Monthly Archives: October 2009

Work is great!

Day 3 and everything is still hunky dory in the workplace. Someone stopped by to check how I was getting on and I said fine. It’s rumoured that I will be sticking around ’til Christmas and might progress to some copy and web work plus a rise in hourly rate, woo hoo! Don’t know why I didn’t join this agency sooner, it’s been a real confidence boost. I know I can do the work but it gets really disheartening when you never get any feedback from online jobs. Still waiting to hear what is happening about my cancelled interview, the poor woman is in hospital and her boss is in another country. Pleased I feel no pressure knowing my temping is a security blanket at the mo. Am feeding my Starbucks addiction everyday as they are at the summit of the hill I climb at lunchtime to get into town. Is it bad to have coffee and sweet stuff as your vices?

grande 1 shot skinny latte x £2.35 x 5 days = £11.75 per week

Hmm, I don’t go out drinking at the weekend and don’t smoke so surely this is practically a money-saving exercise?!? Help me justify the expense, please!

First day work fun…

First day at my new temping post has been great. The American sales
manager is full of jokes and my mouth is starting to ache from all this grinning! My other colleague obviously keeps him grounded when it comes to doing some actual work. You know you have a great workplace when they nip off to wish someone happy birthday and bring you back a piece of cake by 10am, lovely mid-morning snacking!

Spent the day doing data input which was made all the more challenging due to the fact it was copying business cards written in Italian, German and Turkish to name but a few. I’m of the generation where at school, I could drop languages in my options and French was duly deleted from my curriculum. Even guessing if some of these people are male or female has been quite a challenge and don’t even get me started on the addresses!

The morning flew over and I popped into my agency to drop off my P45 (I’m doing it for the love and the money) but I managed to bring the bit I’m supposed to keep, doh! However, my agency lady did pop over to tell me that she had had a phone call this morning saying they really like me and there may be something else bubbling under the surface there. Blimey, no job success for weeks and then suddenly, I am loved. Now I think of it, I was told I would be introduced to the boss tomorrow as my interview lady  wanted him to meet me. And how’s this for a great agent? She told them I was only likely to stick around long-term for much better wages which they agreed, go temping agency go!

Starbucks just happens to be at the top of the hill I have to climb into town so it would be rude not to pay them a visit before lunchtime is over…!

Preparing for interview 1…

I was up early this morning to be ready for my interview with the company I could be temping for. I arrived with loads of time to spare as the traffic was kind to me on the way and, was prepared to face intense questioning about the organisation, having pored over their website last night. I was greeted by a lovely lady (who I assumed would be my interrogator) and she asked about my last job. As I proceeded to explain a bit about the company and my role there, it turns out my old boss used to work at this company and so they already knew everything about me!

I had never made the connection when my old boss talked about working near to where I live, but it’s a small world! Turns out my website cramming was to be untested as she explains what the role would involve and then asks me if I want to accept. I say yes and wonder if I can send a basket of ‘thank you’ muffins to my last boss, who has obviously given me a great reference (I saw it in an episode of ‘Friends’ once!)

Time off for another interview tomorrow is no problem either and I am wondering if a job quandary is about to appear in the next couple of weeks…

Jobs are like buses…

Turns out job interviews are like buses, you apply for hundreds of online jobs (I am starting to suspect some don’t even exist) without a sniff and then multiple opportunities come hurtling your way. While wondering if I should have turned down five days work at my old company, I get a phone call from the temping agency I joined last week to say a locally based events company want to see  me on Monday. At last, a breakthrough in the jobs market! Am feeling very pleased with myself and buy a one shot skinny latte at Starbucks to celebrate (any excuse, I know!) Then, this afternoon, I get another call from another agency to say I have an interview for an online job next Tuesday. I can’t believe it, I’ve had the employment cold shoulder for the last three months and now two people can see some I’m not totally rubbish!

Confidence is a funny thing, I know I am good at what I do but you do start to doubt yourself as time goes by, with no positive feedback from people with the power to employ you. Three months out of work has had its fun times but I understand why people can feel ground down over time and lose the energy or enthusiasm to keep trying. Time for a cheesey magnet quote, me thinks:

Risk more than others think is safe,

Care more than others think is wise,

Dream more than others think is practical,

Expect more than others think are possible.

I bought this in America because essentially, it’s actually quite inspiring once you get past the ‘eeeeeuuuuuwwwww’ factor. Sometimes you just need a little reminder to keep things in perspective and your goals intact (here ends this pep talk.)

