Friday, July 31, 2009


I was wondering why I like Canada so much. I think it is because you don’t have to do anything to be experiencing it. It has galleries and museums and sights and cities, but you can actually just be driving along and be struck by its beauty and immenseness. It is a country where you don’t have to be doing things to be experiencing it. It is a country where you can just “be”.

Anyway, it’s my birthday today. Happy birthday to me. I am having lunch with a couple of old work colleagues and am going out for dinner with G tonight (although somehow I did end up booking that myself…). Anyway, happy birthday to me.

Thursday, July 30, 2009


I got my payslip yesterday. They had sorted out the problem last month, so that is fine. But this time they failed to give me my pay rise. I am still paid as I if I work for the organisation that I am on secondment from and so I was due a pay rise this month. The new organisation didn’t seem to know this and so I didn’t get it. They are looking into it...

I saw someone from my old team yesterday. She was in a meeting and I went to wave to her when I realised that it was a meeting of all of my old team. They beckoned me into the room and so I caught up with them all for a few minutes. I told them about my holiday and one person asked if I had seen a bear. I said I hadn’t. Someone asked if I had seen a Mountie. I said I hadn’t. I told them that until then I thought I’d had a great holiday, but thanks to them had now concluded that it was rubbish.

There are some people that I dislike in life:

People who jam photocopiers and then scurry off without dealing with it or even reporting it.
People who take up too much space on the tube by spreading themselves across as many seats as possible. (Incidentally, the tube seems remarkably busy during rush hour, even though it is the school holidays.)
People who see you press the button to call the lift and then go and do the same thing right after you. Let me tell you, it doesn’t make the lift come any quicker, but it might make me kill you. (I feel quite strongly about this it seems.)

I think there are more people than this, but I shall leave it at that for now.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


I had a remarkably peaceful return to work. No-one else was in, so I just went through my e-mails and got on with my work. This was a rather more relaxed day than I had envisaged because I had thought there might be a massive pile of work waiting for me. More people should be in today, so I am hoping that it doesn’t turn up today instead...

Although I did have a relaxing day, I had a ranty evening. I have pretty much reached the end of my tether with John Lewis. I went to John Lewis on Oxford Street yesterday because that is how I have now been advised to get the refund on the SatNav. I was unimpressed with them and that is the day after they scratched my kitchen floor. So I have now written to them and explained how rubbish they have been over the last three years. I also wrote a couple of other complaint letters about some other issues e.g. Avis being rubbish about allowing an additional driver. I am like Jeremy Paxman complaining about the quality of M&S underpants. G is worried that I am going to be even worse, when I get older (and I get a year older on Friday so this may happen soon...).

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


It’s back to work today *sigh*. I am glad I took yesterday off because I felt really tired all day and don’t think I could have coped with being at work. The new washing machine was delivered and that all works fine, but after they had installed it and left I realised they had damaged my kitchen floor. So I phoned John Lewis and they are going to give me some compensation for it. I also phoned the branch of John Lewis that I bought the SatNav from to find out what was happening about the refund and after being passed to various people the conclusion was that the only way to get the money back was to go back to the branch in person and they would then sort it out. I did explain to them that this was different to the advice I had previously been given and, seeing as they had all my personal details, they could have phoned to tell me. So John Lewis is in my bad books once again.

The SatNav proved totally invaluable while we were away, so I am glad I got it. We would never have made it to various places had we not had it. Even navigating our way back to the airport in Montreal was a bit of a trial, so it saved many arguments! When we were in New Brunswick, we did get very lost on a walk, which was because we took a slightly wrong turn. As we walked on and on, knowing that the walk should only have taken an hour and a half and had taken three hours so far, I turned on the SatNav to see if I could vaguely locate where we were. It showed that we were in the middle of nowhere and quite a long way from the road. I am not sure that this information was comforting, but it did perhaps at least help me to confirm to myself that we were very lost – and without any food and very low on water. Some four hours after we started the walk I finally made it back to the car and then went and collected G who I had left further back due to G being in pain etc due to some nasty mosquito bites obtained in Nova Scotia. I have never been so glad to make it back to the car...

Monday, July 27, 2009


So, we made it back from our holiday in one piece. It was such a good holiday and we covered just over 2000 miles (and I actually did all the driving because Avis messed up the stuff on the additional driver).

I won’t go into massive detail now, but we went to Montreal first and really liked that, but it then paled by comparison to everywhere else we went and each time we went somewhere we liked it more than the last place we had been. I think of all the places we stayed we liked Shediac, which is in the south east of New Brunswick the best. It was a nice place to stay and we got to go to two other provinces while we were there – Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia. I was surprised by how French speaking a lot of places were, but fortunately most people were also fluent in English.

Canada is such a vast and beautiful country and we saw just a tiny part of it. We now have a plan to try and see all the other provinces we have never been to. This trip we covered (parts of) Quebec, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia (and technically we went to Ontario because we flew via Ottawa, but I guess that doesn’t really count. We’ve both been to Ontario anyway though).

