had said it was great - no it wasn't! The best bit was the amazon rain forest bit





















Then we hopped back on the bus and stopped off here




















And then hopped back on again down to the harbour. There were some amazing boats down there - hubby googled them when we returned to the UK and one of them was £160 million!

There's a cable car that goes from the harbour up to a mountain where you can spend the day but with my fear of heights I really don't think I will ever make it!















After a wonder around the harbour we made our way back towards the hotel. We stopped off at Barcelona Cathedral which was just around the corner from the hotel. We had to queue to get in as we were going for the free entry time


As you can there was a few of us who had the same idea! It was almost dark by the time we finally got into the cathedral but it was amazing. My camera is pretty naff so I didn't get any usable photos inside apart from this one:
















The baptism font - big enough to be used as a bath! It's all locked away behind gates and is very very old indeed!

The food was great in the restaurants around where the hotel was and all in all we spent less than £400 for the 2 of us to stay for 2 nights. This was flights and hotel as well as parking and insurance.
Hubby is one never to return to places but he is keen to return and stay for longer the next time as we definitely didn't get to see everything we wanted to.

Barcelona is a beautiful city and I would recommend it to any of you to go and explore!

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

The Power of Social Media

So, Monkey has left home and joined the Army! His 17th birthday was the day we dropped him off to the Junior Soldier College in Harrogate to start his new life.
We are now 5 and a bit weeks in and get to see him at his Passing in Parade (PIP) this Friday - no I have not been counting the days!!!!!
Just before he left home, I found a parents support group on Facebook which was a closed group run by a group of ladies who have been through the rollercoaster of having their child(ren) go to the College as well. These ladies have created intake groups for several years and do all of this as volunteers - being an ex-brownie leader I know how much time this takes!
They have been amazing on what to take in addition to the kit list that the Army sends you and generally great advice all around.
They are very clear that they are not affiliated with AFC and that everything discussed on that page stays on that page - no exceptions.
This intake is their biggest support group to date - over 400 members and a further 100+ waiting for approval - and this is where the problems have begun.
People have joined the official Army Company pages and then have got confused as to which page they are on, then commented on the wrong page with information that should only be on the parent page. This has upset parents and obviously the admin - apparently if the Company admins identify who the "rebel" parents are, they then take it out on their children!
Drama galore - it has been horrible watching everyone backstabbing each other and blaming each other for what is possibly a mistake. I have to admit, that I have had to think twice a few times about which page I am on and what I should and shouldn't be posting on it, it can get very confusing.
With this many people on the closed page, it is bound to get messy, but people really don't seem to understand that the parent page is the page to air our concerns and to offer support to each other, not just complain about this, that and the other.
At the end of the day, we are all adults and we should know how to behave - some parents seem to make a drama out everything and if they don't get the support they were expecting, then flounce off saying "I'm leaving, no one understands me!" and then have lots of messages, along the lines of "oh don't leave, I'm sure it wasn't meant to be interpreted that way!"
And that is my point - we can write many a thing in our own quirky way - we may even smile as we type it, but when it is read in the cold light of social media, it often takes on a different context and then upsets the next person and the next and the next and then that snowball has suddenly multiplied a thousand times and is a massive avalanche before you know it!
Social media is very powerful - just make sure that you are qualified to use it or be prepared to deal with the fallout!


Sunday, 21 August 2016

A quandary

So, things have finally come to a head at work.

My boss has been struggling since she returned in February last year from a year off work due to breast cancer. Her consultant colleagues do not seem to have a drop of compassion in their bones - funny really when you look at the speciality they work in and the types of patients they have to deal with every day.

We have employed two new consultants - one to replace someone who has just retired and another due to the increasing workload - this takes our consultant number to 5. The agreement for the 5th consultant was that they would be part H&T - our speciality.

In reality this is not going to happen. The other 4 have had a pre-meeting prior to the official meeting yesterday and they have basically ganged up on my boss and told her that she needs to just carry on with her work. The workload is unmanageable and to top it all, we have recently lost our secretary due to the other secretaries ganging up on her because she worked for our boss who "wasn't really a haematology consultant as she doesn't do malignancy!" So, between the two of us we have also taken on secretarial work which has me working most days 12 hour shifts and at least 6 on a  Saturday - I am like a walking zombie this evening!

After yesterday's meeting, my boss just text me and said that she would be looking for a new job and was at that point looking at the commute to one of the larger hospitals not far from us.

I knew from that short text, how that meeting had gone - badly.

