Sunday, August 31, 2008

Quite a weekend...

It's been a busy old weekend with one thing or another.

Friday night after the usual tea in the Tap, I paid a long overdue trip to the County to watch my mate Rich play with his band Second Nature. I don't get to see them too often even though they play regularly in town, so it was good to see that they were every bit as entertaining as I'd remembered. Recommendation #1: go and see them if you get the chance.

Saturday morning started bright and early as I wanted to get a replacement laptop seeing as the old one keeps cutting out for no apparent reason and is about ready for the big PC World in the sky. Fortunately, the big PC World on the ground obliged I despite some confusion over their stock, I walked out with a much higher spec machine at half the price I'd paid for it's predecessor. Recommendation #2: Staff were sparse in PC World but the few I found there were friendly and helpful plus there's no denying that they've got some good bargains at the moment.

Next came the job of trying to transfer stuff from old machine to new. Seeing as I still had 125 days of Norton Internet Security subscription left to run, I contacted them to help me to transfer it to the new machine. Again they were incredibly helpful and by connecting remotely, managed to sort it all out for me. Recommendation #3: There's loads of security products out there, but these guys will continue to get my business. Especially as they gave me a years free additional subscription!

Teatime, I met up with Emma and we took a trip to Cleethorpes Parkway Cinema to watch Mamma Mia. Yes, I had my doubts (about the film, not Emma!) but there's no denying that I am a huge fan of their music so it just had to be done. Again, I was not disappointed. Sure, it wasn't the most complex plot I've ever watched but they all gave great performances in a really enjoyable feel good film. Recommendation #4: Go and see it - I've not heard of anyone yet who has seen it and not enjoyed it.

From there we grabbed a couple of crafty pints at the smallest pub, then returned to the County in Grimsby to watch Si Nichols. It's a while since we've seen him play in the Tap and he never fails to entertain with an eclectic mix of ballads, fold, rock and what can only be described as bawdy songs. Recommendation #5: Check out his MySpace or better still, as he always seems to be touring pubs and clubs, try and catch one of his shows.

Now Emma and I aren't particularly renowned for our self control where beer is concerned so it will come as little surprise that we didn't call it a night after that, but decided to grab another drink then go onto Caspers where we both enjoyed a delicious seafood carbonara. Recommendation #6: OK, they aren't a licensed premises but if, like us, you've probably already had enough for one night, Caspers is a great place to end an evening out with a coffee and a delicious Italian meal.

So there you have it, over far too quickly but that's always the way when you're busy. As a bit of a bonus (?), work commitments mean I've had to cancel the remainder of my holidays for the year, replacing them by extending my weekends so at least I'll have more time to cram in the fun for the rest of this year...

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

I'm sorry I'm not here...

A bit of lazy blogging tonight. My mate Steve in Toronto sent me these today which I thought were kind of topical and certainly worth sharing.

Ten suggestions for "Out of Office" messages:

1. I am currently out of the office at a job interview and will reply to you if I fail to get the position. Please be prepared for my mood.

2. You are receiving this automatic notification because I am out of the office. If I was in, chances are you wouldn't have received anything at all.

3. Sorry to have missed you, but I'm at the doctor's having my brain and heart removed so I can be promoted to our management team.

4. I will be unable to delete all the emails you send me until I return from vacation. Please be patient, and your mail will be deleted in the order it was received.

5. Thank you for your email. Your credit card has been charged 5.99 for the first 10 words and 1.99 for each additional word in your message.

6. The email server is unable to verify your server connection. Your message has not been delivered. Please restart your computer and try sending again. (The beauty of this is that when you return, you can see who did this over and over and over...)

7. Thank you for your message, which has been added to a queuing system. You are currently in 352nd place, and can expect to receive a reply in approximately 19 weeks.

8. Hi, I'm thinking about what you've just sent me. Please wait by your PC for my response.

9. I've run away to join a different circus.

10. I will be out of the office for the next two weeks for medical reasons. When I return, please refer to me as 'Lucille' instead of Seany...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Spoke too soon...

Further to my wittering a couple of posts ago, I finally received a letter today telling me that I didn't get the job. Disappointing maybe, but at least my judge of character is still on track - I thought it very unlikely that they would never reply at all. And clearly, my judge of character is far better than theirs!

Judging from Paul's comment to my previous post, it appears that it may not have proved such a prudent move if it had worked out. At least I'll take great consolation from that until the next opportunity comes along.

Of course, I guess this also means that perhaps Little Sis is right and everything really does happen for a reason...

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Hedging my bets...

I made a rare trip into my greenhouse this afternoon.

