All posts by CARAMEL

My stories are generally short and sweet, easy to read....not supposed to challenge anyone mentally. Just a few minutes diversion. You might relate to Caramel. You might think she is daft. She is learning with every story. Then there is the story of how Caramel was crushed. It will be delicately told. Mostly you will have a site full of life and joy. I don't have a camera. I have a tablet (which I won as a prize for passing a test at work) and that has a little camera thingy on it. I have tried to take photos and load them onto my lap-top, but there is something wrong with my tablet. It only lets me take one photo at a time. I have to bluetooth it and then delete it before I can take the next one. Nightmare! Anyway, I bring up the subject because very few of the pictures in the posts I publish were taken by me. They are from Pixabay and Shutterstock etc. They are not my "work". Then again I don't consider my posts work as such. It's just me waffling away, the same way as I would write a letter to my loved ones, about my life mostly. If dread the thought of upsetting anyone by sharing personal posts on WordPress and decorating them with what appear to be free images from these image sites. If I have unintentionally used something that someone recognizes and feels they should have been given credit or the image not be used at all. Please leave a comment on my post and I will correct it. The pictures I use are only used to decorate my waffley posts and make it more bearable for the 20-30 who seem to regularly view or like my posts (I don't know how many actually read them). I would never claim they are mine or my work. I make no money at all from blogging. Neither am I doing this to attain credit or recognition. I have just found it helpful to write about "stuff". It's a huge bonus that other bloggers have been so friendly and left kind comments. But please please let me know if I have broken blogging etiquette. I don't want to sour anyone else's blogging experience.

Family Warmth

This is another post from the archives – way before the Pandemic. I had every intention of writing a post tonight but then a headache began to brew and I have decided I need to listen to my body and rest.

Here in England…and in Wales for most of this week, it has been unseasonably mild. Yay!!! We have been outdoors…in the mild air. That is very helpful when there are so many of us.

Now, more than ever, I am looking forward to spring and summer ahead! Although, I wonder will January and February bring shivery bitter cold weather?

I have no idea why I took two coats up north with me. I took a navy raincoat and a huge navy thick winter coat. I didn’t really need either, for it did not rain, neither was it cold! Oh well – I am not complaining. I think I preferred the mild weather whilst I have been standing around waiting for trains and traipsing through the woods with family.

Family days, family get-togethers, family fun – oh what a merry week I have had indeed! So many stories to tell. The Welsh part of the family are superb fun. Lots of children running round. Lots of dads and uncles who run around and make far more noise than the children. Lots of home cooking and home baking, games, very loud laughter and reminiscing, and talking about various travels. They have all travelled extensively as volunteers, so it is fascinating to hear stories and tales from their work.

The family who are scattered across Merseyside, Cheshire and Lancashire are also a lot of fun. But in a different way. It always feels like a cross between a Butlin’s entertainment evening and a fund-raising telephone night. That’s mainly due to my brother-in-law’s uncle. He is always the entertainments manager. Lots of shop-bought food and shop bought gateaux and trifle, lots of dancing and singing (usually in the form of karaoke), lots of games and pouring over old photograph albums reminiscing about how every one used to look and parties from the past.

A slightly different feel to the atmosphere, but still lots of family fun and games and laughter. In this mild weather…for some strange but adorable reason it was Calypso and Caribbean music that we ended up dancing to. All of us in a great conga procession weaving around the flower beds at midnight.

Oh families are fun! No presents, no decorations (we don’t waste money on fluff and glitter or what retailers tell us to buy) – just time with my wonderful family – I am so thankful for them! I did not think I would be dancing to “Hot Hot Hot” in December!

 

 

https://swimmersweek.wordpress.com/2018/12/30/thankful/

I Took The Plunge

You may (or may not) remember that a few months ago, I made the decision to change my “theme” after almost three years of blogging. I only did it for one reason really. I wanted a theme that allowed me to display my books, each with a link to Amazon.

