Friday, 29 November 2013

Christmas, Love it or Loathe it?

Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat...

And I am getting grumpy.

I am not a fan of Christmas and haven't been for years.  I loved it as a child, making paper chains, covering the house, and the dog, in glitter, glitter which you were still emptying out of the vacuum cleaner at Easter, putting the tree up, putting the cards up, I even enjoyed wrapping presents.

But as I got older I started enjoying it less and less.  And any enjoyment I still had was knocked out of me by four Christmases working in retail.

As I was single and childless, I was obviously available to do every late night.  Occasionally, the late nights were planned ahead, but a lot of the time we would be informed on the 5pm regional conference call that we had to stay open until 10pm because M&S were, or Next were.  A 10pm close meant the earliest we would be out would be 10.30pm.  Being a manager I was paid for 40 hours regardless of whether I worked 40 hours or 140 hours.

Because of the hours I was working in the run up to Christmas culminating in a late night finish Christmas Eve to get ready for the Boxing Day sale, and an extra early start Boxing Day, I used to spend most of Christmas Day asleep, going to Mum and Dad's to open presents and eat lunch and then back home again. 

Mum and Dad started going to Germany for Christmas and did this for a couple of years.  The first year I spent Christmas Day with a pizza and the telly, the next year I went to a friend's house.  

I have been away for Christmas too, but I went to Spain, but it really is expensive to go.

There are adverts every Christmas reminding us to think of the old people whose only company will be the television, it's not only the older generation who can be alone.  In the past I have gone nearly a fortnight without speaking to anyone.  This was after I had been made redundant, Mum and Dad had gone on holiday on the Saturday, I had to attend the Job Centre on the Monday and I didn't see or speak to anyone then until Mum and Dad got back.

Even now, other than work and college I don't see anyone other than a couple of times a year.

I do think Christmas is for families and groups.  As a single person you do feel very left out.  I said last year that I did not want to spend this Christmas as a single person like I have all my previous 41 Christmases and New Years.  But I am.

I have volunteered to work this year, if I am going to be alone, I may as well be alone in the office using their heating and lighting as using mine!

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Sunday Night Mash Up

This week I have been in Birmingham again on the second of my revision courses for ACCA.  It was a four day course this time and I felt so drained at the end.

Tomorrow I have a Question Based Day (QBD) in preparation of next Monday's exam.  I don't really rate the QBDs but they are included in my course fee so I go.  On a QBD you sit an exam, but you do it question by question to exam timing.

You do the first question, that is then whisked away for marking whilst you complete the second.  You then get the marked papers for the first question back and then do the third, and so on.

Now in an exam, you can do the questions in any order, in fact this is encouraged.  So you choose your strongest topics and work down to your weakest.  In a QBD if you can't answer a particular question, there is no coming back to it, you just sit there panicing!.

Because I have been in Birmingham, nothing much else has gone on.

Apart from last night was the much awaited and much hyped Day Of The Doctor.  And I was a bit disappointed.  It seemed such an opportunity lost.  And, spoilers sweetie, why was it that John Hurt's Doctor appeared to be regenerating?  Wouldn't he already have done that?  Surely it should have been Matt Smith who changed?

This week, apart from tomorrow, I am back at work so normal service resumes.  Tuesday is weigh in number 3 for the Pounds for Pounds charity weight loss, I am not expecting a weight loss this week, I will be happy with staying the same as last week!

Silent Sunday - 24/11/13

Friday, 22 November 2013

The Consort Hotel, Wymondham, Norfolk.

I have posted about this hotel before on a couple of occasions.  I have now stayed on three separate occasions, once with the previous owners and twice with the current owners.

The first time I stayed I received entry codes a couple of days before my booking.  I had a single room and I loved it, it was on the first floor and so very quiet.  The hotel did not have a full time staff, just part time for breakfast and cleaning/preparing the rooms. It wasn't a problem, the room was spotless and the breakfast fantastic.  

A year later I stayed for the second time, the hotel had now been taken over.  Reception was now covered until 10pm every day. The breakfast room was now leased out to an independent restaurant The Marrakesh and so breakfast, if booked, was served in the bar area.

On this visit, I had again booked a single room but was upgraded to a double.  There was a huge bed, two seater settee and a single chair, two tables, wardrobe and chest of drawers, a television bigger than the one in my living room, and the usual tea and coffee making facilities.  This time I was on the second floor which was even more quiet.

The third visit was definitely not the charm.

Having left the house at 10.30am I finally arrived just after 4pm, it's a long journey from home involving three trains, two tube journeys and a walk up the hill to the hotel.  The receptionist was talking to a man in the lounge so I waited until she came back to the desk.  

I asked to check in and she told me that the man who had had the room before me always leaves his case in the room and then comes back later for it, according to their website, check out is 11am, so why he is allowed to leave his case in the room until it suits him I don't know.  She said that she would check whether he had done this.