Dad put a lot of work into repairing and replacing some fence panels in my back garden earlier this year and I even made the effort myself to re-treat them all a few days later. It's not a job I relish repeating particularly so I decided I would shop around for some suitable hedging to grow around the lawn, initially to support the panels against the strong winds that we seem prone to, but eventually to replace the need for them entirely.

Now the grounds to Seany Towers aren't that extensive but it looked as though I would be looking for around 20-30 plants and I've been suitably horrified at what it was going to cost - even with my internet bargain hunting skills.

So this afternoon I set to raiding the green and golden leylandii that border the front lawn and armed with a new bag of potting compost and some organic rooting compound, started off 20 cuttings. My horticultural skills are hardly notable so as a back up, Dad is also starting some cotoneaster cuttings from their garden to add to mine.

The really disturbing thing is that it wasn't entirely the unpleasant chore I'd anticipated and I'd hate to think that I've already approached the age where I'm happy pottering around in my greenhouse on a weekend...

Friday, August 22, 2008

Just coincidence...

It's been a lousy week at work, everyone has become ultra demanding and impatient and it hasn't helped that for a number of reasons I've been a one man department since Wednesday lunchtime.

I've not mentioned it on here before, but whilst browsing the net a few weeks ago I stumbled across a job vacancy that looked right up my street. I was certainly well qualified, it was a welcome change from what I do now and it was considerably nearer home.

Admittedly, I spent a lot of time preparing but I couldn't have asked for a better interview. If I say so myself, I confidently delivered well prepared answers for everything they asked but in a sufficiently understated was as to not seem too cocky. The tone was professional, yet somehow relaxed and despite discussing the difficulties to be expected in the role, we all still managed to find time for a laugh here and there.

A couple of days later, I was asked to return to complete an assessment test which although much tougher than I'd anticipated, I still managed to complete with appropriate responses in the time allocated and they seemed quite pleasantly surprised that I'd done so. I'd also discovered during the process than from the hundreds of applicants, I'd made it into the last six. On the way out, they explained that I should expect to hear something in the next week.

I have to admit I was feeling incredibly confident at this point, but pride always comes before a fall as they say. With no word after a couple of weeks I'd become resigned to the fact that something hadn't gone to plan (well not mine at least), but still maintained a glimmer of hope in that the previous events had been carried out so professionally so surely they wouldn't just leave it at that.

On advice from a few people, for the first time in my life I sent a follow up mail. Now I'd always thought this would be considered pushy, but apparently it's common practise nowadays and is seen as as indication that you are keen to join their organisation. They replied immediately thanking me for my mail and saying they would be in contact again soon.

It's now five weeks since the test and I don't care what anyone says, to contact them again would come across as either too pushy, or needy and pathetic; neither of which are personas that I wish to convey particularly. Sure, I'm really disappointed that I didn't get the job, but I'm even more disappointed that I've heard nothing from them at all just to close the deal one way of the other.

So life goes on, but it didn't help this evening when an unexpected police detour practically took me past the doorsteps of two of their premises - surely that was just my imagination. Then, about half a mile from home, I paused to let a range rover out into the traffic, only to see as it went past, the registration plate was personalised to the name of this company's proprietor; not just initials, but initial and full surname.

Fortunately (!), I'm currently covering 5 people's work and there's no sign of that letting up any day soon, so that should keep me from wondering how close I was to escaping...

Sunday, August 17, 2008

A week in a few words,,,

Ridiculous workload kept the days occupied

Facebook kept the evenings occupied

Food, beer and a couple too many JDs and Glayvas took care of Friday evening

Baz singing Elvis (I believe his best show yet) helped us to wish Shaunna good luck as she left the Tap last night to pursue her culinary career

And here I am on Sunday evening ready to face it all over again...

Sunday, August 10, 2008

OK, they've got me...

I posted last November about my reluctance to get involved with any of these social networking sites, but I confess that Facebook is finally starting to win me over.

Not least for the fact that Little Sis roped me in to join in the Parking Wars game which although quite simple to play, has quite an addictive charm to it (except when the pair of them keep fleecing me with extortionate parking tickets).

That aside, there are some amusing features and applications on there which provide a timely distraction to the chores I would usually be up to on a weekend

Unfortunately, my continued attempt to retaining a little anonymity on here prevents me from posting a link to my Facebook page but to those who do know me beyond the blog, please feel free to look me up and join in the fun...

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Hola Amigos...

I'm back from my latest travels and the 30 Things... list has been updated accordingly.

As predicted it was one of the usual whirlwind visits with most of my time in Spain spent in either a meeting room, taxi or hotel room. What little I did see of Barcelona as it whizzed past the car window, I have to say looked well worthy of a return visit at a more leisurely pace sometime.