I changed my theme, and I had some lovely feedback….only…..well, that theme was just not really doing it for me. I have been very short on free time in recent months. Work – both paid and unpaid – has been busy!!! I am spending time with Jack, staying in touch with friends and family. I have relied on republishing some of my older posts during the past few months.

But everytime I looked at my site, I just felt a little deflated. I did not connect with the theme I had switched to. I wanted to go back to the first one that was so blue with a little turquoise – and so uplifting to me. I wanted my blog to be my happy little place – a place I go to share my feelings and my joys, and occasionally discuss challenges and how I have tried to overcome them.

Well….after an hour of thinking about it one night in bed….I decided I needed to change the theme again. I needed to find a theme that would allow me to make my blog a happy place again. I asked a couple of bloggers who have gorgeous sites which themes they were using. I decided to go for it!! I decided to take the plunge into a new theme.

Last night I did exactly that….and now….I love looking at my site. I can see there is the potential to do so much more….and I will. I just need to find some time to play around with widgets and the like!

I want my blog to be a site I enjoy. 95% of the time I stay in the WP Reader. But when I do visit my site, I want to enjoy it…and of course, I want you to enjoy it too!!

A Safer Place Than I Had Ever Known

That was my summer of love. Wrapped up in your arms, my heart was spreading wings and soaring into the blue skies above. My hand nestled in yours trusting you wholly, as you led me through gardens of fragrant blooms. Embraced by you, I was in a safer place than I have ever known.

The scent of sweet roses will bring back thoughts of you. Memories that excite a joy that fills up my belly. I can breathe in that joy and fill my lungs with the aroma your left behind. Until summer comes, I bury my face in my pillow and can just about detect faint traces of you.

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There is no fragrance as sweet to me as you Goldfinch.

Friendly Questions

I was recently tagged by Nova, the creator of My Namastè 365 Online to take part in:

20 Questions With Friends

answers to questions.jpg

Nova has asked some great questions and it has been an absolute pleasure to work on a post with my answers. None of them are silly at all – well maybe the one about hot sauce and ranch dressing! But I still answered it! I hope you enjoy as much as I did!

Finish the Thought*

1. Those words I couldn’t say…  

PLEASE DON’T GO, PLEASE STAY

Why didn’t I say that?

  • Because it would have been selfish?
  • Because I am a coward?
  • Because he might have refused to anyway?
  • Because I am not sure what I can offer him when I am still struggling with my head injuries?
  • Because if he did stay, he might have been unhappy?
  • Because goodbyes are always hard and if he stayed with me longer, eventually the goodbye when one of us became sick and lost our life would be a million times harder?

2. It’s quite simple really…  

JUST DO EXACTLY WHAT THE RECIPE SAYS

I like to bake, and I have success, but only because I do exactly what the recipe says. I don’t take liberties. I have no retention in my head for baking. Every time I bake, I am faithful to the recipe. If the instructions say FOLD, that means gentle, don’t beat the mix with all your might because you knock all the air out. Just do what the recipe says!

3. Sometimes I forget… 

IMG_20181216_151820

TO GO FOOD SHOPPING

I am so busy at times that I let my cupboards and fridge run completely bare! However, I always have a huge stock of different herbal teas and Nespresso capsules – I never neglect my supplies of those.

4. I can sum that up easily…  

love maths

LOVE

That seems to be the answer to most puzzles.

5. A famous person born on my birthday is… 

A LOSER WHO RULED AN ENTIRE COUNTRY AT ONE POINT

There was only one person I actually recognized and I was kind of dismayed he and I were born on the same date. There were lots of “famous” people Google listed, but if I have never heard of them how famous are they really?

The person I did recognize was a king who caused a lot of trouble and made himself rather infamous. However, he and I have nothing in common – the miserable so and so!

Firsts…?

1.Job?… 

RECEPTIONIST

My first paid job was working as a receptionist for a branch of the Royal Mail (national postal service) in Lancashire. It was very quiet. I was extremely bored. I decided to take books to read and study so that the time would go more quickly.

2. Thought in the morning?… 

headache.jpg

OUCH! COME ON MEL, YOU CAN DO THIS

Then I wander to the kitchen to take some pain-killers. This head pain each morning really is annoying!

