Busy week

I’m writing this without a title at the moment because I’m not actually sure what I’m going to write about!

I haven’t posted for nearly a week, which I think is the longest I’ve been away from my blog. In my defence, it’s been a very busy week, at a time when I could’ve really done without it, but hey, that’s the way the cookie crumbles sometimes, isn’t it?

I’m not feeling quite myself at the moment, partly, I think due being such a busy bee this week. This was my first week back at work after our lovely break in Mexico. For anyone who missed the posts, here’s the best of our trip in pics (arachnophobes don’t worry, I won’t traumatise you with the tarantula again!)

 

It was only a four day week back too! I’d booked Monday off to try to get over the jetlag. Massive fail! Tuesday back at work I was a complete zombie! Wednesday I had to fly to Frankfurt for a business workshop on Thursday, which meant as well as not being over the jetlag from Mexico, I was now another hour in front of myself!

I flew Lufthansa which was a reasonably pleasant experience. I know geographical stereotypes are generally to be taken with a pinch of salt, but German efficiency isn’t one of them. This was the first time I’d been to Germany, but I have many German colleagues, and they are always super efficient. In my experience they make you feel reassured and confident because their efficiency shines through. They get annoyed with themselves if anything causes them to be anything less than spot on the mark, so they work hard to make sure this doesn’t happen. The whole Lufthansa experience was the same. Everything happened on time, not a minute before or after. Frankfurt was the same. Shuttle bus turned up when and as expected, hotel check in and out was a breeze and service overall was commendable.

As this was a business occasion, I couldn’t take as many photos as I would normally. Remember I’m new to this job, and I don’t want my new colleagues to think I’m some sort of weirdo who takes photos every three seconds (whether that, in fact, is true or not!) I did manage to sneak a couple though when I was on my own.

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This was when I got to put my head down after a team dinner. It was really nice to chat with my colleagues that I don’t see often, and some I met for the first time, I’m part of a really great team, but the old jetlag means I needed my bed, or rather, the NH Frankfurt Airport’s bed, but you catch my drift. At first I thought it strange that I only had a singe duvet, but then I realised it was another example of German efficiency. Why provide a double duvet for a double for single occupancy room? Less washing, less space, less carbon footprint.

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Treats in the breakout area during the coffee break. I’ve found it’s common on the continent to provide sweets in the coffee area, and I have to say I wholeheartedly approve of this practise. Hours in a meeting room with no fresh air, often on not enough sleep and trying to concentrate for long periods often leads to that feeling in your head as if your brain’s doing slow backflips and it can feel as though you have lead weights attached to your eyelids. What better remedy than oodles of processed sugar? The little glazed profiterole was labelled up as a mini windbag! After a quick peruse of google I have discovered that windbag is indeed what Germans call profiteroles. I love learning stuff like this.

 

The meeting started at 8am and overran somewhat, so I didn’t get back to the airport until after 6pm, which wasn’t a problem timing-wise because my flight wasn’t until 21.55, but was a problem for my mental state. I was feeling completely exhausted and burnt out and as a result my brain was playing tricks on me, so, I decided what I needed was some familiarity so I took myself off to McDonalds. I don’t care what anyone says about the (lack of) nutritional value of McDonalds, it tastes wonderful and as I sat scoffing away and reading my kindle I could feel my woes dissolving and my rational self taking over again. Just to complete the process I did some crocheting. This was nearly a disaster. I’d remembered to pack the yarn and hook  but forgot the pattern and a stitch marker! Thank goodness for technology. I asked hubby to WhatsApp the pattern to me, which he did straight away, bless his heart, and I improvised with a piece of yarn for my stitch marker.

This is as far as I got before I needed stuffing (which I hadn’t brought), but the lights you can see in the background are UK lights so it was all good.

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Exhausted as I was, I could still appreciate the beauty of flying in the dark. I love the lights of the airport (the carbon footprint concerns me, but I appreciate the obvious safety necessity). This was Frankfurt from the air.

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Difficult to take a non-blurry photo when you’re in the process of being accelerated to 500mph!

I was so so glad to get home to my own bed, not that I was in it for long because I had to be back on the boards for a conference call at 8am! No rest for the wicked eh? I’m not complaining though (ok, I may have done a bit in the height of tiredness). I’ve fought for this opportunity and I’m determined to make it work.

