Saturday, 16 February 2013

Another week another road trip

Another week away in diary form. I'm slowly getting used to being away from my family for 4 days each week and just about getting into a routine.
 
Monday
I travelled up to Malvern on Sunday this week. The plan had been to go to Wales to see Mum now that she is home after her operation and then drop the family off at my sister-in-law's but Rhys had picked up an infection and on past experience we would have ended up in hospital. Having booked at hotel and cancelled my hire car I had no choice but to head to Malvern on my own.
The trip up was ok, it rained all the way but I did try a new router from the motorway to the hotel.
My room is on the ground floor so no hauling the case up one or two flights of stairs this time which I'd good.
The last time I had a rather large case. When I was checking out a nice gentleman offered to take carry my case for me. I declined the offer, I suppose that there's still an independent streak in me, one of these days though I won't be able to carry a heavy case like that up and down flights of stairs.
I managed to get some burlesque practice in Sundays evening and will be able to do lots more of that I hope. My routine needs some pizzazz.
Overnight it seems snowed, not too much but hopefully not a foretaste of things to come as it have to drive to Mum's on Thursday evening and Mere for a hair appointment on Friday morning. 

View from the restaurant breakfast time
 
The Abbey

The car park with Malvern Theatres in background
 

Tuesday
First day here went well. The task I have to do at the moment ground to a halt and I had to contact some suppliers, all I can do until I hear from them is write up my report and then see if there is anything else for me to do.
Employment regulations raised their head with regards to my last project so I'm now waiting to see if they do and whether I need to consider possibly moving get to Hampshire to work, not something I want to do and not something at the moment I need to do.
I had a nice meal in the restaurant yesterday and sat and watched Doctor Who on iPlayer in the bar area. A shower and quick run through my burlesque routine but no run. I did think about it and got part changed but when I looked in the mirror decided I didn't look good enough to walk through the bar area in order to get out the hotel in order to go for a 6 miles run. Yes, I discovered that it is about 6 miles if I run to work along the route I take in the morning and then come back the route I take the evening.
I might go Wednesday as tonight I'm in Bristol for burlesque class. I might not get out for a run on Wednesday though as one of my colleagues from Yeovil is up and we have talked about meeting up for a meal when she and I are in Malvern together, if we do I'm going to wear the dress I brought and not go with the jeans or trousers I've been wearing at work while the guys get used to my presence.

Wednesday
I had some great news yesterday. My first appointment at the Nuffield in Exeter came through. Unfortunately it was for a Wednesday so I rang to change it only for the secretary to say that she had been about to contact me because she wanted to rearrange it anyway. So I now have my next laser hair removal appointment, my first through the Laurels, on the first March.

The trip to Bristol went smoothly and I was there with enough time to grab a bite to eat. Sadly being away means that I missed out on pancakes, even more sadly I missed out on pancakes made by my partner, the first time she's ever made them since we met nearly 19 years ago. I've asked her to make some Friday when I get back home.

Burlesque practice went well and I'm now doing two routines in the show, my solo, and the troupe routine, known which I get to be a bee. I've arranged a one-to-one with M for next Thursday to go over my routine and also another idea I've had.

Thursday
Yesterday was another reasonably good day.
I made some progress in work and know where we are with a few things.
I was chatting with one of the other women about my burlesque classes and the upcoming show, she wants to know the details as she might come to it. Eek! If she does it will be the first person from my work life who will have.
I'm pretty confident of my routine now, just need to make it performance ready.
I'm going to Wales today to see Mum and Dad. Should be interesting.

Friday
Yesterday was a good day. I found out the result of the exam I took 2 weeks ago, made some progress with the work I'm doing, discovered that there is some work I can do from the Yeovil office, arranged to have a room on the ground floor at the hotel where I won't have to walk through the bar in running gear and saw my parents.
Mum looks well considering she had fairly serious surgery two weeks ago. At some point I'm sure that her breast cancer will hit me emotionally but with Dad having had cancer when I was younger, my son having had Leukaemia from when he was 3 until 2008 and my father-in-law's having cancer then it seems that I've emotionally shutdown at the moment when it comes to this illness.


I can do testing me!

To paraphrase one of my favourite phrases from Brainiac: Science Abuse, I can do testing me.
At the beginning of December I attended a training course in Southampton for the ISTQB Advanced Test Analyst qualification. Two weeks ago I went to London and sat the exam for it.
Yesterday I received an email informing that my test results were ready to be sent out. I just needed to send some evidence to show that I'd met one of the pre-requisites for the course.
Frantically sorting out getting scanned copies of the required documents, which naturally were at home while I was over a 100 miles away, and scanning a copy of my Deed Poll I sent the evidence off and received an email with a link to my results online.