3. Car?… 

NEVER OWNED ONE, BUT HAVE DRIVEN MANY…

The first car I ever sat in the driver’s seat and crawled slowly around an empty car park on an industrial estate was a Nissan Sunny which we called Vicky-Bob. We called her that because her number plate was VCK 808Y.

I have never owned a car but have driven a lot for work – some beautiful cars. I also had to drive one car that was so long that we called it “the hearse”. I have not driven since my head injuries though.

4. Decision you made as an adult?… 

Girl, Travel, Young, Summer, Vacation

AT THE AGE OF 18 I FELT I COULD GO PLACES!

I made the decision to travel to the Isle Of Man for a voluntary project even though I had exams that summer. I travelled back to the mainland on a Seacat day-pass for my exams and returned to the Isle of Man that evening so I could carry on with the project.

That kind of set the pattern for my life ever since. Juggling voluntary projects with other stuff that people told me was was important.

Of course I passed my exams! With top marks!

5. Concert?… 

HOT CHOCOLATE

I think I was about thirteen years of age when I saw them. I may have seen other live music before, my Dadda may have took me to see other musicians, but this was the first time I had gone to a live music event with my friends.

No I am not that old. I was born in the eighties…but Hot Chocolate have had a mighty good run.

This or That?

1. Hamburger or hot dog?

VEGGIE BURGER

I have been a vegetarian since I was six years of age. I vaguely remember Dadda taking us to MacDonalds in Southport (Merseyside) before then, where I tried a hamburger. I recall that I loved the gherkins. I don’t think I ever had a real hot dog, although I have had vegetarian frankfurters which tasted smoky salty weird to me.

2. Mountains or beach?

MOUNTAINS

I love both, but here in Britain, I think we have better mountains than we do beaches. There is nothing quite like the feeling of walking up a mountain and the exhilaration of the stunning views you are rewarded with.

3. Electric or standard tooth brush?

toothbrushes

STANDARD

The dentist and hygienist both told me off for brushing my teeth too often and too vigorously. I was brushing my gums away! So now I use extra soft toothbrushes and I am much more gentle. I only brush twice a day, and in between times I use floss and mouthwash.

4. Call or text conversations?

DEPENDS WHO I AM CONTACTING

I love talking to my family on the telephone or someone I love (like Goldfinch) …but if I need to keep things short and sweet texting is great. I wish I had talked on the phone more to Goldfinch. I was working over fifty hours a week for half of my relationship with him. So I had to text during break-times.

5. City life or country life?

IDEALLY COUNTRY LIFE

I have lived both way out in the sticks in the remote countryside, and I have lived in the heart of the city here in London. I am in London because there are a lot of volunteer projects here. I can be useful. I love the diversity of people here in London. London is not particularly English, it is multi-cultural and international in flavour.

But I genuinely feel cities are not a good thing. Sure they can be exciting, museums, galleries, restaurants and the like. But living in cities is not really what we were designed for. We should all spread out and learn to really live. It would be so satisfying if every human had some land of their own to look after and learnt to sow, cultivate and harvest crops, how to build their own home and furniture, how to live off the land rather than relying on a supermarket. It would be wonderful to see all humans living closer to nature.

Would You Rather…?

1. Would you rather become a creative person or a technical person?

TECHNICAL

I have never been particularly creative. But if I had the choice I would choose to expand my useful skills so that I could be able to help on more international construction and repair projects. I would live to be a technical engineer and have a host of different construction skills I was fully adept at.

2. Would you rather brush your teeth with hot sauce or with ranch dressing?

What a choice!!! Neither really!

ERM…HOT SAUCE…I THINK

I am not sure I have tried ranch dressing. I may have. But I like to eat my salad naked (not naked in the sense that some bloggers like to ski or zip-wire naked) that is, without dressing – the salad, not me. I tend to be always fully dressed when I eat salad or anything else.