My boss has said that when she leaves, wherever she ends up, she will make me a part of her package - she does not want to leave me behind. That makes me feel wanted as I can see the nightmare that will await me if it is just me as the other consultants really have no idea at all about H&T and we run even more specialised clinics with pregnant women in too - I dread to think what will happen there!

However, the problem I see at both of the bigger Trusts near us, is that the already have specialist nurses who do my job - because we are a small district general, I am doing 3 roles in one - the other Trusts have a nurse (even a team of nurses) for each of my roles and I am not sure how I would fit in.

The smaller of the two Trusts is the longest commute - do I really want to either drive an 80 mile round trip 5 days per week or travel on the train for 2 hours each day? The larger of the two Trusts is where I trained and then worked for a further 13 years prior to moving to the Trust where I am now. I'm not sure I really want to go back there.

That puts me in a quandary - do I stay where I know it will be unbearable - or do I go with the boss to a new world?

Watch this space - I think it may cause some fraught discussions at home as well!!

Monday, 20 June 2016

The theatre!

My boss is very much a theatre goer - she regularly goes and she enjoys it!

Apart from the obligatory pantomimes as a child I have never really been.

She has been through a lot in the past 2 years and in November 2014 she completed her radiotherapy just as we were due to go to London for a meeting at Parliament.

When I mentioned that I had never been before, she said " let's go and watch Les Mis" it's a great one to start with.

So £135 lighter in the pocket (and that was a cheap seat) and off we went!

To say that it blew me away was an understatement - I have never seen the films, or even listened to the soundtracks before, but this was amazing. It was at the London Queen's Theatre, minimal scenery and props, and a revolving stage. I came home that night tired but blown away.

Then for Christmas that year she gave me a ticket to see Legally Blonde - the musical at our local open air theatre. It is one of the top ones in the country and seats about 550 people under very large canopies.




Again, never seen the film and had no idea about the story but that was great too.

Christmas present last year - West Side Story at the open air theatre this week and that was amazing too.





I have two more evenings booked for this year as well - beyond the barricades (have no idea) and Thoroughly Modern Milly (again no idea).

While I do enjoy theses nights out - I am starting to believe that I am nowhere near the sophisticated socialite that my boss is and really do not appreciate the theatre as much as she does - last week she went to our local large indoor theatre and watched Jane Eyre as a ballet - that is something I could never do!

As a girls night out, I would thoroughly recommend it - if you have a partner who would put up with the show, then our local outdoor theatre is situated in the grounds of a very swanky hotel and they do dinner, show and stay over packages which would make a lovely anniversary treat or just a "get away from it all" treat.

Monday, 13 June 2016

What to do with all of that spare time I now have!!

So, I now have an extra 90 minutes a week - or so the official Girlguiding UK publicity blurb would have you believe that is all is needed to run a unit each week!!

I have been busy since I stepped down as Brown Owl - I was training at the time for the half Moonwalk. I do not do exercise and I do not walk long distances! This was a challenge - especially as they had moved the starting point this year so the distance was actually 15.1 miles - not the 13.1miles that a half marathon should be.

If you have never heard of the Moonwalk this should let you know a bit more! It is a charity that has become very close to my heart over the past couple of years, following on from my boss being diagnosed with breast cancer 2 years ago. She has fought every step of the way and has been given the 18 month all-clear today, so things are looking up!

You are sent a wonderbra and you have to decorate it according to a theme - this year's was carnival. Now I am no craft person and so managed to pull together this:


A Sharpie pen around the wire, some buttons glue-gunned on and a pink feather bower glued on as well!

You are then asked to walk your distance in your bra and a pair of black leggings - that is all!!

The route left Clapham Common, went through Battersea Park, past Vauxhall, along the Thames, past Parliament and then over the river and then back along the Mall, and back along to  Clapham Common - there were many more places but that was the general route.

I probably did not train as much as I should have - but have managed to discover several reservoirs around the two counties that surround our house.

On the night, I really did not think I would make it, but with the support of the friends who agreed to walk the route with me, we made it. It took us around 6 and a half hours to walk it in total and felt like zombies at the end of it. I honestly thought I would  never be able to move again!

At the end of the walk we were presented with this:




It was worth it and I would recommend it to anyone to do as a once in a lifetime challenge - I can now say I have completed a half marathon! I will however, never be doing it again.

Give it a go, if not a half marathon, how about one of the 5K or 10K walk/runs events that Race for Life promote each year? They are just a walk in the park - simples!