There was a young man at the reception with her and he opened up the laptop in front of him, he clicked a few buttons and brought up a picture of a room 

"This room?" he asked the receptionist, "Yes", she replied "I can't see his case, I will have to go and check".  So evidently this was a live feed which meant that THERE WERE CAMERAS IN THE BEDROOMS!!!  Is this not illegal?

This time the room I was given was on the ground floor, the wall behind my headboard was the wall of the bar lounge.

I was informed that there was a party booked into the bar but "as I always go out" it won't be a problem.  I think always go out is a bit of a stretch.  The last time I stayed here I didn't go any further than the local co-op to get sandwiches, wine and chocolate the first night, the second night I had been to a 4 year old's birthday party and was back by 8pm absolutely exhausted!

The party itself wasn't an issue to begin with, despite it being held just the other side of the wall, it was nothing really more than a murmur.  Unfortunately, my room was right by the back door and the favoured area for the smokers to stand to smoke and continue the party.

At 10.20pm the music suddenly ramped up, I am guessing the receptionist had left.  This went on until just after 11pm.

I then had nearly two hours of the hoover being bashed against the wall and heavy wooden furniture being dragged around to ready the room for breakfast.

The next night I was out at a party so I had no idea if anything had gone on.

Unfortunately for such a large town, there are only two hotels, the other one being disgusting by all accounts (I know people who have stayed there) so my options for my next visit are to stay here again, cameras and all, or pay twice the price to stay in Norwich and then have to pay for a taxi (about a 20 minute drive) after the party.

I need to think about this.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Lose a Stone for Christmas/Pounds for Pounds

This week saw the second weigh in of the Pounds for Pounds challenge at work.  Unfortunately, I am not at work this week as I am in Birmingham on revision courses for my ACCA exams next month

I did weigh in at home, and although the scales seem to weigh different to those at work, the overall weightloss should be the same, so that is what I am going with.  I will be back at work for next Tuesday's weigh in, so I will be back to accurate figures.

This week, according to my scales, I have lost 1.5lbs and I am pleased with this.  Hopefully it means that I have broken my usual diet/fail cycle.

Onwards and upwards!

Goal: 14lbs
Lost this week: 1.5lbs
Total lost: 7.5lbs
Still to lose: 6.5lbs

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Sunday Night Mash Up

This week has seen me in Birmingham on a revision course for one of my forthcoming ACCA exams and it was hard going.  I have another revision course this coming week and 2 weeks on Monday is my first exam of this sitting!  Oh, poo.

The Birmingham Christmas Market has opened this week too which makes getting to the train station fun.  You know that scene in every zombie movie ever where there are 100s of zombies stumbling along and one or two humans are trying to blend in? That's how I have felt.

I wasn't actually trying to blend in, but I physically could not move any faster than a shuffle and I was penned in on every side.  It was not fun.  I eventually managed to nip down a side street and away from the crowd.

Only five more evenings to get through, I will try not to kill anyone.

I have to say though, although the market is called the Frankfurt market, I did not hear one German accent, or see one German registered vehicle.

There was a Belgian Hot Chocolate van, noodle bars, falafal, stalls selling ostrich burgers, jerk chicken, none of which I believe are German.

The beer stalls were doing good business, I do think it is the novelty of being able to walk around with a pint in their hands that was attracting people, it certainly wasn't the price.

Majority of the craft stalls looked like they had all gone to the same warehouse to fill up.

I imagine that it would nice to walk around with friends, and stop now and then for a drink or something to eat, but when I am on my own and it is between me and home I have to say I am not impressed.

Silent Sunday - 17/11/13

Friday, 15 November 2013

Why do you watch your favourite shows? The story, the scenery or the eye candy?

We were having a discussion at work the other day about shows that we watch and people seemed surprised that I watch Downton Abbey as there is not as much murder, science or weirdness as in my usual fare.

And it got me thinking, why do we watch certain shows and films and shun other popular offerings.

I do not watch any of the so-called reality shows, reality is a camera on me sitting on the sofa, eating biscuits, scratching myself and burping; living in a jungle being paid a lot of money to attempt pre-approved tasks is, in my opinion, really not reality.  And now that 'celebrity' reality shows are populated by people whose only claim to fame is having been on another reality show isn't it time to end them?

I watch Downton Abbey because it is nice and easy going and I don't have to think about it too much.  And Mr Bates is pretty much a bonus (nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that he is a little bit dangerous of course).

I watch all of the Law & Order series, although Criminal Intent has dropped off my radar a bit since it all started becoming about Goren and his psychiatrist.  I like the murders and the investigations.  No eye candy here, just good coppering.

