Quick Catch Up

Here I am again! Twice in as many days. This is going to be a very random outpouring of news I fear! Sorry in advance – think of it as eclectic!

I’ve entitled this ‘quick’, but in reality it is anything but because my nails have got so long, it’s really hard to type accurately! I was recommended a new nail technician and I’ve been religiously going to her for beautiful sparkly gel nails every three weeks.

These are what I’ve had so far.

The last set had to be less glitterified because I had a very important work event which required professionalism! I’ll tell you more about that enough another time, but suffice it to say, it worked! It led to another work event which happened to be on the day that I was due to get my nails re-done hence they’re now REALLY long! I’m not due to get them done for almost another two weeks, but I will be going for full on sparkle overload ready for the festive season.

What else have I been up to? I did some baking. I bought some fabulous cookie cutters a few weeks ago and I really wanted to try them out, but didn’t want to completely scupper my diet plan so I scoured t’internet for a diet friendly cookie recipe and found one that didn’t break the diet bank.

It swapped sugar for sweetener and only used a small amount of low fat spread instead of butter.

Here they are pre-baking.

They lost some of their shape in the oven but I was still pretty pleased with how they turned out.

I won’t lie, they weren’t as tasty as Millie’s or Maryland cookies, but I was happy enough to offer them to my Dad (sweet things connoisseur) and C when they came to visit.

That visit was a mercy mission for our little Olive. She recently learnt how to hop up on to the banister at the top of the stairs.

Doesn’t she look pleased with herself?

Cats aren’t always as surefooted as they’re reputed to be and our poor Olive slipped off the banister and fell top to bottom, right down to the hall below. We put the cardboard turrets on the posts, as you can see in the photo, but it didn’t stop her jumping up.

So, Dad to the rescue ……

We have a safety shelf to catch floundering felines! Of course, to the best of our knowledge she hasn’t toppled off since it’s been safe to do so, but at least we have peace of mind.

Last weekend was super busy. On Friday I was in London for the annual ISTA (International Steel Trade Association) lunch at the Brewery. I completely forgot to take any photos which is a shame because the food’s always beautifully presented. We enjoyed salmon mi cuit for our first course. I’m glad I didn’t know that mi cuit means half cooked until after I’d eaten it because it would’ve put me off but it was really tasty. The main course was Hunter’s Chicken but it wasn’t Hunter’s Chicken like you get in the pub down the road! It was super posh Hunter’s Chicken and was scrummy. The dessert was pear sponge pudding with ice cream and completed a trio of deliciousness.

The speeches were shorter than usual, which I think was a good thing because the state of the steel industry isn’t good so many more words would just have added to the gloom. The ‘celebrity’ speaker was Dr Phil Hammond, who I’d never heard of, and after hearing him, I think I’ll just forget him again! It was a good day though, I caught up with some old friends, met some new friends and ate some yummy food – what’s not to like?

On Saturday I travelled back down to London. If I’d known further in advance I could’ve stayed overnight on Friday to save all the travelling, but hey, never mind. I’d already arranged with my Dad that he’d drop me at Uxbridge tube station and he’d go to the Harry Potter Studios in Watford whilst I jumped on the tube to South Kensington. Destination? The Royal Albert Hall …

… to watch the Champions Tennis.

I arrived a little early so I had a quick wander around the Prince Albert Memorial statue in Kensington Gardens.

Prince Albert is surrounded on all four corners by representations of Europe, America, Asia and Africa.

I took my seat in the Royal Albert Hall in good time and, whoop, I was on the front row! Great view!

I was slightly disappointed to have a net in front of me, and I experimented with taking photos through the holes, until, that is David Ferrer and Juan Carlos Ferrero took to the court and started practising their serves! I’ll take a net on my photos over a one hundred plus mile per hour tennis ball in the nose!

My photos aren’t great because of the net and because the iPhone isn’t great at capturing action photos, but as well as Ferrer and Ferrero …

I also saw Tim Henman and Goran Ivanisevic …

… playing with Mark Philippousis and Xavier Malisse.

There was also an exhibition doubles with Heather Watson, Martina Hingis, Thomas Enqvist and the ever popular Mansour Bahrami.

I had a great day. Dad, meanwhile had a great day at the Harry Potter Studios. He reported that the studios were dressed for Christmas …

… and he was very impressed with the new Gringotts exhibit which hubby and I saw back in May.

On Sunday we went to the Good Food Show with my sister-in-law and brother-in-law and again I forgot to take any pictures! It was a good day though. We sampled lots of gin, cheese and curry and managed not to spend too much money on gimmicks! Last year we all bought frying pans which were supposed to revolutionise our cooking lives. Needless to say, said frying pans ended up in the bin quite quickly when they failed in their promise! I did buy several skinny syrups which I’m now enjoying on my porridge and baked oats in the mornings.