I actually made it to 9pm last night before I collapsed into bed with the cats (hubby was out for the night). I read my kindle for a bit (fab book I’m reading at the moment – Kate Morton’s latest) but then this happened.

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Somehow I still don’t feel recovered. I’m still in a bit of a daze! Maybe I had too much sleep!

If I did then it’ll stand me in good stead for next week because on Monday I’m globetrotting again! This time I’m heading for Gijon in northern Spain for training on heavy plates (big bits of steel cut into a big rectangle that can be used to make the JCBs making a building, or the fabric of that building, or even a luxurious cruise ship). Gijon is difficult to get to. I have to drive to Heathrow, fly to Madrid and then catch a connection to Asturias and obviously the same in reverse on Wednesday to come back. I get back to Heathrow after 10pm so won’t be home before midnight. People think travelling for work is glamourous and exciting. Well, whilst it has its moments and sometimes you get some free time to explore, it’s generally the opposite of glamourous. I can now say I’ve physically been to Germany, but all I saw was the inside and outside of an airport and a hotel and a bit of road in between. It gave me a taster though and I’d like to go back for a mini-break with hubby because it looked nice as I flew in. I did once go to a convention in Barcelona and as part of the day the company organised a whistle stop tour around Barcelona so I did get to see Sagrada Familia and some other Gaudi works so that was closer to glamourous.

I haven’t had enough umpf to get out in the garden since we’ve been back from Mexico. I was hoping to this weekend, but I’m still not with it. Hopefully I’ll be back to my normal self next weekend and I’ll be able to get out to do a bit of pottering. I satisfied the gardening urge this morning by tending to my houseplants.

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I’m sad to report that the succulent in the flamingo (there’s a phrase I never thought I’d utter!) is the only one that I’ve managed to keep alive since my brother’s wedding. I think I must’ve over-watered the others. Succulents don’t like too much water. The cacti seem to be happy enough. The Venus Flytrap not so much! Not sure what I’ve done wrong there. It’s still alive so I’ll google for some advice.

 

My mantlepiece is doing well. Either end are my airplants which just need an occasional spritz of water. I’ve managed to keep the two succulents in the typewriter and the floral mug alive so far. The owl and the bounce mug contain the cuttings that my friend gave me. In the mug is a Chinese money plant and in the owl (it seems I don’t really do conventional plant pots!) is my chain of hearts. It’s not so much a chain of hearts as a sprig at the moment, but it’s alive and growing slowly so I’m happy with that.

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My roses look a little sorry for themselves. I’m still working out their watering needs, and I think it’s slightly more than I’ve been doing thus far. These were a birthday present so I’m doing my best to keep the, going in the hope that I’ll be able to plant them outside.

Right, best think of a title and then get ready for a night at our good friends’ house. Hopefully they’ll trigger us out of our jetlag haze!

Mexico in Mexico

I can’t actually believe that tomorrow is our last full day here and that soon I’m going to have to contemplate wearing shoes, drying my hair and, you know, adulting!

As I write this I am lying on a sunbed, with my wireless headphones (thank you NLMK) pumping my holiday playlist into my lugholes, barely inches from a very inviting swimming pool. There are guys and gals regularly wandering past asking me if I’d like a tequila sunrise, a pina colada or any other manner of delectation.

Of course, we could’ve chosen to go and imbibe our choice of poison at the swim-up bar in the next pool, but we prefer the quieter more relaxed vibe of this pool (and we’re drinking Diet Coke so really no need of swim-up bars).

There are coatis wandering around in the foliage behind me, cats lounging in the shade trying to keep cool, tropical birds chattering away to each other in the trees above me and occasionally a flamboyance of flamingos soaring high over head.

Spot the imposter!

This truly is an animal lover’s paradise. Not so good for those not so fond of the fluff and the feather, but really, we’re in their home, not the other way round. A guy flicked water at a coati yesterday on purpose as he got out of the pool (the guy, not the coati). The coati didn’t give two sniffs of his turned up snouty nose and carried on about his important business of snuffling and being cute, but hubby and I were both incensed (in a most internal and private British way).