There was one more time honoured tradition to be upheld and that was to take the hour or so we did have spare on Monday night and find some good quality nosh. We were recommended to the Casa Fonda Europa and I have to say they didn't disappoint.

I took the usual opportunity of trying something different and started with a tapa of sardine and anchovy which set the taste buds up nicely to be followed by veal cheeks and pears for my main course, finishing with a medieval cheese and mint desert. I'll admit that the unusual combinations were the initial attraction, but I thoroughly enjoyed every last morsel of each course all the same.

Ever mindful of the six hour meeting scheduled the following morning, we all agreed that perhaps a small glass of beer was a more appropriate accompaniment than bottles of the local vino but the beer was the only non-Spanish element of the whole evening. I even got to try out a bit of the lingo with the waiters and taxi drivers with surprising success.

Sure enough, around 24 hours after arriving, we were boarding our Jet2 737 again and heading back to blighty. Incidentally, the jet we flew out on was called "Jo Whiley", but unfortunately I didn't notice whether we had the same one coming home. I only mention it as I was desperate to be able to come home, telling people we'd had a successful trip to Spain and that as an unexpected bonus, I had ridden Jo Whiley both ways...

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Bright and early start...

I'll not deny there is a certain smug sense of satisfaction I get by getting an early start to a Saturday after a Friday night in.

By 8:30 this morning, I'd been up and out to the bank (ok, cashpoint), took a look at Cleethorpes market (which for future reference is deserted at 8:00am), whizzed round the supermarket for a few essentials for next week and got a load of washing done and out.

The plan for the rest of today? Well after the delicious plate of kippers I polished off for breakfast, I'll be trying to fight off the thirst and stay out of the pub this afternoon, added to which, I really ought to be getting things ready for my trip next week.

On top of the additional responsibilities at work that kick in on Monday morning, I have a meeting with one of our major customers just outside Barcelona. On the plus side it will provide the excuse to add Spain to the list of countries visited on my 30 Things... list.

Unfortunately, we are on a tight schedule and will only be there for about 24 hours so given the fact I will also need to sleep, I expect I will only see about as much of Spain as I saw of Mexico last September...

Friday, August 01, 2008

5/31- must try harder...

The sort of title you'd expect to see on Little Sis' blog really.

We're into August and I've just realised that I only posted five times last month; officially the slackest month on here since I started in November 2004. Tut tut indeed. The problem is, there's a story I'm dying to share with everyone but the time just isn't right yet, not wanting to tempt fate or providence by spouting off too soon.

I've got a quiet weekend planned this week seeing as we've just had a couple of busy ones. Two weeks ago we "had" to be out on the Friday night to catch the collection for Dave and Rose at the Tap, then on the Sunday we went back for the football team barbecue and presentation from the aforementioned collection. Although obviously pleased with their presents, it was somewhat premature as despite the fact we know they are leaving at some point in the near future, nobody (including them) knows exactly when.

Last weekend started with joining Do-Ron to celebrate his birthday. You've got to admire the guy, 80 years old and he is still partying like a good 'un. Seeing as Dom was down from Middlesborough for the event, we thought it might be fun for Dave, Dom and I to recreate the excellent night out in Cleethorpes we had a few years ago. After a couple of liveners in the Tap, we headed for the Eastern Delights in Cleethorpes market place for the best Indian meal I can recall for a long time. From there we headed to the smallest pub (stopping for a quick refreshment stop en route) as we'd been told there was a mini beer festival in progress.

We caught a couple of pints at the festival before he started shutting up shop, from which point it appeared the ringing of bells calling last orders chased us the whole length of the resort back to the high street. That said, it was gone 2:00 in the morning when I jumped into a cab so the bells can't have been chasing us that closely. Not that it mattered as Dave and Dom are both excellent company, capable of glugging plenty of beer while conversation roams from the state of the economy, how the job market has changed in recent years to the perennial favourite of naming all manner of female celebrities that no matter how unlikely, "you still would".

And here we are today, in August already. The atmosphere at work is a strange one right now. The senior in my department left today after thirteen years with the company and his workload is headed my way. One of our accounts girls also left today after four years and one of the key account managers who looks after one of our most "challenging" customers has handed her notice in.

There have been a few of these departures of late, they will all be missed in different ways for different reasons and although I wish them all luck individually, there's no escaping the dilution of knowledge and experience that they leave behind. It seems that those who aren't actually working their notice are actively taking a second look at their future. On a purely selfish note, it frustrates me for reasons that probably wouldn't take a rocket scientist to figure out.

Perhaps it's just time to go off and busy myself with another silly Seany head-bobbing animation again...