30th January

Breakfast redeemed the hotel! So second day on site for Coca Cola and today is the conference day. I’m going round filming the activities that the delegates are taking part in to edit, together with interviews shot at lunchtime, into a video to show at the end of the conference. The activities are loosely based on each brand’s identity…

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Although at the end of the event no one actually watches the video except for me and some of the management who are almost trampled underfoot as 1200 sales people made a dash for the exit! I actually only stayed to watch the video and could have gone an hour earlier and ironically I then get stuck for almost another hour in the car park as everyone tried to get out onto the road which ran right round the stadium to the exit.

Eventually I get out onto the road and breathe a sigh of relief but it is short lived as at the next roundabout I can see that the traffic on the M6 southbound is absolutely solid. I head up the slip road anyway, which is being controlled by traffic lights as it joins the motorway to try and ease the congestion. When I eventually get onto the main motorway I discover that the reason the traffic is so slow is that the M1 ahead is closed. So I put my satnav on and it recommends coming off at the next exit and doubling back to go down the M40 instead, conservatively estimating that it will take almost twice as long to stay on the current route. So that’s what I do and the journey home isn’t too bad. (I did discover that the point where the M40 joins the M25 is the same distance from my house whether I go north round the M25 and over the bridge or south – 76 miles each way!

29th January

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On site in Coventry for a Coca Cola sales conference – filming and editing.

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Stayed in the hotel attached to the venue, possibly one of the worst designed hotel rooms I’ve ever stayed in! It sounded good when I checked in and was told I was in an executive room but if that was an executive room I’d hate to have seen a standard one!

I go to plug in my mobile phone and laptop but discover that the sockets by the bed are 5 amp roundpin which we used to have in our house before we got it rewired in 1975. The only 13 amp sockets are above the desk which means I have to leave my mobile on charge there over night and of course there’s no clock in the room. It also means if I want to use my laptop I have to sit at the desk…….but I can’t as there’s no chair. Eventually I end up lying on the bed watching a movie* on my laptop which is on the coffee table with the power lead stretched across the room!

* I forgot to mention the only TV channels are a couple of sports channels and Sky news!

In addition the smoke detector has a plastic bag over it and the shower either comes out of a shower head situated outside the bath with a hose that barely reaches the tub or a slot at waist height both of which flood the floor and soak the towels!

And the room is cold and when I turn up the heating the aircon unit blasts the room so loud it drowns out the laptop!

28th January

Got the hump with someone at work today! The job I’m on tomorrow up in Coventry was originally be there for lunchtime, then a few days ago that changed to eleven which I wasn’t happy about. Then today it suddenly became ten – I just said no! It’s always the ones without kids who assume everyone can just change everything to suit their whim. I know that if I got there at ten I’d simply sit around for two hours and besides it is a long day with the drive up from Kent – if they wanted me there that early I could have gone up tonight and stayed over.

Torrential rain this afternoon which made my journey home a nightmare – took nearly two and a half hours! I also had to stop at Tesco to get petrol for the journey tomorrow. I’d checked my balance and knew I had £59 in my account so I was keeping my eye on the dial but it actually stopped at £57 so that means I will finish the month, a long month as it’s been 6 weeks since we last get paid, with £2 in my account. The other account has got a fiver left in it and after I’d returned a picture frame to Tesco I had £4.59 in my pocket – enough to pay the tolls on the Dartford bridge. As ever my company owes me £200.

26th January

Got up early-ish! The reason was to do the breakfast for the students but in the end they didn’t come down until 10:30! So it was a quiet sort of morning. The main thing we had to do today was to take the students and show them how to get to their placements but it was taking them so long to get ready – we could hear hairdryers going – that we decided to go to Aldi instead. When we got back we had lunch and then drove the students around to show them where they had to go. Afterwards they’d said they wanted to go to Chatham to meet up with some friends in the Pentagon Centre so we dropped them there.

I’d wanted to go to Chatham too so we parked up and I went into Primark to buy a new pair of trousers for work. I didn’t realise how complicated this was going to be. I picked up a pair of the size that I bought last time which was a size below what I’d been wearing when I started my fasting. However I thought that they were feeling baggy so just out of interest I took a pair of the size below to try on as well. To my surprise I did actually get into them and although they did feel a little tight it wasn’t so tight as to make me think “no they’re too small” – I thought once they’d been washed they’d probably slacken off a bit but I wasn’t sure so I phone Sarah to come and see, It wasn’t helped by the fact that the other pair looked really baggy on me.

Sarah thought they looked a bit tight but handed me another pair of trousers in a sort of purpley/lilacy colour which had been reduced to £5 in the sale. So I tried them on while she went to look for the larger size in a slim fitting. I was in and out of the changing room trying different sizes and variations on for about the next half hour! Eventually just when I’d given up I managed to find another display that had black trousers on, similar to the reduced pair that Sarah had given me so I went back to the changing rooms for the fourth time. This time I’d taken the smaller size in regular and the larger size in slim fitting. I tried them both on and they both fitted about the same but the smaller size regular looked better so I bought them. So that’s two sizes smaller than what I was wearing 15 months ago – result!!