We’ve had such a fantastic time (and it’s not over yet). We really are so lucky that we have the means and the opportunity to take holidays like this every so often. The luxury of doing nothing, or everything, depending upon your mood is something to be thankful for. Admittedly we’ve spent the vast majority of our time doing the nothing rather than the everything, that’s exactly how we wanted it.

We went to the beach one day. I couldn’t tell you which day as I have very little comprehension of time at the moment. It certainly wasn’t yesterday, because yesterday was somewhat spectacular, but more of that at a later date when I have photographic evidence. Maybe it was the day before? Maybe not. Who really cares?

The beach is just over the road, through one of the sister hotels (where you can also make use of their all inclusive facilities). We walked over, down a lovely sheltered promenade, but for the infirm, over-heating or, dare I say it, exercise-shy you can jump on a golf buggy to be deposited a stone’s throw from the white sands.

The beach was very pretty, although, I think hubby and I have been spoilt by the indescribable, and untouched, beauty of the Maldives and any other beach will now struggle to match it. Still, first world problems and all that.

Hubby went snorkelling but reported slim pickings (or should that be viewings?) on the fish front. I had a bit of a paddle. We stayed at the beach until lunchtime and then headed back along the promenade to our hotel. The only shade on the beach was provided by palm trees and the sun beds were somewhat crammed in and the humidity was high so we were in need of a few minutes of air conditioning to cool down.

Today we could’ve joined in with a coconut party at the next pool. We politely declined due to a serious lack of botheredness, but I have to say, I was slightly intrigued as to the specificities of a coconut party. The entertainment staff promoting it were dressed a la Carmen Miranda, sporting coconuts on their heads, but I assume the actual party entailed more than careful balancing of fruit on one’s bonce. I wasn’t concerned enough to extract my derrière from my sunbed, but from what my ears could detect, there was much whooping and singing of the Macarena. Not sure what that has to do with coconuts, but whatever!

I was just interrupted by a passing band of coatis (I just guessed at the collective noun, but then googled, and I guessed right. Score!) This happens every day towards late afternoon. They’re around all day and evening, but they like to patrol the pool around now. Presumably they’ve learnt people are likely to have dropped (or disposed of) food by now.

This is a common sight. Coati bottom protruding from a rubbish receptacle!

Look at the teeny tiny baby!

Hubby has just gone off to the shop to dispose of another 160 MXN (£6.11) on Cheetos crunchy.

Totally worth it (even though we’re all inclusive), they’re amazing!

Anyway, silly boy left his Diet Coke unattended and a coati, having a very sweet tooth as we’ve discovered coatis do, has knocked over and pilfered said Diet Coke.

This really is a real-time post today!

It was supposed to rain today, but we’ve had about three and a half spots! Hubby is now back with Cheetos, so I think we may make our way back to our room before the weather changes its mind, and also before the dreaded mozzies come to consume our blood. So far I’ve managed just two bites (both before we realised they’re active in the day and therefore had neglected to liberally apply the deet!)

Having re-read my post, I realise that Eleanor Oliphant (fantastic book that I finished in two days at the start of the holiday) has rubbed off on me and my parlance is somewhat loquacious and elaborate (I did that bit on purpose!) Sorry!

Anyway, the coatis are now trying to steal my bag because they can smell my Cheetos so I shall vacate my sunbed forthwith! Chat later!!

That’s my knee bottom right of photo – they get that close when there’s a chance of dinner!!

Leaving on a jet plane

… except I do know when I’ll be back!

We waved goodbye to this gorgeous duo before 6.30 this morning and headed to the airport. As I write this we are at 38000 feet heading south west and we’re off the coast of Canada, near somewhere called Goose Bay (when I say near, obviously I mean 38000 feet above it). We’ve travelled 2200 miles and we have 2833 miles to go. It’s -50 outside. Toasty in here though.

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Obviously I’m not going to be able to post this until I get to somewhere with WiFi, but I thought I’d help pass the time by documenting the day so far. We’re on a Boeing 787, otherwise known as a Dreamliner. This is Boeing’s newest addition to their range, and, if I’m not wrong, was recently the first plane to fly non-stop to Australia from the UK.