Some highlights:

Driving through such a vast land and seeing such beautiful sights.
Driving across the Confederation Bridge to Prince Edward Island (except for the massive toll to get back!).
Listening to The Proclaimers whilst driving through Nova Scotia!
Eating Sugar Pie, which must be the most unhealthy, but incredibly, delicious dessert ever.
Staying in a really nice B&B in Shediac run by a Parisian couple. It was just such a relaxing time and the woman was just so hospitable.

Some lowlights:

Getting very lost on a walk in Fundy National Park. There were some rather worrying moments on that walk, but we made it back in the end…
G being really sick one evening, for some unknown reason.

It was a great, great holiday and seemed to last much longer than two weeks. I am hoping my jetlag doesn’t last quite so long...

Friday, July 10, 2009


I phoned my credit card company to see if they could explain exactly what caused the ‘alert’ on my card. They were useless.

Me: So can you explain what the alert was?
Credit card man: It was triggered by unusual activity.
Me: What was the unusual activity?
CC Man: I can’t tell you that, it doesn’t say on your records.
Me: Ok, well what transaction caused it to happen?
CC Man: I can’t tell you because there were a few transactions around that time.
Me: Right, so what is ‘unusual activity’ because what is unusual to you might not be unusual for me? If I could understand what caused it then you might not block it like that again if I could discuss it with someone.
CC Man: I can’t tell you that. The security department deal with alerts.
Me: Can I speak to the security department?
CC Man: No.
Me: Why not?
CC Man: Well it is a computer generated alert, so speaking to them wouldn’t stop alerts in future.
Me: So, you can’t explain anything about the problem and I am not allowed to speak to anyone that can.

This is just a mere snippet of the conversation. I wasn’t being stroppy, I was just trying to prevent it happening again because trying to pay for a meal in a restaurant to find your card has been blocked is not very helpful.

Anyway, tomorrow I’m off to Canada for a couple of weeks. We’re spending some time in Montreal, Southern Quebec, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia. Marvellous.

Thursday, July 09, 2009


It turns out my parents are back from their holiday. This means I have managed to get my washing done! I did three loads, which is good but also bad, in that I don’t really have the space to hang up three loads of washing in one go, but details, details…

Yesterday morning I went to put my shoes on and realised that they had a massive hole in them. I feel as though many things need replacing at the moment and I don’t have time to sort them out. These last few days before going to Canada seemed to be filled with sorting out various last minute problems. Hopefully, all will be well by Saturday though.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009


Having been very organised for going to Canada, things are starting to unravel. First, the washing machine broke. So I still haven’t managed to do any washing, although I have now bought some extra socks.

Next, I tried to transfer some money to G and the payment was rejected.

Then, I was buying a new washing machine on the phone and my credit card didn’t work properly. They had to phone me back and then it did finally go through.

Next, on the way home from work I got absolutely drenched because I managed to pick the time to leave work that coincided that with the heavens opening. I nearly had to build an ark.

Finally, we went out for dinner and my credit card got blocked again. The restaurant couldn’t get it unblocked, so G had to pay cash. I phoned my credit card company but they had closed for the evening. I will have to phone them today and find out what is going on.

I feel as though the world (the *whole* world) is conspiring against me to prevent me from going to Canada. This does, of course, work on the premise that the whole world revolves around me. I think that is fair enough.

In other news, one of my colleagues wanted to do her own personal tribute to Michael Jackson by moonwalking her way out of the office at the end of the day. She did slip in Tesco at lunch time though, with her Michael Jackson OK tribute magazine in her hand, and decided that was as close to a moonwalk as she wanted to get for one day.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009


The washing machine appears to be terminal. Whatever temperature I try to run it at, it runs at what must be over 100 degrees. I know it must be over 100 degrees because it has a 95 degrees programme, so it must be safe to operate at that temperature, but whatever temperature it ran at on Sunday managed to partially melt the soap dispenser drawer. That is rather hot. So I am going to buy a new one and arrange for it to be delivered when we get back from holiday. This therefore means a trip to the launderette (if we can summon up the energy for that) and the purchase of some new clothes. I am not terribly impressed by this, as the washing machine is only a couple of years old. I should have gone with John Lewis when I bought it. Although I haven’t actually heard back from them about my refund for the sat nav, so perhaps I have too much confidence in them.

I am reading The Plague by Albert Camus at the moment, which is a good read. If I were the sort to be paranoid, I would wonder if it was a lesson in how things could go with swine flu - and let me tell you it is not a good place from what I can tell based on the first 185 pages of the book.

My colleagues with suspected swine flu came back to work yesterday and seemed totally fine. Apart from now having a fear of apple sauce – and she did also cry when someone ate a bacon sandwich. But apart from that she is perfectly fine.