NCIS I love, again murders and science.  We do have eye candy here in the shape of Leroy Jethro Gibbs and I would love to be, and look like, Abby Sciuto.

CSI I watch, although Miami became a caricature of itself with H beginning and ending episodes in particular poses.  I fear we may be coming to the end of NY too, it seemed to have 'jumped the shark' recently when Mac Taylor doled out a Gibbs (NCIS) style head slap.  Eye candy here is in the form of Adam.

I watch The Big Bang Theory and Two Broke Girls just for the humour, they do make me laugh, which, I have to admit, is not easy.

I can watch episodes of River Monsters over and over again.  I think this partly because of the hours I used to spend fishing with Dad and Grandad when I was little (we never caught anything more than a few ounces but when you are only about 7 or 8 a fish that size can feel massive) but also because I do quite like the presenter, Jeremy Wade.

Body Of Proof is about a Medical Examiner and therefore will automatically feature at least one murdered person.  No eye candy here, but Ethan and Curtis are funny.

Criminal Minds is another show I watch for the content; murder, kidnappings, FBI agents, what's not to love? And if I can't be Abby Sciuto (NCIS) I want to be Penelope Garcia.

New Tricks I enjoy because occasionally I remember how old I am and Dennis Waterman has an appeal to women of a certain age, probably more due to The Sweeney than anything else.

And not just Dennis Waterman, Terry Collier (James Bolam), again women of a certain age.

There are productions, mostly films, that I watch because of someone in them.  After seeing Oliver Platt in The Three Musketeers I started collecting copies of every film he had been in, I also watched The West Wing and The Big C, neither of which I properly got into.

Brendan Fraser is another actor whose films I always watch, less for his acting I have to admit.

What do you watch, and why?

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Lose a stone by Christmas, Reset.

I have been trying to lose weight with a group of fellow bloggers, and failing miserably.  However, last week at work we started Pounds for Pounds, we pay £2 each week with all money going to the onsite hospice.  It started off with just a handful of people taking part, but there are now 14 of us so we have been split into two teams.  After the final weigh in the losing team has to take the winners out for lunch.  Also, the last week's fee will be £4, half to the hospice and the rest towards a gift card for the biggest loser.

So, with this in mind, and also my dismal attempts so far, I have reset my weight to that which I weighed in on on the scales at work which was 244lbs (aaarrghhhh), my goal is still a 14lbs loss.

It was our first weigh in today, 13 of the 14 people taking part were available and between us we lost 30lbs!

I lost 6lbs which really surprised me (good old Weightwatchers), I am expecting to put some of that back on this week, but hopefully not too much of it.

As we are raising money for charity, even I fail someone will benefit.

Goal: 14lbs
Lost this week: 6lbs
Total lost: 6lbs
Still to lose: 8lbs

Friday, 8 November 2013

My Primark Haul

I don't know if it is a side effect of my medication, or whether the medication has just unleashed a part of me that was previously hidden, but I have bought more clothes in the last six months than I have in the last 10 years or so.  In fact, a few years ago I had a major clear out and was left with work clothes, an interview outfit and slobbing round the house clothes, as I never went anywhere but work I didn't need anything else.

Recently though, it seems that every time I go into town, I end up buying clothes.  I also seem to be reverting to how I dressed 20 years ago, which is a bit worrying seeing as I am now the wrong side of 40, but maybe that was the last time I was genuinely happy!  

This was today's haul, 1 dress, 2 jumpers, 1 pair leggings, 1 pair jeans and 1 skirt to go over leggings as a bit more camouflage for my bum!

They are all size 20, but the fits are different.

The jeans are labelled as skinny but are more like straight legs, I possibly could have got away with an 18 but they may have been too short in the body.

The jumpers are nicely loose, I am not Jayne Mansfield so like my jumpers slightly oversized and not fitted.

The leggings and skirt are fine, they stretch to cover a multitude of sins.

The dress, however, is too small.  It looks fine from the front when it is on, but I cannot do the zip up so that needs to go back, unfortunately I am not sure when I will be able to get into town again to return it.

I don't know when I will be wearing any of these clothes that I keep buying, but they are there in case!

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Sunday Night Mash Up

This weekend saw the final ACCA weekend of this sitting, I now just have weekday revision.

This was the smallest group of the sitting (my previous classes have been 40+ people and we have been squashed into tiny rooms) and we were in the biggest room in the building.  Admittedly due to the layout a lot of the space was wasted, but it was still a big space.

I was on the 5th floor of the hotel this weekend, the theme was orange, I have now stayed on every floor except the 1st which I think is mostly conference rooms anyway.  I am not sure why thread is to be associated with Birmingham, I would link it more with the weavers of Coventry.

The beanbag chair in the corner was very uncomfortable.

I am going to be at a loose end at the weekends now and will have to find something to occupy them.  I may even have to do some housework!