Do you have a saying or a little reminder that perks you up when you are feeling down? Sometimes we just need to think about how lucky we are and something short and sweet can lift can lift your spirits, please share!

Should I be a monkey for their peanuts?

Being a lady of leisure (i.e. unemployed) is a double-edged sword. On the upside, you can sleep in ’til 9am on a weekday, have breakfast in bed while watching ‘The Wright Stuff’, visit the gym during the day when it’s less crowded and sit and write posts for your blog when the mood takes you. The downside involves living on your savings, feeling forced to be accountable for every minute of your day so that people know you actually get out of bed, fruitless job hunting and boredom. Oh and the admittedly fair assumption that you have to do all the cleaning / tidying / washing because you have so much time on your hands – yes I do have time and yes, I do hate cleaning (good job I wasn’t born in the 1950’s I tell you!)

My last job at an events company was an initial six month temporary contract which turned into 10 months with the offer of a permanent contract. Although it was a scary thought being out of work, I turned it down because they were moving offices to Central London. As a Northern girl who has only ever driven to work over the last 18 years, there is no way I am joining in with all that crowded commuter palaver and consciously adding extra hours to my work day! So, 10 weeks after leaving, I receive an email asking if I can help out at one of their events this week as they are so short-staffed. “Of course I would” I think to myself, I’ll get the chance to see old friends and colleagues as well as earn five days cash. I re-read the email and notice that the offer of covering my food and travel expenses are no problem along with a little something extra if the budget can stretch to it… Hmm, so they expect me to work for peanuts because they once paid my salary?

I ring the lovely girl who emailed and say I will consider it once I find out the daily rate – I remember from my own show that outsiders were paid £100 a day and I am willing to get over my train phobia for that. She tells me she will ring back once she knows. 20 minutes later, she tells me its £30 a day plus expenses and I say I will get back to her. A quick bit of mental totting up:

Leave house in car: 8.30am     Catch 3 tubes: arrive 10.30-11am      

Catch 3 tubes and a car ride home: arrive 10pm

___________________________________________________________________________

£30 a day

Not too difficult to work out that minimum wage is a luxury compared to this. It’s an insult, not an offer and just confirms my decision to leave the company was the best one I could have made. Before the management buyout, money was spent like water (especially on alcohol) because nobody cared who footed the bill. Everything has changed now the MD has his own and other investors money at stake, all the pennies have to be accounted for even if it means there are not enough people to run the events efficiently! I emailed the lovely girl back, the budget isn’t her decision and I could tell she felt bad for having to offer such an embarrassing sum. I decline in a polite way and wondered if any future references would be affected from this moment onwards…

Its been 12 weeks since I finished work with no money coming in. I don’t want to claim benefits because I’m sure my next job is just waiting for me round the corner. Do you think I should have taken this job to start off my Christmas fund or, do you think I was right to refuse?

The dreaded first post-holiday gym session…

To ease myself back into some sort of fitness routine, I went to water aerobics last Monday and ached enough the next day not to visit the gym for the rest of the week! I got another aqua session under my belt yesterday and today, decided to brave the gym for the first time in five weeks… oh man, it was hard. The gym has recently installed a fancy signing in system that sets up all your programmes automatically on the new machines and I was greeted with a message from my trainer. He gave me a big wow for all the visits I had put in (pre-holiday) and told me to keep going. I felt really proud of myself and wondered if maybe this wouldn’t be as bad as I expected (note to self: always go with your gut instinct!)

After 12 minutes on the bike, I felt dizzy and wondered how on earth you can lose your fitness level so quickly, I was a gymming, swimming machine a month ago and now I can barely do 20 second bike sprints! I wandered over to the converging chest press machine and did a couple of sets, determinedly ignoring the flashing message that told me I wasn’t lifting my pre-holiday weight – I know I have turned into a post holiday weakling, I don’t need machines to keep reminding me! 15 minutes on the elliptical trainer at a paltry level 5 instead of 10, a couple of sets on the lat pulldown and my workout was finished. I logged out and was about to leave when I spotted the scales, was now the right moment to find out how much of a great time I had had on holiday?