Monday, July 06, 2009


We went up to Nottingham for the weekend for a baby naming ceremony. That was good and various people gave readings that they had chosen and we then ate lots of food. There were some rather nice cakes and I had a good sample of each of them.

We used the sat nav to get there, which was fine, except that it ran out of power about a mile before our destination, which was not great timing. I did have the cable to charge it in the car, but that then had to be sorted out so that we could find where to go. On Saturday morning I looked on the John Lewis website and the sat nav I bought had gone down in price by £20. So I phoned then before we set off and I asked if I could have the £20 difference back. It seems they will refund it to me, which is a bit of a result.

The washing machine seems to be doing odd things – and just in time for us to go on holiday, when we want to do lots of washing. First of all it wouldn’t work and then it was doing the washing at a really high temperature, even though it was only meant to be a doing a 40 degree wash. I don’t think this improved the clothes that were in the machine. We may just have to resort to buying some new, and therefore, clean stuff...

Friday, July 03, 2009


On the way into work yesterday morning, someone pulled the emergency alarm on the tube. One of the things that can really irritate me about people is how they react in those circumstances. When the alarm went off, a number of people tutted and loudly sighed, as though the activation of the alarm was merely to inconvenience them. Admittedly, sometimes alarms are activated maliciously, but the vast majority of times, it is because someone needs help of some sort. Sometimes I want to ask my fellow commuters if they would find it so inconvenient if it was them who needed help and someone pulled the alarm. I sometimes think that we are so busy operating in our own little words, with our noses buried in books or listening to i-Pods or talking loudly on our mobile phones, that admitting that other people actually need to share the same space as us is beyond our comprehension. Don’t get me wrong, I am not an entirely cheerful commuter and have no wish to strike up a conversation with my fellow commuters, but I do think that we should be a bit more generous spirited at times.

Then on the way home last night, I was walking to the station and saw a cyclist collide with a tourist who stepped into the road without looking. The cyclist was just lying there in the road, so I went over to her (as had a couple of other people) and then I called an ambulance for her. By coincidence, an ambulance arrived to deal with an incident a couple of hundred yards up the road, and one of those paramedics came down to see if he could help. By then, the girl had recovered a bit and was able to speak and could sit up, but would have to keep lying down again because she was in pain. She had hit the road really hard and had struck her head and badly hurt her arm and had some nasty cuts. So I waited until the ambulance arrived and one of the other people (a stranger) went to hospital with her and I went home. She was very fortunate that there wasn’t a car coming at the time because she ended up in the middle of the road and could have ended up with much more serious injuries. I think she’ll be ok, if in a lot of pain for a while. The tourist walked away unscathed.

Thursday, July 02, 2009


So... another person where I work has swine flu. I know this because her manager broadcast it to the whole office. I sought advice from HR about the person who works for me, as I wouldn’t normally tell other people if someone was off sick because it’s their private business and I wanted to know if this should be treated differently. The advice was that it was no different to normal, unless things seriously deteriorated, and telling everyone would only cause panic. So I told the people who needed to know and that was it. The other manager sent an e-mail to the whole office to tell everyone about the other person. The two cases are entirely unconnected and there is no way they caught it from each other, as they won’t have come into contact for weeks, so I am still going to stay quiet about it. But I might be fighting a losing battle now!

I still haven’t been paid the money work owes me. I spoke to payroll about it again and they told me they had loads of queries to deal with and hadn’t got round to dealing with mine yet. I was not impressed. Strangely, I go to work with the expectation that I will be paid, so I think it is fair enough to get all of my pay.

I should be grateful that the weird chap who sits behind me has never tried this with his nail clippers (as far as I know). If he did attempt it, I might have to overcome my British reserve and ask him to desist. Or I might just wander off and make a cup of tea. I hope I will never have to be tested in this way.

Oh and, it's July already... how did that happen?

Wednesday, July 01, 2009


It was pay day yesterday and I am now being paid by the organisation where I am on secondment. They underpaid me by about £300. I phoned them to try and find out where the rest of the money is. They are looking into it…

One of my team phoned me yesterday to say that she might have swine flu. She has just got back from holiday in the US and had felt unwell the whole time she was away. She came back and tried to make an appointment with the doctor, but he refused to see her and told her that she must stay at home in ‘quarantine’ until the symptoms have passed. She was quite surprised by this, as she just thought she had a cold, but it seems her doctor doesn’t want to take any risks. I couriered some work to her yesterday, so that she can work from home. I gave her two words of wisdom, one was to handle the files with gloves on. The other was to stay out if the sun in case she turned into bacon. I have an excellent bedside manner.

Yesterday the weird chap who sits near me (the same one who was cutting his nails recently), suddenly said to his colleagues “does anyone know where I can get a man’s swimming trunks that are like a thong?”. His colleagues all went a bit quiet and they then all denied any knowledge of where to buy such a thing. I think they would have to be quite brave to be the one to say “Well, where I normally buy mine is…”.