Thursday, May 29, 2008

Hay Festival

Just back from Hay-on-Wye dear reader, so my apologies for not updating for a while...

It has rained all week on the famous literary festival but that didn't dampen our spirits. We had a fabulous week, and I have to confess I haven't read a single book (although I made it through one and a half editions of The Guardian, a record for me in such a small amount of time).

Roger McGough's poetry was hilarious (and his voice is perfection), Marcus Brigstocke and Tim Brooke-Taylor were amusing, Allan Ahlberg is the nicest man in the world and bees, it turns out, are under global threat. Stonehenge was built using highly simple triganometry (simple enough to go straight over my head!), and General Sir Mike Jackson is everything a soldier should be. But the cream on the top of it all was Jools Holland (accompanied by Marc Almond, Ruby Turner and of course the entire Rhythm and Blues Orchestra). Boogying on down to such an incredible performance (in wellies of course) was the perfect end to a fun week with great friends. I am tired, muddy, saturated in wine, but happy.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

In times of need...

.... you need a PR person.

No seriously.

My final drinks with Hotwire folk on Friday were marred only by the fact that two people had their bags stolen from a busy table, occupied at all times. These thieves are fast. Anyway, enough about them, they don't deserve any attention.

Fact is when Maria's Mulberry bag (inc. house keys, car keys, wallet, phone, BlackBerry...) was lifted, a crack team of 5 of us got straight on the case. Given a laptop by the pub manager we commandeered his office and Maria Wrote A List. Hindered only slightly by the fact I had handed back my trusty BlackBerry only hours earlier, Mairi took the role of finding phone numbers online while the rest of us called around Natwest, Nationwide, Egg... stopping the dasteredly thieves in their tracks.

What other profession - and its inherent skillset - would be useful in an unusual situation?

Saturday, May 24, 2008

What a mess!!!!!

Now I am officially unemployed I can get down to some serious packing. So today I have been ruthless and have a number of new boxes stacked and ready for sealing and chucking in the loft.

The problem is they are heavy, so they will have to stay where they are until I can coerce a helper for the heavy work!

The other problem is that I am beginning to get left with random things that don't fit the categories of boxes (my two teddy bears - Bedtime and Rainbow for those familiar with them - just ended up in a picture frame / candle holder box, and while one pair of sunglasses are in with jewellery, two others are in with scarves and accessories!)

Anyone who knows me will know my pain over this.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The end...

Tomorrow is my last day at Hotwire. Its finally arrived and everyone keeps asking me how I feel.

I have really mixed feelings about it actually. Choosing to join Hotwire was the best decision I could have made (and the fact that I chose it because there was a hot man when I interviewed is irrelevant!)

I have had the best 4.5 years there, learnt so much, met amazing people and ultimately it has also given me my latest opportunity - going to Australia. I will be incredibly sad to say goodbye to everyone and am actually struggling to understand that I will never rock up at work there again (never say never...)

My feelings are very like those when you leave school at the end of the sixth form. You are leaving a safe place. One where you have lived, loved, learnt and grown. You are leaving friends...

... but at the same time you cannot hide just how excited and eager you are to start the next stage in your life. At the end of the sixth form that next stage is a a big scary move to a strange city, new people and university. Now its a big scary move to a strange country, new people and a new job.

I was fine last time, I am sure I will be fine again... its all the path of life after all. And Hotwire will always be in my past, and I am proud of that.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Inspector gadget

Last week I failed my Landlords Electric Safety Certificate. The precise quote was "your electrics are not, and never have been, compliant". Seems a hobbiest wired my house.

So, learning from the £400 quote for work that the kind man drew up I insisted my estate agent call the gas man and get the wheels in motion on the Landlords Gas Safety Certificate.

The nice gentleman turned up this morning. After passing my hob with flying colours (well it hardly needed to revise for this test, it only needed to turn on, and having turned on, only turn off when you ask it to), he moved on to my boiler.

He unscrewed something and I left him to it. About 2 minutes ago I heard him call "have you had trouble with the boiler, does it work?" Yes, I assured him, I have hot water this morning which means it was on, doing its thing, just a couple of hours ago. Despite being 19 years old, and often making Sounds Of Great Effort, my boiler is a bit of a trooper.

But sadly not today. Perhaps its just one of those examinees that gets the collywobbles when being watched too closely, but afforementioned gas man is running up and down my stairs, between the boiler and the water tank in an attempt to resuscitate the system. I think the frenzied speed of his work may have something to do with the fact the only thing that happened between the boiler working and the boiler not working was him unscrewing something...

[UPDATE - "thank god for that" he cries. It is working again. But he adds "start saving, this little boy is going to die any day". There goes another £2k.]

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Meme: Things Emily likes to do

Reading Little Red Boat this lunchtime, Anna has a meme which looked rather fun. Basically you have to google "your name likes to" and see what you get. I did this and the second result was really rather offensive so, with edits, here is my list! (Sorry Anna for this blatant post idea theft. My brain is full of Australia and my beloved readership is beginning to complain that I am gloating too much!)