So I bought the black trousers plus the ones that Sarah had found and a grey waistcoat that I’ve been wanting since before Christmas. I then dashed down to Debenhams as I had been given a gift card by Sarah’s brother at Christmas and I had seen a hat (well two hats) last week when I didn’t have it with me. Luckily for me this shop shuts half an hour later so I dashed in to find them. I then stood there for about 10 minutes trying both hats on and trying to decide. I’d planned to buy the grey one because I already had a black hat but standing in the shop I preferred the black one. So back and forth I went black, grey, black, grey, black, grey…….black definitely the black one! I took it to the counter before I changed my mind again. It had been £28 but was reduced to £11.20 so I only had to pay £1.20!

I made what we call Shepherd’s Pie for dinner – it’s probably more accurately Cottage pie as we make it using beef rather than lamb – I only mention this because it came up on Coronation Street this week!! We had that followed by the Mississippi Mud Pie that Lissi had made as a birthday cake for Sarah. She wanted it with custard on but I thought that was just wrong so I had mine warmed slightly in the microwave and covered in squirty cream – very nice.

Can’t belive where the weekend went – but I say that every week!

25th January

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Sarah’s 40th Birthday

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In the evening we had some students arriving who are staying for 2 weeks while on a work placement locally. We had to go and pick them up from Rochester but just as we were about to leave there was a really freaky weather incident. Just for ten minutes or so the wind got up and we were pelted with hailstones. It turned out that we’d missed the worst of it with a mini tornado hitting parts of the south east. We decided to stay put until it stopped. When we did get going we were part of the way there when I noticed that my wing mirror had been knocked and I wound down the window to reposition it – forgetting that it was held on with pvc tape. As soon as I started to move it it fell off and I had to hold it, connected only by the wires that control the motor and the heating element, while I drove through the tunnel and found somewhere to stop. My hand was absolutely freezing by the time we’d pulled up by McDonalds which made it even harder to fix. Needless to say we were very late by the time we got to the pick up point!!

24th January

Curiously today is the only day this week that hasn’t felt like it’s Friday!

And I’m wearing a tie for the fourth time this week! This is because I’ve got a meeting up in town. First thing I notice is the huge rise in the train fare – up from £8.10 when I went to the Radio 3 thing before Christmas to £8.80 now – a well above inflation increase pushing 10%.

We got there early so we decided to get a coffee. The woman next to me in Cafe Nero talked incessantly about Bruce Springsteen – so much so I almost told her my “I’ve touched Springsteen’s bottom” story just to shut her up!

Sarah’s birthday tomorrow so we went out for a meal in the evening. We went to a Harvester but had to wait for a table. It was quite crowded but some people are so rude! One group of four virtually surrounded us and then deciding they wanted to go to the bar advanced towards us and just stared at us till we got out of their way!

We eventually got to sit down and had a nice meal although I did have to finish Sarah’s pudding for her. Felt guilty using the 20% discount voucher for her birthday meal but times is hard you know (had to borrow the money out of my birthday money as it was due to the amount of money I’ve had to pull out for expenses this week anyway! )

The condom machine in the toilets made me chuckle:

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I’m guessing the middle one is in case she says she’s got a headache after you’ve bought the condoms or the manhancer!

23rd January

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Spent the day creating PowerPoint slides at Coca Cola’s offices in, of all places, Uxbridge which is a fair trek from my house!

It was bad enough that I was supposed to finish at 4 pm but ended up working till 6. Then on the way home I got off the tube at Green Park and went all the way to the Victoria line platform entrance only to find the line was closed and I had to go back to the Jubilee line and go to Victoria via Westminster. I was a bit suspicious when I saw the sign at Green Park said due to flooding but the sign at Victoria said due to signal failure and there were lots of Police about several of them armed – I thought hello what’s going on…..

I then tried to send a text to Sarah

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But just as I was typing that last line I spotted that my battery level had dropped to 1% and sure enough as soon as I pressed send the phone died!

So I called her on my work phone and she said she’d heard that the reason the tube was suspended was due to concrete on the line. I was starting to get really suspicious now but as it turned out all three stories were true. Fast setting concrete had flooded into the control room at Victoria causing the signals to fail and that’s why the line wasn’t running.

I got home just before 9 and put my phone on charge while we nipped to Tesco as Sarah needed to buy cakes for her colleagues at school as it’s her birthday on Saturday. She got my text while we were shopping!!!!

22nd January

Well that’s a turn up for the books! Sunderland beat Manchester United in the semi final of the Capitol One Cup. They’d been 2-1 up after the first leg at the Stadium of Light and during the second leg only conceded one goal during the 90 minutes leaving it 2-2 and forcing extra time.

With one minute to go and penalties looking likely Sunderland scored to put them in what looked like a winning position but it was short lived as Man U equalised two minutes later in injury time. Sunderland eventually came out on top after a woeful penalty shoot out where only three of the ten penalties went in.

We face Manchester City in the final……….

21st January

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Another day at Westminster Central Hall only a little less eventful and exciting than yesterday! Didn’t get home till gone nine in the evening but after doing the dishwasher, putting out the rubbish and cleaning up cat poo I did get sat down in time to watch a programme about Stephen Gough – The Naked Rambler!