I'm happy to say that, despite feeling a bit unprepared when I sat the exam due to a lack of revision, that I passed with 79 marks out of 100 (65 being the pass mark).

Colour me chuffed to bits!

Friday, 8 February 2013

Second week away

Tuesday

Its 4:49am as I type this and once again I can't really sleep because of the strange bed. Its been a rough night of tossing and turning since about 12:30 when I was woken by people leaving the bar that is part of the hotel.
I'm staying at a hotel owned by the Wetherspoons chain because the Abbey was full this week.
The hotel receptionist was really pleasant when I checked in so is a credit to the place. The hotel is nice, d├ęcor is good for an old coaching in. Early this evening I chatted via video chat with my family in Yeovil, sadly I wont be doing that again this week as forgot to bring my Blackberry charger, in fact I forgot to bring my phone charger as well, thankfully I have a spare phone so I can still talk to them. I do have my laptop so if I can access the Wifi on Wednesday evening then I can chat to them via Skype.
Tonight I'm going to be at Pink Kitten in Bristol again so I'll only have the chance to ring them anyway.
The journey up was another long one. I set of at half past 6 and arrived at the office just after 9:15. Almost 3 hours due to slow traffic in a number of places.
I've not brought my running gear with me this week as I wasn't sure where the hotel was going to be and how easy it would be to get out running. I do plan on bring running gear next week though as I'll be back at the Abbey and feel confident that I'll be able to find some run routes in the evenings.

As the hotel is part of the Wetherspoons chain its got a bar and restaurant. I decided that I'd try it out since I know that the food is reasonably priced as are the drinks. Well the drinks certainly were as I got a large white wine for the same price as I would have gotten a single glass in London last week. I decided to have gammon steak for my meal and discovered that came with a free drink.
It was crowded in the restaurant and even though I found a table out of the way and faced away from people I still felt uncomfortable. The gammon was OK but I ended up leaving some of the rest of the meal. Thursday evening it looks like I'll be eating somewhere else rather than the hotel. In fact I doubt that I'll be eating at the hotel as although they do breakfasts I've not got those booked. I was planning on having breakfast but I don't think I'll bother. Instead I'll manage on breakfast biscuits instead and grab a sandwich at lunchtime. I'm not doing any real exercise this week so cutting down on how much I eat will help me to lose a few pounds, which is something that I seriously want to do.

Wednesday

I've been up about an hour surfing the net, catching up with emails and generally lying in bed (its 6am right now). I managed to get a bit more sleep last night, went to bed about 11 and woke up properly just before 5. I don't really sleep lots as it is, being in a strange bed certainly doesn't help.
Yesterday started off being interesting, if not slightly worrying. As I headed out of the hotel to the car I noticed that there was a dusting of snow on all the cars. By the time I'd reached the hire car it was actually snowing, quite big flakes in fact. Driving to work was an interesting experience as its a while since I've driven while it has been snowing.
Fortunately by the time I got to work it had stopped snowing, within another hour the snow had all melted. A good thing as I had a trip to Bristol planned for the evening in order to go to burlesque class.
Sadly that plan went out of the window as with only one person saying that they would be at the class the advanced lab was cancelled because it wasn't worth running it for so few people.
This left me with a slight problem, what to do during the evening. I'd picked up a couple of DVDs on my way into work so at least I had something to watch. Food would be an issue though as I wasn't sure that I wanted to eat at the hotel again. In the end I decided I'd see what else was in the area but in doing so discovered that the hotel had a much bigger dining area than I'd thought.
I found a table, a bit large for one as it could seat 6, and left my coat to mark the fact that someone was sitting at it. Ordering my food I was served by a nice young woman. The service was good and the food hot and edible. Finishing up I went to the bar and order another drink to take up to my room. While waiting to be served I noticed a couple of young girls glancing at me and whispering to each other, had I been read, possibly but I wasn't worried.
Returning to my room I didn't end up watching a DVD. By the time I managed to get online and chat to my family, check emails and browse a few websites it was 9pm. A quick bath, due to not being able to figure out how the shower worked, a bit of a chat with a couple of people on Facebook and then it was bed.
Tonight its going to be pick up something to eat from Morrisons, chat to the family, practice my burlesque routine and watch a DVD. A nice relaxing evening.

