Tag Archives: work

Missing My Sleepy Saturday Morning

By the time you read this post I will be on my way to work. Normally I work long hours Wednesday and Thursday and then a fifteen hour work day on a Friday which ends at midnight. But this week I am also working on Saturday. So I am completely missing out on my nice slow sleepy Saturday morning this week.

I am dreading Saturday for so many reasons! For a start, I will be tired from the moment I wake up after my marathon Friday. Mornings are hilarious for me! I wake up with my head feeling as if someone is squeezing it in a vice and I do this weird crawl/shuffle towards my pain killers and water.

Then I make my way in the same mode to the Nespresso machine. I sip my coffee and watch the BBC Breakfast news, although at that point I cannot actually take any information in. But the presenters  have friendly faces and that’s all that matters. Just a nice cheerful face with smiles to encourage me that it is all going to be alright. I just need to wait for about twenty minutes or so for that pain to ease off. By that time I am ready for breakfast.

Today breakfast was a bagel. It was very nice. I decided I needed a treat because I know Saturday is going to be a long old day. So I bought some cinnamon and raisin bagels. Very pleasant start to the day I have to say.

Normally two girls who are very good at their job work together on Saturdays. Saturdays are by far our busiest day. In fact it is intense. I have only ever done one Saturday and it was a big shock to me. However, because both of the girls will be away tomorrow, I will be working the very busy Saturday shift with my manager (who is really really good at her job) and I am petrified.

The pace will be intense because we have such a massive foot-fall on Saturdays. I am going to be flapping – I just know it! I have a feeling my manager is going to wonder what I am doing, because I will be overwhelmed I am quite sure. Clients are going to be asking me all sorts of questions I can’t answer, and in front of my manager, I can’t really say, “I’m new, I don’t have a clue!”  Maybe I am not giving myself credit where it’s due. I know customers are pleased with me for being friendly, helpful and a good communicator. My technical knowledge is so limited though. Oh well, I have known I was going to be doing this coming Saturday for some time, I have to go through with it.

To be honest it is probably a really good opportunity for me to learn a lot from my manager. She has over thirty years experience in her field and she explains things so clearly. It is probably a priceless chance to expand my knowledge and understanding of our policies and processes.

To give me something to look forward to…I have a roasted vegetable and hummus sandwich which I am looking forward to devouring at lunch time.

Oh boy oh boy – so worried about my long working Saturday! I do hope London folk are kind to me! I am just a kiddo and I have no idea what I am talking about half the time, only I need to look as if I am not completely hopeless in front of my manager!





Lemon Curd Kindness

Random_Acts_Logo-296x300I have woken up craving lemons, well more specifically it is lemon curd that I am craving. I eye-balled some in the supermarket the other day and resisted the impulse to sneak it into my shopping trolley. But now I am wishing I had given into my desires.

However…I did buy lemons and with other ingredients I already had, I baked some lemon slices which I am taking over to a friend’s home later this afternoon. I keep wanting to gobble one, but I am going to be good.

Well…it is thinking of lemons and lemon curd that has inspired me to write about a person I want to share with you, in connection with my nomination from Michelle, the creator of Mws R Writings for the Random Acts Of Kindness Award:


I started a new job back in August. New jobs are always a bit nerve-racking aren’t they. Well, so far, it seems to be going well. I am a bit worried because I think we are going to be even busier leading up to the holidays and I am still not as fast as my other colleagues. I am getting there bit by bit. But every week there is something new.

All of the other staff have been very lovely and very helpful. I am so glad to be part of a team who are so kind and have been so patient with me.

But I wanted to mention one of my colleagues particularly. She is Italian and like most of my Italian friends, is very lively and vivacious. She is very good at her job and is super diligent. She is soooooo helpful. There have so many times when she has kindly explained things to me and shown me how to improve my work. Not long after I started she bought me a delicious lemon curd muffin from a local coffee shop. She is indeed a very kind person who commits random acts of kindness all the time! I am sure everyone loves her as much as I do.