Emily likes to wander the streets without much planning - I like this one. And I like that its the first result. I would like to think this is like me but can only think of one incident where I have done this and I was slightly wound up that I didn't find enough of the little gems that other people always say they find when they wander aimlessly. I am more of a map and a brisk pace kind of a girl.

Emily likes to Move it, Move it - I do! Its true! Nothing better than a good bop

Emily likes to play dolls and also likes to dance when the music is on. Emily likes to go to the park because she enjoys going down the slide - Hmmm I don't have dolls anymore, but I like to play with my nieces and they are just like dolls for grown ups I guess. I covered the dancing already (obviously something I share with more than one namesake!) and I did enjoy my trip down the slide at Thurleigh with Lucy a couple of weeks ago. All in all this is a good match.

Emily likes to win! - hit the nail on the head... actually, is that site about me?...

Emily likes to study, debate, sing, and speed talk. In fact, she has met the world's record for speed talking. She also likes to compete in beauty pageants. ... - Ok, the beauty pageant thing is about as far from this Emily as you can get, and I would also like to suggest that the world's record for speed talking is firmly held by my sister. I put up a good fight though!

Emily likes to dress up as a fairy - Isn't it incredible how much we can be influenced by a sentence like this. My thought process on reading it... Oh I haven't done that for years (as you would expect)... well why don't I do this anymore? Can 26 year olds not dress as a fairy? I should dress like a fairy more. So I think although it wasn't true when I read it, it is now true.

Emily likes to wallow - Probably not the most glamourous or appealing fact about me, but because I think we are being quite honest today dear reader, I will confess that this is probably true

Emily likes to pretend she's a princess and talk to herself - The second part is spot on. Princess? Not liberated enough... many other things though :-)

Emily likes to eat pizza - possibly couldn't be more true.

Emily likes to pay continuous homage to music lovers everywhere for having such eclectic and interesting tastes - Er, what?

Emily likes to attend church - Apologies to God and everything, but this one isn't true... I am easily distracted and can't sing

Emily likes to read funny and scary books - Funny AND scary? As in both in one book? Not sure thats possible and surely if it were, it would ruin a perfectly good funny book. Never touch the scary stuff ... I live alone in a creaky house!

Emily likes to sing too - as mentioned above, I CAN'T but it doesn't stop me in the car :-)

Emily likes to read voraciously, write about herself in the third person, and look for esoteric meaning in 80's sitcoms - the reason I like this one is that I don't understand most of it. I agree with the first, am saying "I" so can't agree with the second and got lost on the third. All of which makes me want to add my own "Emily likes" to the Google libraries...

Emily likes words she doesn't understand

So now I have to tag people who have to carry on the meme. Off you go Elle, Dom and Jim!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The goodbyes continue

Following on from last Saturday's family leaving do and as a precursor to this Saturday's friends leaving do (and tomorrow's work leaving do) yesterday and today I was in Windsor for the a global marketing summit... a chance to say goodbye to my favourite client.

I managed to skive the first days meetings and rock up in time for drinks on the terrace of a beautiful hotel on the banks of the Thames (timing I perfected last year in Dublin and a habit I must make a mental note to keep!)

After a great dinner we proceeded to drink, laugh, make fun of each other in ever dwindling numbers until about 2.30am. On just 4.5 hours sleep we then started day two with a surprisingly successful brainstorm (considering!), and then headed out on the Thames in a boat.

The sun was out and the views were excellent. Here are some shots from the day (Windsor Castle and the rose made out of the tissue box being my favs!)

On docking the boat we all started to head our separate ways (2 hours drive back into Hertfordshire for me) and hugs and goodbyes abounded.

I have to confess to being rather tearful (I have to confess because I was spotted by Tom and Steven so there is no point denying it!). I have worked so closely with these guys for the last two years - coming off all my other clients for them for 5 months over the summer - and its a real end of era to be leaving them. Is it wrong that the only tears I have shed so far about going away have been for a client??

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

I am not from Hitchin...

.... I am from Letchworth Garden City. But if I was from Hitchin I would buy this t-shirt

Sunday, May 11, 2008


This neighbour of mine caused much mirth this afternoon. After taking up residence on my fence he proceeded to spend the afternoon telling the local residents to F*** Off in a loud shrill voice (well, he is a parrot afterall!)

His owners didn't bat an eyelid and I know who is to blame for the language... she has a thick Scottish accent, but he (her bloke) and the parrot are both rather London. No getting out of that one then!

Friday, May 09, 2008


As my flowers have started to open this year I have realised that I have a lot of purple things in my garden. Unintentional, but it seems I like purple flowers and so buy the plants!

I wanted to share this picture I just took because I don't remember planting this aquilegia, or indeed having any dark purple ones at all, but I think it makes the border look fabulous. I will try to take another in full sunshine and replace this shot if I remember.

is this clearer?