Except for the time when Goldfinch arrived really late, and as I knew it was too late to cook (the aromas would have woken up my landlady as her bedroom is above my kitchen) I bought us some take-away food which we ate in my bedroom… but that’s another story, probably not for this website!

3. Would you rather have two permanent lazy eyes or always get nose bleeds at extremely embarrassing moments?

NOSE BLEEDS

I only say that because Goldfinch had a nose-bleed at an extremely embarrassing moment! Bless him, he tried to carry on. Blood all over my pillows and even on my forehead. But I loved making a fuss of him. I rather enjoyed being his nurse!

4. Would you rather eat pizza every day or never be able to eat pizza again?

NEVER EAT PIZZA AGAIN

I like pizza a lot…but it has to be vegetarian and non-dairy for me. More than pizza, I like variety. I would get really fed up of having the same food every day. So it would be much better for me to choose the never eat pizza again option as there are so many other foods I could enjoy.

5. Would you rather always get stuck in traffic or always have a really slow internet connection?

SLOW (OR EVEN NO) INTERNET CONNECTION

Other than sending e-mails to loved ones and using WordPress, I am pretty much a Luddite. I don’t have a device that has internet connection outside of this little nest…or the home of a close friend or relative who allows me to piggy-back on their broadband.

Being stuck in traffic is something I have experienced too many times and I don’t like it one bit. My Dad finds it incredibly frustrating. If there is no or slow internet connection, I would just carry on living. The internet is not life. It is just a tool. A very useful tool. But without it, life carries on.

Life is for living!

Got The Wings Of Heaven On My Shoes

Disney, Person, Human, Female

Jim Adams, aka Newepicauthor, the creator of A Unique Title For Me, is hosting SONG-LYRIC-SUNDAY and this week he has chosen the theme: HEAVEN/HELL

Well….I just wanted to pick the most cheerful song for today…I have been working so hard lately, and today is my day off and I just want to have fun with Jack and rest.

So, because this is the mood I am in…we are going with a little bit of John Travolta wiggling his hips. It is plenty enough to make me forget about work.

Well, you can tell
By the way I use my walk
I’m a woman’s man
No time to talk
Music loud and women warm
I’ve been kicked around
Since I was born
And now it’s all right, it’s OK
And you may look the other way
We can try to understand
The New York Time’s effect on man

Whether you’re a brother
Or whether you’re a mother
You’re stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive
Feel the city breakin’ and everybody shakin’
And we’re stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive
Ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive
Ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin’ alive

Well now, I get low and I get high
And if I can’t get either, I really try
Got the wings of heaven on my shoes
I’m a dancin’ man and I just can’t lose
You know it’s all right, it’s OK
I’ll live to see another day
We can try to understand
The New York Time’s effect on man

Whether you’re a brother
Or whether you’re a mother
You’re stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive
Feel the city breakin’ and everybody shakin’
And we’re stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive
Ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive
Ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin’ alive

Life goin’ nowhere
Somebody help me
Somebody help me, yeah
Life goin’ nowhere
Somebody help me
Somebody help me, yeah
Stayin’ alive

Well, you can tell
By the way I use my walk
I’m a woman’s man
No time to talk
Music loud and women warm
I’ve been kicked around
Since I was born
And now it’s all right, it’s OK
And you may look the other way
We can try to understand
The New York Time’s effect on man

Whether you’re a brother
Or whether you’re a mother
You’re stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive
Feel the city breakin’ and everybody shakin’
And we’re stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive
Ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive
Ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin’ alive

Life goin’ nowhere
Somebody help me
Somebody help me, yeah
Life goin’ nowhere
Somebody help me
Somebody help me, yeah
I’m stayin’ alive

Written by: Barry Alan Gibb and Maurice Ernest Gibb

Thank You For Being You, Wonderful You… And Not Somebody Else

I moved to this little nest on 28th December 2016. One evening something happened which made me feel positive about being here. Before then I had been very unsure whether I would be able to settle here.