I was thinking about work. I really like my new job and especially the people I am working with, but I have had some really tough situations to endure in previous employment. When you have difficult, obnoxious colleagues – they can make your working hours a nightmare. I am sure I am not the only one who has been in a job that is hard to endure. Have you had the feeling of dread when you think about facing your workmates again? Or perhaps it’s the clients or customers that make the job unbearable? Have you ever had days at work when you were close to tears most of the day, or had that feeling of wanting to walk out on a job and never go back?

Well, kindness is sometimes the ray of sunshine that keeps you going. So of all the places to be kind (and home should of course be the foremost haven of kindness) please remember to be kind to your workmates and colleagues. Some of your workmates may not have a kind word waiting for them at home, they may face hostility or abuse. A kind word at work can help dissipate stressful situations. Kindness can sustain the heavy hearted. You might not have any idea how close to tears your colleagues might be.

I keep meaning to bake and take something into work for my new colleagues – it’s just that I don’t have any time on Wednesdays to bake, so I would have to make something on a Tuesday and then take it in on Thursday… I am going to have to work out when I can bake something and take it in so it is fresh for everyone to enjoy. That’s the very least I can do after all the kindness that has shown to me by my new colleagues!


Queen Of The Cleaners

Imagine being assigned the task of training thousands of young single men everything that they some how did not seem to learn at home. To be fair, some of the young single men were already proficient with domestic tasks, but an embarrassingly large number had not the faintest clue of what to do to in the clean and tidy department.

Now who could take on a task like that?  A very special lady affectionately called Auntie Margo by those thousands of young men!  She was the undisputed Queen of The Cleaners for decades!

For almost sixty years Margaret’s assignment as a full-time volunteer was training young people to be fully domesticated and useful so that they can be sent anywhere in the world and will know how to look after the accommodation they are provided. (Her first assignment had been in the kitchen where she cooked and baked for the volunteers). She trained them in all the tasks that were required of them if they wanted to remain in their career as full-time international volunteers.

Auntie Margo was strict.  She made sure those boys took their responsibilities seriously. Notes would be left to remind a young man if he had not done something.  If a young man was careless and neglectful on a regular basis, they would be reported to the accommodation manager.  He might have “a word” with them. If the young man still did not improve their habits, then the accommodation manager might have to ring the supervisor of the young man while he is at work (for example the young man might have a volunteer assignment as an electrician or a carpenter/joiner or a job in accounts or in the huge kitchens or in the garage as a mechanic) and explain that the young man should be asked to leave his work assignment and return to his accommodation immediately where Aunty Margo would meet him and give him a refresher training session in the domestic tasks required of him and the state to leave his room in when departing for work!

I think it was a fantastic arrangement!  Can you imagine if that was practised universally?  Being at work and having your boss approach you with the order that you need to go straight home and make your bed and empty the bin and pick your clothes up off the floor and then return to work at once!

Tasks included:

  • Making their own bed in the morning
  • Emptying their bins/recycling
  • Wiping their bathroom sink clean after washing or brushing their teeth
  • Using squeegee/cloth to wipe down their shower screen and tiles after showering
  • Washing their dishes, drying them and putting them away
  • Wiping down and drying their kitchen sink after using
  • Keeping their room tidy, free of clutter
  • Folding/hanging their clothes and putting them in drawers or in their closet
  • Cleaning/dusting/polishing/hoovering/mopping…all the basics of house-keeping!

Now some of the young single men had left their family home and were struggling to get used to life in London so far away from their family and friends. They may have been shy or lonely.  But there was always at least one person looking out for them and making sure that if they needed to talk, she always had the door to her house-keeping cupboard (which was an office and storage area) wide open.

I know many men now in their forties and fifties who say that when they first moved to London, it was Aunty Margo who made them feel welcome.  They made frequent trips to visit her and gobbled slices of fruit cake and guzzled tea while she listened to their challenges and gave them encouragement.

When I moved to London to become a full-time international volunteer, Aunty Margo was still working as a volunteer despite being in her nineties!  She no longer trained new volunteers, but she was one of a team of sixty house-keepers who she had been involved in training.  Each new volunteer is still trained by a house-keeper so that they know what is expected of them and they still have to take those responsibilities seriously.