This weekend has been much more about upcoming festivities. On Friday I went to Resorts World to check out the shops and grab a bite to eat, and they’re in full on Christmas mode.

It seemed the right time to get festive at home, so, the decs are up!

So, there you have it. A round up of the last couple of weeks. Hopefully it’s not too disjointed, but if it is,just remember …. eclectic!

Fight or flight

This post would’ve been very different had I written it this morning. It’s amazing the difference a day can make to your outlook and positivity.

I told you about my promotion back in September in what I seem to remember was a somewhat upbeat post. Since then I’ve been plugging away, learning my trade, climbing the steepest learning curve I’ve ever been on and, to be frank, it’s flipping hard!

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely made the right choice in pursuing the next step in my career. I was bored, getting highly complacent, far too comfortable and was a couple of droplets of swamp water away from complete stagnation. I did the right thing, but I have days when I doubt myself.

It’s very similar to being single. When I was single I’d have a massive high when I got a message from an attractive member of the opposite sex on Dating Direct, almost immediately followed by a crash back down to earth when he turned out to be a racist/psychopath/raving lunatic/sexist pig/total dingbat (delete as appropriate). That’s what learning to be an Account Manager is like, as is scientifically demonstrated above using empirical, soundly reasoned data (definitely not just nice round numbers plucked from the air to illustrate my point!)

I have days when things are going well, I’ve snuck a couple of inches up that learning curve and my confidence is flying with the birds and I drive home singing along to the Mamma Mia: Here we go again soundtrack at the top of my voice and then, bam! Something happens the next day, I realise I’ve not understood a nuance, or I’m asked to do something I completely don’t understand, or I get an email telling me I’m being unreasonable and should know better and down I crash, bringing my confidence level to ground zero.

This is when I have to overcome the woe is me feeling, regroup, sleep on it, decide what to do about it, and come back fighting. I’m not very good at the flight option, low as my confidence may get, once I’ve beaten myself up for a while, the real me struggles through and I forge on. I may not possess all the positive qualities that I’d like, but I am determined and I am resilient and once I have started on a path, I want to reach my destination, even if it means going round the wrekin to get there. The aim is to get to the green line on the scientific chart. Slightly wobbly to negate complete arrogance, but essentially brimming with confidence.

I won an award at work several years ago. I have to admit that I was only half listening to the presentation speech because it didn’t occur to me that the award might be coming my way, but one word that I did hear used to describe me has stuck with me ever since – stoic. The guy who gave this compliment is certainly not free and easy with his praise which, when it comes, makes it all the more sweet.

Yep, that’s me! I don’t profess to have endured any real hardship in the traditional sense of the word, but yes, I’ve had knock backs at work but I haven’t given up, I haven’t become bitter, I’ve used the ensuing feelings to fuel my way and prove my worth.

The same person also said to me more recently that I’m very good with people and that our customers appreciate that. This was a higher compliment to me than I think it was intended to be. I am not a natural people person. At all! I’ve had to work really hard to learn the skill. Earlier this week I took a return flight to Frankfurt and both ways I had a window seat and nobody immediately next to me. My heart gave a little jump for joy when I heard the captain announce ‘boarding complete, cabin crew prepare for departure’ and realised there were no more potential headspace invaders heading down the aisle in my direction. Excellent, nobody to studiously ignore! Blissful alone time to watch episodes of the Crown uninterrupted by mindless, unnecessary chatter. I’ve watched other people making small talk and they seem to thrive on it. Not me, I’m the classic introvert and I need time alone when I don’t have to pretend to be something I’m not.

I’m very lucky to have had excellent support through my life. I’m surrounded by people who have my back, but I wish I could step out of myself and into one of them sometimes to see how they see me. They seem to be under the impression that I could rule the world if I put my mind to it whereas I’m only too aware of my limitations. I’m perfectly capable of ruling my own world, but no woman is an island, and my world can’t exist independently of other worlds which I can’t rule.

I’ve never thought of myself as someone with low confidence, but I realise now that that’s because I’ve never found anything particularly difficult so I’ve never had reason to doubt myself. Surely everyone’s confident about things they’re good at? I’ve never really been out of my comfort zone until now. I sailed through school floating somewhere in the middle where no one really bothers you, college was two years of fun with a bit of work thrown in for good measure and then uni was hard work but still firmly within my comfort zone because fifteen years of education had given me the tools to manage pretty much any educational setting. After that I faffed around with a couple of simple jobs until I ended up with the company I’m still with now, where I continued to faff around until I realised I was pushing forty and that life wasn’t going to give me a leg up, I needed to apply myself. I needed to be proactive. This again isn’t a natural trait of mine. Towards the beginning of my time with my current employer I was made aware that someone had described me as not very proactive – I can’t remember who told me, but I’ve always remembered who said it, and it pops into my head every time I bump into him in the kitchen. I guess home truths cut deeper.