Have you ever been through a crises in confidence?  Perhaps after a series of failures, you felt inadequate to face any more future challenges.  Or maybe trials had eroded your optimism and worry had started to gnaw at your outlook.  I am going to tell you how a complete stranger imparted encouragement to me at a time my confidence was failing. She probably had no idea what her words meant to me.cash

I was itching to be back in London. I had spent almost a year with friends and family after I was attacked and was hoping that now I was physically and emotionally ready to take on the Big Smoke.

My first situation when I returned to London turned out disastrously.   I will save the story for another post, because I am going have to think very carefully about the words I choose regarding the man who was my boss…hmm… I gave my notice in after a couple of weeks and moved to another part of London.  However, whilst I was in a better situation, I had a knockback when I was involved in an accident at work and had to be taken to hospital for a CT scan.  After being discharged, the hospital personnel told me I needed to rest rest rest before I thought about work again.  I admitted to my bosses that I would not be able to say when I would be safe to return to work and we agreed to end my temporary contract.  So I spent the next few weeks with family again.

Anyway… still determined to get back to my life and career as a full-time volunteer in London, I found lovely accommodation and another job and I moved down to London a couple of months later, 28th December, ready to start work the following week.

I was a tad anxious though.  My previous experiences had made me doubt my capabilities to be… what is that word that helps you to achieve your goals?  Oh yes, TENACIOUS!

failureIn all honesty, I didn’t really have much fight in me after everything I had been through. I was rather feeble emotionally and was almost expecting I was going to have yet another failure.

At times, we can be our own worst critic.  I was frustrated with myself, frustrated with my body for letting me down (as I perceived it).  It was gnawing at my confidence that I was still not fully “back on my feet”.  Was it me?  Was there something wrong with me that meant I was doomed for persistent failures?

What if I let down my new landlord and my new boss?  What if I failed again?

It was with thoughts like these swimming around my head that I moved back to London. There was a young woman sitting near me on the train journey down to London I have often wished I could thank.  I brought a large suitcase and a small suitcase when I moved.  She kindly helped me to get both cases all the way from the railway station and onto the underground train I needed to catch, even though she was going a different way.  I cannot remember her name.  I only know that she worked for St Georges Hospital and she was hoping one day to work in plastic surgery, treating those who have suffered from burns and injuries in war torn areas.

What would I do about my crises of confidence?

Cash-machineThe first night I arrived I went to a cash machine on the local high street.  As I approached and pulled my debit card out to insert into the machine, I noticed that a large amount of money was sticking out of the machine.  I did not touch it, but it looked to be around £200-£300 at least.

I was not sure what to do at first.  The machine would not allow me to insert my own card.  It was beeping and there was a prompt notice on the screen asking the user to take the cash.  A man drew up on a motorcycle and stood behind me waiting his turn to use the machine.  I looked up and down the high street wondering if there was anyone nearby who was running back for the cash they had forgotten, but there was nobody else around.  I was a bit worried that if I asked the man behind me, he might grab the cash himself and make a run for it.  I felt responsible to guard the money I had found.  The was a mini-supermarket nearby.  Maybe I should take the cash inside there for safe -keeping and report to them what had happened.  Then I remembered there is a police phone number for non-emergencies.  So I rang 101 and asked what I should do.  The administrator on the line asked me if there was anyone else around.  She was very kind and expressed her sympathy for me standing there bewildered because somebody else’s money was in jeopardy.

Suddenly I saw a woman (I would have guessed in her sixties) running back towards us. She was returning with the horror of realizing she had forgotten the money she had just withdrawn.  I reassured her it was still there.  She was so glad, so grateful.

It was this lady, this complete stranger who then said to me the words I used in the title of this post:

Thank You For Being You, Wonderful You… And Not Somebody Else

The lady on the phone at 101 had heard everything.  She was also very kind.  She told me that some people would just have run off with the money without a thought.  She said “that lady is right, you should take her words to heart.”

I walked home with tears in my eyes.  Those words had such a powerful effect on me. They were desperately needed words that bolstered my courage.  I had a reminder that what defines success or failure, is not how much money you earn, the career you are striving within, the qualifications and accolades you may have been awarded.  Success is not having a perfect situation, a perfect body, perfect health, or being able to say you have never been bullied and you have never been the victim of a crime.