In my third year as a volunteer working in an infirmary, we started to receive phone-calls from night security to say they were worried about Aunty Margo. Sometimes we would go down to the reception area at one o’clock in the morning and Aunty Margo would be working away with her feather duster and microfiber cloths polishing the glass tables.  Or she would be in the dining room at three o’clock in the morning waiting for hundreds of other volunteers to arrive for breakfast.  We kindly and tactfully helped her to realize the time and suggested she might want to rest.

Aunty Margo was showing the first signs of Alzheimer’s. Over the next two years it became obvious that it would be helpful for Aunty Margo to have more support. She moved into the infirmary and was assigned a team of carers to make sure she was safe 24-hours a day.  She is very energetic and powerful.  She loves people and conversation.  She loves singing and dancing.  She loves baking and knitting and drawing.

We had lots of visitors coming to check up on the incredibly popular Aunty Margo.  Even more memorable were the trips out of the infirmary (which were almost daily).  In nicer weather we often went out for a drive and went to animal parks, shops, garden centers, cafes or we took Aunt Margo to visit the house-keepers she adored.  But we took her to other locations.  She went to visit all the maintenance team (electricians, plumbers, joiners), she went to visit the gardeners, she went to visit the accounts department, the legal department, the garage full of mechanics.  She always caused a riot!

What a woman!  She brought all work to a stand-still as everyone wanted to come out and see dear Aunt Margo.  She loves people! She has the most fantastic sense of humour and it was gorgeous to see her laughing and joking with a big group of men, she would throw her head back and let out huge guffaws of laughter! And she would sing, and then everyone would sing!  The entire finance department would be swaying while they sang along with Aunty Margo!

This was her favourite song!  We have produced a video with hundreds of volunteers singing “Your Are My Sunshine” to play for Aunty Margo whenever we wanted to remind her of how much she was loved!

But Aunty Margo doesn’t seem to become down-hearted.  She is still going strong, a bundle of energy and fun, who loves people and loves life!  We like to take a feather duster when we go out, because she still wants to feel she is useful.  So whenever she can she will start dusting and polishing.

All of her efforts and hard work over the years are very much appreciated.  But more than anything it is her bubbly, vivacious, fun-loving, musical, warm-hearted, generous character that along with her dynamic energy has made her one of the most popular and loved volunteers.  I could share many many stories about her…I am sure I will share more (just keeping an eye on the length of this post) for almost every day with Aunty Margo was memorable!








Victorious Volunteers

One evening I had a phone-call.  It was rather out-of-the-blue.  Someone I had never met called me and asked a huge favour.  He sounded rather desperate on the telephone.

There had been a complete misunderstanding and miscommunication in a voluntary project he had been managing.  He was now very anxious because he had a charity event for hundreds of people scheduled and someone had let him down and pulled out of the pledge to decorate the venue literally at the very last minute.

The decorator who had made a pledge and then pulled out had referred the project manager to our main coordinator.  He had a huge team of volunteers who were skilled decorators.  However, he was not able to give any of his own time at such short notice because he already had other commitments.  Normally, projects are scheduled weeks, months or even years in advance.  His only suggestion was that the project manager ring some of the decorators and ask if any were available at short notice.

I was one of the decorators he contacted.  By the sound of things, he had not had much success!  Nobody was available at such short notice.  I was thoughtful.  Much as I have the volunteer spirit, I did have to hesitate for a moment.  I was about to move.  I was in the middle of packing all my belongings into one suitcase and one plastic box of lever arch files.  I had just been to visit my family to say goodbye to them as I was not sure how many months it would be until I would see them again.  I was due to return to the county I had been living in and then after a couple of shifts in a local nursing home I had promised to do, I would be moving to London.  I had a lot to do.  Lots of projects and commitments I had been involved in, now I was having to train others to take over.

constructionSo, in all honesty, the desperate plea from the project manager was something I did hesitate about.  I explained even if I could be available, it was not a one-person job.  It was a huge venue.  I could not do it alone in one day.  I said we need more help.  As he and I continued to discuss the task at hand, thoughts flooded my mind of how I first felt when I became a volunteer.  The excitement, the thrill, the satisfaction of learning completely new skills and achieving results I never imagined I was capable of.  The enjoyment of being part of a wonderful, willing team of volunteers who had such a joyful good humour.  It was not like any paid work I had ever been involved with.  I knew that if the project manager could muster a group of unskilled but willing enthusiastic volunteers then there was a definite possibility we could accomplish something.  I only had my own decorating tools.

