What the….

I think that Steve and I are fairly positive people. We often try to see the positive side of things and compliment each others moods quite well so when one is down the other is up and can raise the others spirit. Today however this is proving to be hard. Sometimes this country just really does your head in!

Today I worked from home. Thankfully the technology we have available and the type of work I do makes this possible. Personally I prefer going into work but when the need arises it is always fab to have the option to work from home. The reason I stayed home was to wait for a delivery.

We paid a premium price last Friday for a quick delivery. Being reasonable people we figured we would let it slide for Saturday but should expect it Monday. No, they advised it would be Tuesday. No worries. I call Tuesday to make sure it is on the truck for today. Yes it is and will be there before 5pm. 5pm comes and goes. I call again. Oh, no it was dispatched from our warehouse to the courier company, it will be there Wednesday. Well I won’t be here Wednesday which is why I got Tuesday as a work from home day (can you visualise my pulsing neck muscles about this time – not helped by the copious amounts of caffeine I have consumed today – another reason not to work from home).

So it will be here Thursday, apparently, which means Steve can take the day off to wait for it. Oops, no, he’s not off on that day either. Bugger. Believe me this is not a one off occurrence. I have heard many stories similar to this. There is no point complaining as they have your money, you want the goods and you are held to ransom in the meantime. You vow to never use them again, which you stick to, but it is rare to find a company that does provide a good service.

Don’t get me going about trying to get a doctors appointment! Next to impossible so don’t get sick!

In short, so this doesn’t come off as a whinge, there are many things and wonderful people that we do really enjoy over here however it is always interesting to reflect on what we did have back home and believe me in many ways we do have it incredibly sweet in Oz and NZ. I always thought that population density was a big disadvantage in NZ. Now I realise that because we have such a relatively small pool of clients in Oz and NZ you need to set yourself apart from the competition or sales walk. This results in a far better level of customer service. Bring back old fashioned, decent customer service I say.

By the way…

Day light savings has started so we are now currently 12 hours behind NZ and 10 hours behind Oz. It is currently 7pm at night at the moment and the sun is still bright, warm and shining. I had a wee nana nap this afternoon as it was so warm that it sent me straight to sleep. Bliss.

I’m knacked

This week has been a full on one. Tuesday afternoon I made my way via train to Bolton (near Manchester) for work. I spent two nights up there as I was conducting six training sessions over these days.

The first night in the hotel I was rudely awoken by an evacuation alarm at 2am! For the number of times I have stayed in hotels I am usually quite diligent about the following things 1) always take something decent to sleep in, 2) know your fire exits from your floor, 3) have your phone, torch and room key next to you for quick access. I have been very complacent it would seem, at least on point number 2. Also I did spend a precious 2 minutes trying to figure out what alarm I had set off (in my 2am groggy state of mind) before realising it was the fire alarm! The hotel guests then spent the next 30 minutes or so outside in the rain and gusting winds while the fire engines arrived. It turned out to be something burning in the kitchen – smelt like toast! The highlight of the night (of course be that it wasn’t a severe emergency and we were all safe) was the attire that people wore outside. One lady had obviously grabbed the nearest shoes and ended up with one Ugg boot and a sneaker.

The two days of training was full on with very little time between sessions. By the time Thursday afternoon came I was rearing to go home. I believe the sessions went very well, even the session with key managers that I had been forewarned about. They definitely tried to unnerve me and display their displeasure at “yet another system” but I believe I managed to successfully hold my own ground and more importantly had some positive grumblings about the benefits of the tool by the end.

This weekend Steve had to work and I was helping a friend move into her new place in Wales. It was a big day but I have been quite surprised that my muscles aren’t hurting as much as I thought they would today. We have spectacular weather here in Bristol today although there is still a chilly wind blowing. With that, I am off to enjoy it.

Coastal Trail Series – Pembrokeshire

The forecast for this weekend in Wales was not just rain but HEAVY rain. Friday was yet another annual leave day so we could so some recon on the area and the weather was starting out as a bit miserable.

Finding accommodation in rural Wales is a bit of a chore so I would recommend being a little bit more organised with this when staying in the area. We have been relying on the IPhone with 3G internet connection but this can be slow and obviously non-existent in the rural areas.

There is an abundance of B&B’s in rural Wales but for the most part they are rooms in people’s homes that have been opened up for a bit of extra income so the level of expertise in regards to cleanliness and food hygiene can be a bit of an issue. Thankfully we managed to find a lovely farm house B&B out in the middle of nowhere. We were a bit concerned that we would never be heard from again but this thinking obviously proved to be unfounded.