Qualities of the heart…that’s what my parents aimed to cultivate in us.   They wanted to be sure that where-ever life took us, whether we were in company or all alone, we would live by the values they had sounded down into our little hearts.  There would be times when we might not know exactly what to do.  We might meet challenges that bamboozled us!  But so long as we stayed within the beautiful lessons for life that we had been taught we would be successful.

What a wonderful thing to say to someone, and a complete stranger at that!  I would love that lady to know how much I appreciated her expression of thanks on my first night back in London.

Thank You For Being You, Wonderful You… And Not Somebody Else

Men Who Were Born In The Seventies

I was born in the early eighties. Since I left school, every man I have ever developed a crush on was born in the seventies. Every man I have ever had a meaningful relationship with has been born in the seventies.

They have all been men who wore suits in their day jobs. But all of them have had hobbies that were different from mine, but fascinating. They all liked music, science-fiction and some form of art.

Jammy (my teenage sweetheart) liked photography. Goldfinch liked to draw and paint. And in between Jammy and Goldfinch, every man I have been out with for any length of time was into something creative. I am including the men who had so many models of Starship Enterprise and other space-craft models in their bedrooms.

They have all been groovers. Real groovers. They liked dancing. None of them claimed to be great dancers, but it was never difficult to get them up on the dance floor.

Now I am in a bit of a pickle. Goldfinch has gone…he is on the other side of the planet. My next date with him might never even happen. Who knows? We have talked about this and I have given it thought. Eventually I may find I am drawn to someone here. But I suspect that will be a man born in the seventies. This Saturday I may be (still undecided) going to a party with a male friend, who is in his seventies – (HOLD ON, THAT IS A SERIOUS TYPO!) – nope, sorry, he is not in his seventies, he was born in the seventies! Not that I wouldn’t go to a party with a man in his seventies – in many respects that would be less complicated.

However, there are two men, both of whom I have known for some time, who have both asked me out several times and made very clear overtones to me that they like something about me. One is much older than me. Twenty years older. He was born in the early sixties. The other, is ten years younger than me. He is a nineties kid!

And to tell you the truth…it feels a bit weird. I don’t want to sound judgemental. I don’t have a problem with age gaps. I have some friends who are married to someone with a large age gap – even women married to much younger men. They seem very happy.

It’s just not something I have ever experienced myself. The biggest age gap I have experienced myself was fourteen years. That was Jack who was like a big teenager! I get on with the two men who have asked me out. I get on with people of all ages. It’s just the whole physical, romantic side that I have no desire of sharing with either of them.

I don’t think it is just their age. It’s also their characters I guess. The younger man, well, he makes me feel old. He things he does, the way he speaks – I feel like a granny because he seems so immature. The older man – well, I think I would find it easier to spend time with him. He makes me feel young – which is a nice feeling. With him, I think the main issue is height. I am five foot eight. He is at least an inch shorter than I am. I think that may be why it always seems as if he is looking at my bosom.

Aaaaaah sigh!

What I really want is a six foot one Australian who is ten years older than I am, but has such a great lust for life that he has the energy of a twenty year old, but all the wisdom of a mature man. I want Goldfinch. Aaaaah sigh!

The First Time I Read The Word Exquisite

I actually remember the first time I ever read the word “exquisite”. It sent shivers up and down my spine and filled me with excitement. There was something special about that word, it was incredibly alluring. I have included the verse I read when I was just a little girl that filled me with anticipation.

Around this time of year, I am longing for bleak, grey winter to be over and longing for spring. Every day I feel excited as I anticipate the colour and warmth and life returning.

Sometimes it is hard to wait for the good times ahead. But I know they are coming. Nothing will stop the march of the seasons. I am full of hope, no matter how bitterly cold and dismal it is right now.

Whenever I turn on the news or read a newspaper it seems obvious that this world is quite lost, in need of a great rescue and recovery operation.