You can tell it’s new. It’s fancy pants! The windows have a button that adjusts the tint in the glass so it’s either completely transparent, completely opaque, or anywhere in between. None of the old window shutters that you normally get on a plane.

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When we got on, the windows were all normal transparent glass but after we took off the crew activated the ambient lighting which is supposed to replicate the conditions in the time zone that you’re flying to, which allegedly reduces jet lag, so now the windows are semi-opaque. I never really get jet lag when flying west, so we’ll see what effect it has on the return journey (not that I’m thinking about that yet!)

When they activated the ambient lighting, all the lights down the ceiling of the plane changed colour. I was too busy marvelling at it and forgot to take a photo, but hopefully they’ll do it again so I can show you (update – they didn’t!)

Seatback screens are nothing new for anyone who’s flown long haul on a decent airline, but I don’t recall them having USB slots before. Fab! No need to worry about how much candy crush I play then, I can just charge my phone if need be.

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So far we’ve done quite a bit of eating (which is fine because calories don’t count up here, right?) We had breakfast in Wetherspoons at Birmingham airport (once we’d found a seat that is! Very busy airport this morning).

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Apparently it was lunchtime a while ago (I have no idea, what with being up at the crack of dawn and all this ambient lighting business) so we were served a meal. I know lots of people don’t like aeroplane food, but I really like it.

We had chicken in tarragon sauce with roast potatoes, broccoli and carrots with a bread roll. Then we had cheese and crackers and a chocolate orange ganache dessert. Yum!

Apparently we’ve been flying for four hours and thirty four minutes, and in that time I’ve been luxuriously unproductive! Lots of procrastination, faffing and generally doing entirely what I want while not having to organise, remember or be reliable. That, while I’m here, is someone else’s job, and they are welcome to it!

I have started to crochet a gift for my new baby niece who is currently incubating in utero.

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I have candy crushed all my lives several times (including changing the time to trick it into giving me more!) Level 2518 completed! (Update: levels 2519, 2520 and 2521 also completed). I’ve played a million games of traffic rush. I’m sure my high score used to be 287, but it appears to have forgotten that, so I was determined to beat 200 before I stopped.

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What else to do now? I have Red magazine from ages ago that I hadn’t got round to reading. It has Keeley Hawes on the front and I’m interested to see what she has to say about the Bodyguard (update: nothing about the Bodyguard but she seems lovely).

I have Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine to read, which my best friend bought me for my birthday. I’m looking forward to this – I never read actual books anymore, unless they’re non-fiction with pictures that don’t translate well to my kindle, and this is an actual book, with pages and everything. I find the kindle easier normally because I do most of my reading before I go to sleep when I like to turn the light off to ease my eyes, so a book’s no good and also, there’s a very real risk of dropping an actual book on your face when reading lying down, and that hurts and you feel a bit silly if your husband sees! I’m going to have plenty of time and opportunity for actual book reading over the next week though. What bliss!

There’s always more eating to be done too. Apparently we get afternoon tea later! (Update: we did!)

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Think I’ll get on with some more completely unproductive things now.

We flew out over Ireland, under Iceland and down the east coast of the states. This, believe it or not, is Cape Canaveral. You can see the Assembly Building (largest single storey building in the world) if you look close enough.

It’s funny how you look on the map and think, how have we got another four hours to go, it’s only a couple of inches on the map. Then you realise those couple of inches actually constitute the entire east coast of America! America is BIG!

So as you can tell by the fact that this is published, we have now arrived. Completely exhausted but happy.

Our bags got randomly searched at the airport. The guy seemed to find my wool strangely amusing and was utterly bemused by the copious amounts of Fisherman’s Friends that hubby has (he uses them as an anti-smoking aid).

Haven’t seen much of the hotel yet but our room is lovely (and huge!)

And it has optics!!

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This could be dangerous!

And this is the view from the balcony.

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We’ve already seen a capybara in the grounds. No photo unfortunately but I have a week to remedy that. We can hear parrots outside and there are, allegedly, coatis roaming around.

Not sure if we’ll do much exploring tonight. It’s not 6pm yet here, but our bodies think it’s 11pm and we were up at 5.30am so I think bed may win over exploring.