Hmm, as I took a step towards them, two weeks of waffle / pancake / pastry breakfasts came flooding back. Another step and the healthy side of me jumped in with “Don’t forget you also had fruit with breakfast everyday!” “Maybe so,” argues holiday side “but you also ate out every night and enjoyed cheesecake that possibly contains your whole days calories in one slice!” Despite not being a big fan of scales, (I’m more about how your clothes feel), curiosity got the better of me and I jumped on. The pointer raced round to the top to reveal I was 12 st, my pre-holiday weight. Joy and relief wash over me because it has taken time for Other Half and I to adapt back to this healthy eating lark. We are back on the cereal and salad but are still celebrating the joys of weekend pizza, Starbucks, fast food and eating out. I know from previous experience that I can only fool my body in the short-term that these extra yummy calories are absolutely vital for my health and wellbeing…!

So, don’t let me sit here all alone feeling like a post holiday lemon, please tell me some of you out there also struggle to get back on track with healthy eating after sampling the joys of an I’ll-eat-whatever-I-fancy holiday. Don’t tell me I should exercise while on holiday or we will fall out big style, just because I think you’re right, doesn’t mean I want to agree!

The Cheescake Factory is the door to heaven

The Cheesecake Factory

The Cheesecake Factory

The Cheesecake Factory is another miracle of American cuisine. We went for dessert last year, only to discover it was a full-blown restaurant that served the full monty of courses and so we intended to make the most of it this visit. We walked through enormous doors into a large, high ceilinged room and were led past a glass cabinet full of mouth-watering cheesecakes and into our booth. The waiter asked the usual question about where we were from but instead of the usual “your accent is so cute” reply, he told us he was from Surrey himself. We exchanged a bit of chatter as he gave us the menus and horror of horrors, a

The Cheesecake Factory Calorie Menu

The Cheesecake Factory Calorie Menu!

booklet dedicated to the calorie content of the food we were about to eat – total madness! Apparently, the government is so worried about the obesity problem in America, any restaurant chain of 10 or more must provide nutritional information about the food it serves. “Very sensible” I say as a gym going, healthy eating pre-holiday person in the UK. “Yeah, whatever, I’m not ruining my appetite by discovering my recommended calories for the day are sitting in this piece of cheesecake!” is what I actually say as a sunbathing, eating out everyday on holiday person.

Orange Chicken and Burger with Fries

Orange Chicken and Burger with Fries

The menu is huge and included starters that can feed a family, running alongside burgers, fish, chicken, mexican and pasta main dishes that would suit even the fussiest of eaters (yes, that means me!) I plump for orange chicken with rice and vegetables, Other Half goes with the burger and fries. The waiter brings back a diet coke and a freshly squeezed glass of real orange juice (you never have to say “fresh orange juice” to them as they don’t consider there is any other kind) and some of the worlds most amazing tasting bread.

Heavenly Bread

Heavenly Bread

 If you were to look at it in all innocence, you could mistakenly presume it is made from chocolate looking at its gorgeous dark brown crusty exterior and matching soft innards. However, it tastes like a sweet, spongy piece of heaven that could make you cancel your mains so you could just feast on its loveliness. I asked the waiter what kind of bread it was and he simply shrugged and told me it was some kind of rye bread – he has obviously lived here too long and become blind to the amazing bread! Back at the hotel, Judy thought it sounded like pumpernickel so I will have my eyes open once I get back home!

Most Delicious Vanilla Bean Cheesecake on Earth

Most Delicious Vanilla Bean Cheesecake on Earth

The chicken and burger were delicious although we only managed part of the huge plateful given to us. We gazed at the list of cheesecakes available and decided to go simple and order the vanilla bean – it was a heavenly layer of crunchy biscuit base, vanilla cheese, vanilla mousse, vanilla cream plus extra fresh cream added for good measure. Every bite was a party in my mouth, so rich and creamy and delicious and well worth all those hours in the gym. By the time I got to the last four forkfuls, I had slipped into slow motion and wondered if I would ever be hungry again. At home, I wouldn’t think twice about leaving food on my plate when I felt full but here, my stomach refused to give into my brain and I ate the cheesecake but left the cream. Other Half was more sensible, leaving a little bit of both so that he didn’t explode. All in all, it was a fabulous meal which we repeated a week later only this time, we ordered cheesecake to takeaway with us which meant we tried a few… I can also recommend carrot cake cheesecake, chocolate cheesecake and banana cream cheesecake! 😮

A Mesmorising Choice of Cheesecakes

A Mesmorising Choice of Cheesecakes

Have you tasted these Cheesecake Factory delights yourself or, do you think you have tasted better at home or on holiday? (I don’t know if I believe that you have!) Let me know as I am open to cheesecake recommendations throughout the world!