I am reminded of that seem feeling. I am full of hope. No matter how bitterly cold and ghastly this world becomes (and I am sure it will get worse before change comes), I am full of conviction that this winter will end and much brighter times are ahead.

I have solid reason for hope. Whatever source gives you hope, I am sure you too feel that same anticipation and longing for an exquisite era ahead.

“right hearted people will possess the earth

and find exquisite delight in the abundance of peace”

The Expenses Policy Expert

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The weekly writing prompt from Sarah Elizabeth Moore has stumped me this week, because nowadays, I am essentially a “jack of all trades, master of none”!

That may be obvious after my recent post which gave you an idea of all the different types of work I have immersed myself in in order to earn my “bread and butter”:

There was a time when I was an expert. During the eight years I worked in finance, there was one particular area where I really was the expert. The company had a policy on the expense claims that could be submitted by employees for travel and other business expenses. It was a long policy, a very long policy. According to the long document, it was originally put together by the directors of the company. But realistically, it was probably not them, but someone who worked in the accounts department or personnel department. Nobody seemed to want to claim responsibility for the contents of the expenses policy. They all said it was drawn up before their time.

When I took over the expenses ledger and was dealing with hundreds of claims each week from employees up and down the country, it became apparent that nobody really understood the policy. My manager did not understand it, the finance controller did not understand it, the finance director did not understand it, none of the directors understood it.

So I read it all, and re-read it, and circled parts that did not make sense and brought them to the attention of my manager. After the contradictions had been clarified, the full expenses policy was published on the company intranet. For the following few years I had four different supervisors, all of whom I had to train and explain the expenses policy to. I was the expert. I just made sure that if there were any issues, I presented them to my supervisor so that they could take the issue to the manager or director. If you ever have a boss – the key to good relations is to try to make your boss look good. Believe me, it makes your working life much more pleasant. Don’t be a glory hunter. Your boss will make your life miserable.

I realized that I am quite good at reading, absorbing, applying policies and explaining them to others. I know it sounds rather boring, but I was receiving scores of phone-calls a day asking me to explain areas of the expenses policy. Nobody else seemed able to answer those questions. Everyone knew to ring Mel – she will answer all of your questions.

Even though it is something I was very good at, I don’t want to go back to a job where I am tied to a desk and staring at a screen all day and talking on the phone. I prefer to work with people, in a role in which I feel I am really helping people, or to be a “jack of all trades”, doing all sorts of physical work and wherever possibly working outside in the fresh air.

 

__________

What about you? What are you truly an expert at? Write a post and tell us and please link back to Sarah’s writing prompt:

Writing Prompt #4

Panic After A Pickle With A Portuguese Man

It was not only in the accommodation I was living in that I was having challenges that came from men who did not seem to realize how uncomfortable they made me. I published this post a while ago, but it describes an incident that occurred during the time I was in my first “tied-accommodation” post and facing almost daily harassment:

I had a little incident with a man today.  I was in a bit of a pickle and I panicked.  Now, I am wondering if I over-reacted, and I feel bad.  You can judge me…it’s alright.  I am aware that I did not handle the situation perfectly.

I had just jumped off the tube when a stranger brushed against me and then immediately apologized.  I replied, “No problem”.  As we came down the steps he was looking at me and smiling.  When we reached the end of the steps, he put his arm forward and touched my arm and said “this way”.  I was just a tiny bit freaked out.  He would not know why I have reason to react awkwardly to a stranger touching me.  I looked at him and clearly told him “no thanks”.  I very deliberately walked the opposite way straight into the newsagents within the station, WHSmith, even though I didn’t need to buy anything.

WHSmith

Once I was in WHSmith, I looked at a few items I sometimes pick up on my travels.  I decided there was no point buying anything right there and hoped now I could just carry on with my journey.  As I was leaving the shop, he was standing there in front of me.  I may have been imagining it, but he seemed to be watching me.  He smiled at me and said “Hi”.  I said “Hi” and walked out with a very quick pace.  He had not done anything terribly invasive, but for some reason, he had triggered my panic buttons.