They are in their socks, see? With their skin tight jeans, overly long hair, plimsols (empty of foot) and concave stomachs...

Emo types

Just how uncomfortable can plimsols be??

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Pretty shoes

I was wearing my zebra shoes today. I love them so much. They are definitely deserving of their place on the "take to oz" shelves.

Brains wanted

Not sure if I mentioned but a couple of months ago First Capital Connect installed ticket barriers at kings cross and Letchworth. Ignoring for today the fact that they don't take oyster cards on my line so you have to feed in your mangled card ticket every day, these machines are a nightmare.

At Letchworth there are just three barriers, through which I estimate 200 people squeeze, one at a time, from every peak train. The station is 100 years old and just doesn't have anywhere to put more than 3.

Over the weeks they have tried lots of combinations on the gates. Two exits and one entry in the morning, one exit and two entries.... Nothing stops the vast queue.

Today however they finally lost the plot. Today I bought my ticket and made my way to the barriers to be confronted with the usual 200 kids pouring through en route to school. But today they were using ALL THREE gates as exits.

The train before mine (the stopper) was already on the platform and the man next to me very obviously wanted to be on it. I stood there, a little too flummoxed at such an early hour to work out what to do. Blokey asks... Where do we go? "wait there and we will let you in when they are through" we are told as he points at 200 people queuing to use three gates.

Needless to say he missed his train.


Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Equal pay?

Regular readers to TOE will know that I am not your average bra-burning feminist. Often feminist tyrades annoy me rather than draw my support because I dislike positive discrimination and don't see that "women" as a collective should particularly get more help to achieve something than a man. I hold that opinion because I was raised in a household where the fact that I am female was entirely irrelevant - I could still help my dad lay a patio, work in technology... and wear beautiful shoes. Essentially the parentals equipped me to make the most of life and aim to achieve to the best of my personal ability.

However, just occasionally I realise that I have been relatively lucky never having encountered sexism. Although I do occasionally walk into a client meeting aware that I need to lay the (aging, male) CEO out with my deep industry knowledge I tend to believe its my age more than my sex that makes him pre-conceive me in this way. And I do lay him out, and we are all happy.

In my company the very idea that men might be paid more than women for the same role is downright bizarre, however that's exactly the hot water that the FT has found itself in today. An 11% pay difference is reported, to which the managing editor has said "Pay within the editorial department is negotiated on an individual basis, usually with me, and I reject the implication that I am systematically or deliberately paying women less than men."

But I can't help wondering...

Women's career breaks are blamed, and as the Media Guardian points out in its article, the news team is overwhelmingly male dominated. So perhaps the pay gap is not the issue, and we should be asking instead why the FT is not an appealing workplace for experienced female journalists. They exist in their droves, and (career break or not) many certainly should command the same salary as the top dogs over at the FT.

I am quite confident that the individual women concerned are capable of looking after themselves. But the FT? It should probably work on making the paper appeal to the female employee if it is to continue to lead the industry on its reporting... reporting about a business world in which (thankfully) women have an enormous stake and impact.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Perfect day

I had the nicest day today in the sunshine.

It included
- a picnic
- sunshine
- feeding lambs
- riding in a fire engine (and squirting the hose!)
- spending time with two of my nieces
- chocolate caramel shortbread
- trampolines
- an elephant tattoo
- ice cream
- "driving" a pretend train and an old static tractor

Here are just a couple of pictures from my day.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Define "disused"

I got an envelope through the post this morning, which contained a letter from a land surveyor. The letter politely explains that the Howard Cottage Housing Association (a Letchworth thing) would like to build four modest old-people bungalows on disused land and are sending plans before filing the planning application, because the are lovely like that.

Oh, I think, I wonder what disused land they mean? I can't picture any near where they are describing (although there are plenty of brown field sites scattered around the town, some near me). So I open the A3 diagram.

Setting aside my mild offence at the fact they seem to have depicted mine and my neighbours house as one, and added a random boundary line about 2 feet from my back door (thus creating an island of my garden, attached to no house), I was distressed to see that the land they regard as "disused" is actually the lovely wildlife/forested corner behind my house. The one with the ginormous trees which provide a beautiful backdrop to my little garden. The one which forms a buffer between the 20 or so houses around me that all back onto this point.

Now I am not heartless. I like the idea of four old people getting lovely new homes without stairs (although I question their policy of making them available to the over 55s, and think my parents would take offence at the low age bracket too!). I didn't even feel the need to dispute their assertion that these over 55 year olds will create minimal traffic. However I shall absolutely be writing to object to this.

Why? Because that land is not disused, and that seems to have been the fundamental fact driving the choice of location. It is used by children and dog walkers, squirrels and foxes, plus its role as a buffer for noise and sight is important.

For a garden city, priding itself on our little patches of green throughout the town, calling this one disused seems incongruous.

(the copse, beyond the light fence. And yes, my neighbours do all have messy gardens and out-buildings with no planning approval!)

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