Sunday, 27 March 2016

And so I am no longer an old wise bird

So, the term has passed very quickly and I find myself no longer Brown Owl!

Is it wrong that I spent the term counting how many meetings were left and how happy that made me feel?

My final night was our usual end of term awards night - we play games, sing songs, give out badges that they had worked towards, as well as award best brownie and best six.

I had spent time thinking about what I could give the leaders as farewell presents and ended up ordering mugs with their Owl names on them and a picture of an owl too. The young leaders had Nemo mugs with their Nemo names on as well.

I managed to find someone who was able to make me personalised thank you letters too - they said "thank you from Brown Owl" on them.

The night passed quickly with leftover biscuits and squash from pack holiday the weekend before and one of the other leaders made some brownie cakes for us all to have.

Some of the brownies gave me cards and presents - the best one was one from sisters that I have in the unit at the the moment which had "open with a smile" written on the back! The one that made me cry was from a mum and two daughters  - the youngest of which is currently in the unit.

Barn Owl gave me a beautiful silver trefoil broach which I shall cherish always.

The unit gave me a lovely Darlington glass vase which was tinted blue and has a trefoil on it - I put my tulips from one of the brownies in it as soon as I got home!

I feel nothing at the moment - that might be because my dining room is covered in brownie stuff waiting to be collected by the leader who is babysitting the unit for the coming term. No one has come forward to be Brown Owl which worries me, as the 2 leaders who are babysitting the unit for the coming term are very clear that they will not be able to take it on full-time - one is about to qualify as a new teacher and will be working about 45 minutes away (not in rush hour traffic) and the other is about to start a Head of Faculty job which will be full-on as well.

I have started swimming with Barn Owl - my aim is to swim each week as part of my preparations for the half Moonwalk in May. We sneak in to a "This Girl Can" session at our local pool on a Tuesday night. I say sneak in as the campaign is actually aimed at 14-40 year olds and although we don't like to admit it, we are fast heading towards our 50's!

This week when we met, I gave her a bunch of flowers and another thank you card - if it wasn't for her, I would never have gone to run the unit. She has helped me through so many challenging times and to me is an excellent role model for anybody wanting to be a guider. I wanted to give her something else besides the general presents that I gave to everyone else. I know that the flowers won't last forever, but the card was different to everyone else's and to me that made it just a little bit more personal.

The recruitment blurb for Guiding says that we only have to give 90 minutes each week - I look forward to claiming back that 90 minutes each week then!!

Goodbye for now Guiding - I think I deserve a rest after 33 years with you.






Sunday, 20 December 2015

Time to say goodbye

My Guiding spirit has finally been broken. I am at that point in my life that I need to say enough is enough and walk away.

For the past 9 years I have been Brown Owl - at times very rewarding and at others a very thankless task.

I have met some fantastic people and am proud to say that some of them have become very good friends - there are many experiences in my life that I would not have had, had it not been for Guiding.

I thought about stepping down about 18 months ago, just before I started my prescribing course, but another long-standing leader beat me to it. Since then I have only gone through the motions and now feel that it is starting to show to the girls.

I am tired - I am the only leader who turns up week after week, the others rotate through. Barn Owl has offered to cover me at times when she has seen how down I am, but I feel guilty asking her to do so, as she is busy running her Ranger unit by default and she never has any other help!

My house has cupboard, after cupboard full of brownie stuff - boxes of left over craft, cupboards of just stuff! I want my house back, I want my life back, I want someone else to take over the responsibility of running the unit.

Work hasn't helped in that I seem to be working 14 hour days at the moment and at least 5 hours each Saturday - and no there is no overtime as its the NHS and we're broke!

This time last year, we were trying to deal with the sudden death of one of our fellow Guiders - it was not her time to go, how can life be so cruel? The past couple of weeks, has seen me thinking about her a lot and maybe this hasn't helped with how I am feeling in general, but I know now is the time to say goodbye.

I hope that I will return to Guiding sometime in the future, I just know that if I don't walk away now, I will come to hate Guiding and will never return.

I have challenges for the New Year - my weight loss has never really got going, so I have persuaded a group of Guiders to help me complete the half Moonwalk in May - it's meant to be 13 miles, but because it's a new route this year, we will have to do 15 instead!! There will be 5 of us walking that night so we will have fun whatever!

So , when I finalise the program for the coming term, the email that will go out to the other leaders will also say that my last night will be the 17th March  - light the touch paper and stand back - how many of the other leaders will stay? Who will step up and run the unit? It will become interesting I can tell you!