I walked through the barriers and then did a U-turn to head up to the busiest part of the street even though that is not where I was headed.  I just needed to know there were other people around.  I had panic running up and down my spine telling me not to go anywhere isolated.  I was walking so quickly that my silly little shoes kept sliding off my feet.  He ran up beside me and he asked me if he could have some shelter under my umbrella.  I gave him a look which I thought said “not on your nelly!” which he did not seem to interpret correctly.  (Now I was starting to feel trapped).  He asked me to walk with him towards the bus station.  I told him I was going the opposite way.  He said that was fine, but he carried on walking with me.

portuguese tartsHe told me he is from Portugal and asked me if I had ever been and would I like to go.  (I have many Portuguese friends and know a few Portuguese expressions but did not tell him anything.  Even my sister Mandy has learnt enough Portuguese to have conversations about art and order a few pastéis de nata when we are in town together.  We even have Portuguese connections through marriage.  Our Helen married a very handsome Portuguese man and then when his best friend came over from Portugal for the wedding he met one of my best friends Laura…and it was happily ever after for them too.)  I was not liking the attention from a complete stranger so I did not respond to his questions.

He decided to ask me where I was from.  I said Liverpool – that is where I amUmbrella from, although I have not lived there for over ten years.  He then put one of his hands on my umbrella very firmly.  He asked my name.  I was starting to feel very threatened.  His grip on the handle of my umbrella was so strong.  (Maybe he wanted the umbrella and was not really interested in me.)

I told him that I knew he was just being friendly, but that I was not comfortable sharing any more information about myself, because he was a complete stranger.  When he objected, I just confirmed it was a no saying, “I don’t mean to be rude and please don’t take it personally, but this is the world we live in today”.  He told me that although we were strangers he would like to get to know me.  He asked if he could take me for something to drink or eat.  I cried “no thank you, I am headed to meet friends”.

He asked me if I was going shopping.  I was starting to get a bit frazzled.  He offered to hold my umbrella for us so I could rest my arm.  Again, I declined, “thank you but I am going inside now anyway.”  My umbrella has a button in the handle that pulls it in, so I clicked it.  He said he would like to talk to me until I met my friends and maybe we could go for a drink another time.  He then asked me my name again.  I felt like crying, “I am sorry, but I have told you I don’t feel comfortable simply because you are a stranger.”

I saw two security guards in big hi-vis yellow coats and ran towards them.  I didn’t say anything to them.  I just stood beside them until the man who had been walking with me backed off.

I know I have a very good reason to be nervous around men I don’t know…but do you think I was rude???  Do you think I over-reacted?

There is not much I can do about it now…I am just feeling a bit unkind.  Yet at the time I really wanted to get away from him and he did not seem to pick up on the vibes I was sending out.  I thought I was making it very clear that it was a no!  I was saying no and he was not listening.  He just made me feel more and more uncomfortable.

I know some women would not have minded, they perhaps would not have felt as threatened as I did.  It’s just after that night in the park, I have panic buttons I did not have before.  He triggered them all.  I ended up feeling like a hedgehog or porcupine with all my sharp needles bristling!  It is funny because my lovely Goldfinch was a complete stranger when I met him, but he did not make me feel uncomfortable.  He certainly did not trigger any of my panic buttons.  Aaaah, Goldfinch…I forgot I was going to tell you about the lovely day we had together on Wednesday.

I am not going to let myself brew on this one.  Perhaps the Portuguese stranger was a lovely man.  I did not feel comfortable though.  For whatever reason, I had every right to say “No thank you!”, just as I did with my workmate in “Icky Sticky”.

Hi-Vis

What a shame this is the world we live in.  I really don’t like feeling as if I have been rude to someone, but in this world, there are times when you have to be on the defence, cautious and you have to flee to a point of safety.  When you are in a pickle that makes you panic…just run to safety.  That is one of the reasons hi-vis jackets were created…for moments when a stranger crosses the line and we turn into damsels in distress.

(Thanks hi-vis jacket designers…these are my go-to whenever I have a panic moment!)