On the day, I set off with three friends from the town I had been living in.  We drove a couple of hours and arrived at the venue at 6.15am.  One of our car party had volunteered to be a first-aider for the day because I was convinced that with a group of unskilled volunteers we would be needing a first-aider and first aid equipment.  My other two friends had been on voluntary projects but had never done any decorating.

When we arrived, we were thrilled to find a group of different ages, male and female. There were even three boys who had come on holiday for the weekend to visit some friends and who had been roped into helping.  One major help to maintaining the enthusiasm of the volunteers was the volunteer team who supplied breakfast, lunch, an evening snack, and rounds of hot and cold drinks and cake throughout the day.  Amazing!  Feed the workers!!!  Essential to the success of any voluntary project!

I knew there was only one way we could do this with one set of tools.  After a health and safety briefing, I explained each person would be given a task and as a team we would be like a production line.  I set a few straight to work with sandpaper in their hands, checking the walls to make sure they were ready for wall-papering.  Then two volunteers were given the task of the cutting table.  I gave them a training session to explain how the industrial wall-paper we were using worked, the need for precision, reverse hanging, how after the larger pieces were hung I would be asking them to cut precise measurements, wetting the back of the paper to the right level.  I gave them tape measures, pencils, cutting scissors.

Then I had a couple of pasters.  They had to paste the walls.  Then we had a couple of teams who would hang the large lengths of paper.  Each team was made of two.  One person would have to stand on the stepladder bearing the weight of the length of wall-paper, the other would have a spirit level to make sure everything was straight.  They had special spatula boards for smoothing the paper onto the wall.  One task I did not train anyone else in at first was cutting the seams in between each piece.  I decided until I knew how each person I worked I had better do that to myself to begin with (later on in the day I was able to assign someone that task and he did a fantastic job).  I also had some volunteers doing some painting and varnishing.

The process of wall-papering was started.  I trained others to paper smaller areas such as below windows, where we did not need any stepladders.  I asked one volunteer to make sure with very clean water she wiped off any excess paste that was showing.  A couple of volunteers picked up all the waste offcuts and rubbish and kept the whole area tidy and hazard free.  The team also helped out with cleaning all the equipment and removing everything from the venue so that it was ready for public use.

Sarah-Pattern-Matching (3)

Here is an idea of what the team were working on.  Personally, I was immensely pleased with all of them.  I knew there were some itching to learn another task than the one I had originally given them, so I did give them the chance to have a go later in the day when I knew we were steaming ahead.

Well…we did it!  With a team who had never used industrial wall-paper, some of whom had never even lifted a paintbrush or attempted any kind of decorating.  With just one set of tools and a lot of cake and cups of tea, an incredibly willing attitude and a lot of beautiful qualities like humility, patience and willingness to be trained and corrected, that marvellous team achieved what at one stage had seemed impossible.

Thank you thank you thank you to all of those amazing volunteers.

The project manager was beaming with delight.  He sent me photos of the event that had been scheduled.  A few years later I bumped into him in London.  I did not recognize him at first, but he remembered me.  He was still brimming over with gratitude and enthusiastically told the party he was with what had been accomplished on that special day.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the whole world was a team of volunteers who were going to work together to clean up this planet.  Everyone willing and eager to take on any task given to them.  All happy to learn new skills and humble enough to learn and be corrected.  We would not stop until the whole planet was clean and there was a satisfactory home for each person – nothing ostentatious, just something that was comfortable and suitable for the environment where it was situated.  I am sure there would be some volunteers given the task of the catering, key members of the work force…food fuels the volunteers.