Friday

Well I'm back in Yeovil, its 7:30am and we were due to go to Wales this evening to my parents. Sadly that doesn't look like its going to happen as across from me fast asleep in the chair is my son, who came home last night from a meal out and was cold and shivery. His leg and one foot were aching and when I checked him in bed his pyjamas were soaking. This morning he's still full of a cold but has also found it painful when breathing and also when lying in bed, sitting more upright is easier. Having taken some painkillers he's now sleeping with a blanket pulled over his head to block out the room light. A visit to the doctors is on the cards for later!

The rest of my week in Malvern turned out to be OK. Wednesday evening I ventured out to the Bengal Brasseries opposite the hotel. I'd read some reviews about it and had decided that if I got there early then it wouldn't be busy and I could eat and be away before it did get busy.
Well I was right it wasn't busy, in fact when I arrived just after 6 I was the only one there. By the time I left there was a family of four and a couple eating.
The meal was lovely, the best I'd eaten all week. Poppadoms first with an extra one in addition to the two I'd asked for. A meat stuffed pepper for starter and then a tandoori mixed grill with Bombay Aloo and naan bread. Well I managed to eat all of the meat from the grill, half the aloo and a part of the naan bread before having to admit defeat.
The staff there were really friendly, 3 waiters who dealt with me and asked where I was from so I ended up having a conversation about being from Somerset on business and staying across the road from them. A really pleasant evening and if I end up at the same hotel again then I'll be happily popping in to have something to eat again.
I also discovered a little Thai restaurant around the corner which I might try at some point and while chatting with one of the other women in the office on Thursday morning discovered where there is another nice Thai restaurant which I might venture to at some point in the next couple of weeks.

I managed to run through my burlesque routine a couple of times in my room Wednesday evening, is not a complicated routine, I just need to get used to using the fans.

The week ended quite well as I managed to almost complete the task that I'd been assigned which was to take images of the hard disks on the test rig with the bare bones Windows 7 operating system and then install our software and see if it would run, for the most part it did and I've learned quite a few things about Windows 7, installing drivers and firewalls in the process. Just need to iron out a few issues next week and I'll be able to write up a report on what I've done and found.

Next week I'm back to the hotel I'm going to be using until the end of March. I'll be taking my running gear with me so I can at least get some training in during the week.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Miles to Go

As I look out the window a red double decker London bus pulls away from the bus stop. Then another and another. Yes, I'm in London, capital city of England. It's the fourth city or town I've been in this week, including the one I live in.
Monday saw me leave Yeovil for Malvern where I'll be working for the next few months, well hopefully months and not the 6 years the project manager shouted out while one of the guys was talking about me on the phone.
Tuesday evening saw me drive from Malvern to Bristol and back to go to the Pink Kitten advanced lab where I managed to get some burlesque practice in. Oh and I also addition to agreed to perform a solo routine and be part of the advanced lab troupe performance.
Wednesday saw me return home to Yeovil. It also saw me explain to my son that his Nan, my Mum, was going to be having an operation later in the week as she has been diagnosed with breast cancer. Considering he had leukaemia, two of his grandads, his Nan and one of his great Aunts had all had cancer he took took it well.
Thursday was a train journey to London. I've travelled by train once last year so wasn't worried about that. The bit that had me worried was travelling by Underground, all those people packed in trains. I wasn't going to do it once either. I was going to do it 3 times. Once to get to my hotel and twice to get to and from Camden where I planned to visit Burleska in the Stables Market. The trip was crowded and hot but uneventful. The walk to Burleska was interesting as I've never been to Camden before. I never knew what I'd been missing. It was amazing, especially the Stables. So many stalls and shops. So many smells. I could have wandered for hours. Eventually I found Burleska and had the pleasure of a lovely lady who helped me to find a corset with a matching skirt and a separate skirt that will go with my leather corset when I have it. Now I just need a lacy top to wear under the corset to give a bit of cover in the breast area and I have my costume sorted for the show. Just need to finalize the routine and I'm ready to do my solo.

The week did take its toll though because I found myself packing my case and starting to get ready to go to breakfast at 6am Friday morning. After packing my case I was about to put on my Estrogen gel when I heard someone going into one of the other rooms and locking the door. I thought this was odd at that time of the morning and just before I applied my gel I looked at my watch again.
This time I managed to hold the watch up the right way and saw that it was actually 1am. As Homer would say "Doh!"
Back to bed and not the most restful of nights.
Friday morning eventually arrived properly, exam day, a very wet day for the mile walk to the exam venue.
Friday, the day Mum goes in for her operation.
Friday, the day I get back home to Yeovil with a trip to Petersfield to see my father-in-law facing me on Saturday, unless the weather is too bad to travel.
Well at least Sunday I don't have far to go, a two hour swim at the pool maybe but no driving until Monday and another week in Malvern.