The farm was a working one with dry stock and some pigs with the listed stone house as the main accommodation. We were the only guests that weekend except for the owners grandchildren that turned up for the weekend which we never saw anyway. The view from our room was lovely, straight across the fields to the ocean. I could even see the lighthouse blinking at night far off in the distance. The living room had a lovely crackling fire, wooden beamed ceiling and proved to be the perfect location for reading the next book on my list, Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen.

We went for dinner at Little Haven and early registration on the Friday night. Night time driving through all the back roads of Wales with no street lighting – interesting! Being confident with reversing is essential in this country on back lanes with farm equipment taking up the whole lane.

The next morning we were incredibly surprised to see that we had yet another spectacular day. At some point on these runs we are sure to get a miserable day but so far we have been incredibly blessed. Two runs to go, let’s see how we go.

As we were staying near to race base we got another sleep in (far better than leaving from Bristol at 6am to arrive in time for the race). We had to park in Broad Haven then catch the shuttle base to race base as Little Haven is quite tiny and couldn’t accommodate the number of cars for all the runners. At 10.30 the half marathoners were off. I trailed them by walking the 10km section meeting back up with the half and full marathoners at the final section of the race. The coastal path truly does follow the cliff edge and there was a number of times that I was thankful that the gusting winds were blowing on shore and not off. If you fell over the edge here they wouldn’t find your body for a while I would imagine.

Steve ran this time with a smaller pack to lighten the load on a knee injury he has but still it is slowing him down so he will have to get it seen to before the next race in Cornwall. Apparently the next one is brutal but the Exmoor one is the hardest. I never know who to listen to though as to me they all look incredibly challenging.

So in three weeks time it is Cornwall! I am looking forward to that one as we haven’t visited this area as yet.

And they are off...
Can you spot Steve?
Beware - cliff edge
Muddy mess
Looking back to Little Haven and Broad Haven
Yet another spectacular view
Very gusty here!
Homeward stretch
About another mile to go
Here he comes
Dibbing in for his finish time
Now another 1 mile walk back to the car
Fancy some surfing?

Book review: A Thousand Splendid Suns

A disturbing yet incredibly compelling read, A Thousand Splendid Suns follows the life of two women living in Afghanistan during the changing landscape and atrocities of war. We first met Mariam who is an illegitimate child living on the outskirts of Herat where her father comes to visit weekly. Never allowed to interact with his real family we see a young girl idolising her father while her mother tries to instill in Mariam that she will never be welcomed as a legitimate daughter. The realisation eventually comes when Mariam is sent away by her father and married off to a much older man, Rasheed, living in Kabul. When she fails to provide him with a son he takes a younger wife, Laila. The book follows the lives of Mariam and Laila as their friendship forms and strengthens as they do the best they can trying to survive a country at war and a brutal life at home.

The story of these women are so far outside the realm of my reality or the comprehension of their lifestyle yet it is so well written that they become familiar to you.

What amazed me about the characters is the incredible endurance through all the situations thrown at them. I still haven’t finished mulling over this book as yet and figuring out what I have taken away from it.

Another trip to Newport

Saturday was another day spent in Newport helping a friend look at some rental properties. As she has already booked a moving company at the end of March is was getting fairly urgent that a decision was made. I am glad to say she has finally picked one.

The first place we went to clearly had damp coming through the walls. The house had been freshly painted and the real estate agent even had the audacity to say it was going to be re-painted. Like that was going to help?
The second place had huge living room windows that looked out across farmland but the kitchen was incredibly bad.
The third one was the winner. As soon as you walked in it felt warm and homely. It really helped to have a lot of furniture already in there which went with the period style of the house. Lots of warm, dark honey coloured woods and soft, blue walls. It has a fabulous, tiled kitchen with a huge cooker, built in fridge and freezer, conservatory room with washer and dryer, one bedroom downstairs, three bedrooms and bathroom upstairs, under house storage, garden shed and a backyard. The bedroom downstairs will be changed back to a dining. Two bedrooms upstairs each have fireplaces and the living room and front room also have fire places. The front room (currently a bedroom) has a fabulously decorated fireplace with the most luscious coloured blue tiling. As soon as my mate saw it she couldn’t sign on the dotted line quick enough. Job well done.

Front of the house
Parquet floor boards at the entrance
Fab fire place
Fireplace in the lounge
Great cooker
Backyard and garden shed