All volunteers, no glory hunters, nobody accruing huge financial commercial assets, a huge wonderful team accomplishing what people once thought was impossible!  Do you have any idea how large the smiles of the volunteers would be once they were able to stand back and realize the results?  What a victory for the human family that would be!





When I Grow Up…


No, it is not 12th August…I am just very behind with my writing.  My drafts folder has twenty posts which I have started but need to finish.  Last month turned out to be a bit crazy and so, here I am trying to catch up.

I was really taken with  the writing prompts from Sarah Elizabeth Moore in her August Write away Challenge, so although I did not have time to keep up with them during August, I am going to crack on with the prompts that caught my attention because they were brilliant writing prompts and she presented them so beautifully.

So my answer to:

Well, for a start I did not want to grow up at all.  It really distressed me when I hit the age of ten.  Everyone teased me, “now you are in double figures”, and I knew at that point there was no turning back!  I wanted to be a child forever.  I am sure many of you would have had similar sentiments at one stage that being an adult has always seemed an unavoidable outcome.  But if we could remain in a Peter Pan state, many of us would take that option.

Now, at a very early age, adults would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up.  I hated that question.  I had a vague idea of what everyone on the planet should be doing when they grow up, caring for the animals, growing vegetation, building their own house and furniture, making their own clothes and curtains, and supporting their neighbours, enjoying happy times together, eating, dancing, singing.  I think I described my vague idea of how things would turn out for me in this post:

Later, I had a little friend at school who was very creative, I was always academically minded – maths, reading, comprehension, writing were my strengths.  I could not draw or  play an instrument or design something. (I did love sports though.)  I was fascinated my my little friend and she did influence me…in fact I think she is the reason I became vegetarian!

So…when my teacher recorded each one of us saying into a microphone, “When I grow up I want to be a…”, my idea came straight from my little friend.  So when it was my turn, I announced to the class and to my teacher: “When I grow up I want to be a…sculpture.”

I had not realized that a person who carves a sculpture is called a sculptor.  Oh well!  It gave my teacher a laugh.

I was probably seven or eight years old when I started to stand out with the ferocious pace at which I worked through every comprehension exercise, workbook and reading book the school possessed.  The teachers even at primary school started trying to fill my little head with ideas of being a doctor or lawyer or politician like some of my other relatives.  But I had already rejected that idea in my young heart.

Why?  Well, when I was six years old I was given a public speaking assignment in front of an audience of around two hundred.  The theme I was assigned was bizarre considering I was only six.  It was “What is the value of a university education?”  My first question for my mum was, “what is university?

Well, off I went and read all sorts about universities…and I came to the conclusion a university education does not guarantee the career of your choosing and many young people become involved in harmful habits while living on a university campus.  I presented the results of my research with conviction and won the public speaking contest.  But the information I had read had taken root in my heart.  I fought the idea of going to university the rest of my schooling life, which is pretty hard when you get A grades in every subject except art and 100% scores in maths tests.

I did understand the need to be able to work once I left school to earn money.  My parents had taught me a hard work ethic.  But at school they, kept on trying to get me to choose a goal, a form of work that I would enjoy and find satisfying.  It was very stressful to be asked this question when I truly had no idea what I wanted to do.  I told them:

  • A bunjee jumping instructor
  • A canoeing instructor
  • A spy
  • An actress
  • A writer
  • A journalist

That was good enough for my teachers…they helped me to develop a career plan in order to become a journalist.  Did I want to be a journalist?  Nah!!!!  But it did help to have something to suggest to the teachers, so they would leave me alone.

My parents wanted me to go to university because they were worried that without a university education I would struggle to make ends meet.  I eventually enrolled on a course to train to be a legal secretary and then after achieving my diploma within a year…I ended up working in finance for eight years.  But I have also earnt money by cleaning, gardening, decorating, walking dogs, cooking, driving and working in healthcare.  I like variety.

constructionHowever, this was just paid part time work, in order to earn my bread and butter.  I knew exactly what I wanted to be the moment I walked onto a construction site as a volunteer.  From then on, I knew what I wanted to be for the rest of my life – a volunteer, working on projects wherever there was a need, teaching people the skills I had been taught.