Anyhoo, onwards and upwards. Today was an up on the chart after yesterday was a down. I will continue skywards on my mahoosive learning curve. I will attempt to bolster, no, I WILL bolster my confidence, on the down days I will remember the buzz of the up days, I will be strong and I will do this. I feel like I should burst into a Gloria Gaynor song, but hubby’s asleep next to me so I’ll refrain! As Seven of Nine would say resistance is futile!

Green Girl Gardener gets a promotion

I have been waiting to write this post for ages, but I couldn’t because my news hadn’t been announced at work until this week.


This still from Friends perfectly illustrates how I’ve felt for the past few weeks, not being able to share my exciting news properly. This is the moment when Rachel arrives home after being promoted to assistant buyer at Bloomingdales but Monica and Phoebe start to have a disagreement and exit the apartment, leaving Rachel to celebrate her promotion on her own.

I’ve worked for the same company for sixteen years and whilst I’ve had a few new responsibilities added to my job description over the years, I was essentially doing the same job as I turned forty that I was doing when I started with the company at twenty five. I talked to you before about how I loved being forty and how reaching the big four oh gave me a confidence that I hadn’t had before, but it also made me realise that I needed to step it up at work if I wanted to fulfil my potential and progress in my career. So, over the past year I have worked really hard and applied myself in a way that I had never done previously. I didn’t know how to before, but it all seemed to click into place in my head, and it’s paid off and I have been promoted to Account Manager.

The hard work starts now, but I’m excited to get going in my new role and I’m determined to make a success of it.

On the day I was given the good news, I decided to go and treat myself to some goodies to celebrate, from the little craft shop in Notcutts.


The panda is a stitch counter and the little green octopus is a tiny pair of snips that I can attach to my project bag so I always have them handy when I need them. I’m going to use one of the coasters on my desk at work as a reminder of the elation I felt at having my hard work recognised.

Last night I attended my first work event since my promotion and although I don’t have new business cards yet, it felt amazing to be able to introduce myself as an Account Manager to people that I met during the evening, and to share my news with a few customers and contacts who also attended the event.

The event was the NASS (National Association of Steel Service Centres) annual dinner held at the National Motorcycle Museum in Birmingham.


My company is one of the sponsors of the dinner (although not Liberty as shown on the invite) every year and hosts a table. I was lucky enough to be invited this year by the lovely Karen who organises the event which meant I got to meet and chat with a couple of people that I’ve never met before.

It’s a black tie event, so I treated myself to a new LBD from Next.


Excuse the loo roll in the background. I took this in my hotel room as I was leaving for pre-dinner drinks.

The hotel was the Best Western Manor hotel. I’ve stayed here a couple of times for work events and it’s a nice hotel. Comfortable rooms, good breakfast and WiFi that actually works.


My new Therapy bag was the perfect accessory to the LBD and I used my new purse which was a birthday present from my sister-in-law.


Allegedly it’s bad luck to gift an empty purse, so my sister-in-law had put a shiny pound coin in it, and it really came in handy because there were Breast Cancer Care pin badges on sale at the entrance to the venue so I bought one.

Every year the NASS president nominates a charity to sponsor, and Breast Cancer Care is one close to his heart. He spoke passionately about the work the charity does and how appreciative he is, and guests were invited to donate to the charity. People did give generously and more than £3500 was raised. One lucky benefactor was picked out of the hat to win a magnum of champers.

I didn’t win, but I can console myself with the memory of this bottle of Moët which my Dad bought me to congratulate me on my promotion. We all enjoyed this on my birthday night out.


The dinner itself was scrummy. Having had experience of organising events on a large scale, I know how hard it is to get great quality in mass catering and also to please all, but everybody I spoke to thoroughly enjoyed their meal. We had four courses starting with mild tomato soup flavoured with tarragon followed by an amazing hot pastry parcel filled with Boursin, leeks and mushroom. The main was fillet of beef which was cooked perfectly for me. I know some people like beef to be bloody but if I’m going to have a steak I prefer it not to be running round my plate. Dessert was a pastry tart filled with vanilla custard cream and seasonal fruits.

I so wish I’d taken some photos of the food to show you because the presentation was beautiful, but I was too busy chatting away to the guy next to me about travel and festivals and a little bit of steel stuff and enjoying the yummy flavours to whip my phone out.

One thing that was on the table that I can show you a photo of was the table gift given by the company NLMK.


Wireless headphones. I shouldn’t really praise them because they’re from a competitor, but what a great table gift! I must remember this for next time I’m asked to come up with ideas for customer gifts.

Anyway, after being coerced into staying up until 2am by my colleagues at the risk of turning into a pumpkin, and then going to work this morning, I’m yearning for my bed so I’ll apologise for any sleep deprivation induced spelling or grammatical errors and make my way up the apples and pears to my slumber chamber.

Have a great weekend!