I was not wrong.  I have learnt an array of useful skills that can be a help on projects all over the world.  I have always had more than I need, and far far more friends than I can keep up with.  I have had incredible opportunities to travel.  My life has been rich and exciting.  I view paid work as a way to earn my bread and butter.  But my career, the purpose of my life is to get involved in as many projects I can as a volunteer.

I still think that the way the world works right now is upside down and back to front…I think the vague idea I had at the age of five, of what everyone on the planet should be doing when they grow up – caring for the animals, growing vegetation, building their own house and furniture, making their own clothes and curtains, and supporting their neighbours, enjoying happy times together, eating, dancing, singing – was very sensible actually.

One thing is for sure…if you do have a demanding career after years of studying at university…I hope you also have a good work/life balance – ways to relax and refresh yourself, a hobby, a loving family or group of friends.







Wonderful Wednesdays

It is Wednesday afternoon.  This is one of my favourite times of each week.  It is my own personal house-keeping day!  HAPPY PLACE!!!  I clean, wash and iron all afternoon.  (On Wednesday morning I help my landlady with her shopping and gardening and sometimes do some cooking for her.)  By the time I have finished, my ickle abode is sparkling.  I love seeing it super glossy and ready to invite anyone in.  I don’t live too far away from the Queen.  I am sure she would be honoured to visit this little nest after I have polished everything up.  After finishing all my work, I reward myself with a luxurious soak in the bath tub.  If it is early enough, I look for something on BBC i-player or ITV i-player to watch until bedtime.  I am hoping to squeeze in an episode of Poirot tonight.  Sometimes a glass of wine might be part of my reward…but not in recent weeks, as I am trying to be strict with myself so that I can lose a bit of puppy fat.  I want to be as almost perfect as it is possible for my beloved Goldfinch.

Say it with me: “ONCE ON THE LIPS….FOREVER ON THE HIPS!!!”  Do they call that a mantra?

I am a methodical and thorough house-keeper.  I follow a set route so that nothing is missed.  I have a schedule for work that does not need to be done every single week.  “Projects” that are either scheduled for once a month, once every two months, once every three months, or once every six months.  I don’t vacuum my mattress or soft furnishings, or clean the inside of cupboards, or defrost my freezer every week.  They all have set times on my house-keeping schedule.  I genuinely enjoy cleaning.  I have worked with an amazing group of house-keepers who trained me in their methods and showed me the most useful pieces of equipment to use.  I limit the use of chemicals and prefer natural products including vinegar.

I cannot tell you how good I will feel later today when everything has finished.  The elation of gratifying contentment and the comfort of knowing I did what I was supposed to and my parents would be so proud of me.  I have cleaned most rooms.  I am just about to have my dinner and then afterwards I will clean my kitchen area.  I have recently changed the order I clean.  Before, I used to start with the bathroom, then move onto the kitchen and then the bedroom, study, halls and lounge area.  Then I would make myself some dinner (making a mess in the kitchen again and still be left with a stack of ironing with a full tummy that just made me want to snooze.  I realized it was not working.  Now I do the ironing after I have cleaned the bathroom and put all of my clothes and bed linen away before I clean the other rooms.  I leave the kitchen until after I have had dinner.


It makes so much more sense.  Above is a photo of my kitchen area (I have just moved the toaster and kettle and other items onto a little table so it is easier to clean everything.) Super easy to clean.  It won’t take me long, and then rewarding myself can begin.  You might be able to spot some food splashes…but remember, I have not started cleaning yet.

Perhaps one of the best things about Wednesday is bedtime.  I never tire of slipping into fresh bed linen and breathing in sweet lily scent.  Aaaaaaah!  One of the most delicious events of the week.

Well, I shall delay my kitchen cleaning for no longer.  The sooner I start, the sooner I can enjoy that blessed feeling of “My work is done here, I can put my feet up and relax”.  One of the lovely things about life, work and then relax with that snuggly hug of a feeling – satisfaction.  Everything is good!…as someone very famous once said…several times…