Monthly Archives: October 2013

Holiday preparations

While I have always enjoyed holidays, I haven’t always looked forward to them as much as I perhaps should have.  For some people, the planning, booking, anticipation and preparation are as much part of the holiday as the holiday itself.  I am not one of those people.

For me, the thought of holidays used to feel like a hassle.  An extra complication in my life that I could do without.  The fact that the complication was self-inflected compounded the issue.  The preparation required to be away from the office for a couple of weeks, and the subsequent “catching up” always felt like they added to an already hectic, often stressful situation.

Really not my idea of fun!

At work I often had lengthy periods of extensive travel.  I would spend too much time at airports, on planes or alone, eating Club Sandwiches in hotel rooms.  There were many elements of a holiday trip that were reminiscent of business trips.  Worse, I was likely to be surrounded by holiday-makers and the inefficiencies of Charter flights and Packaged Tour Guides!

I used to deal with the negatives by ignoring the fact that I was going on holiday until the last possible moment.  I would rely on last minute preparations and, in event of emergency, the Credit Card to dig me out of holes.

Really not my idea of fun!

To make things worse, I have never enjoyed packing / unpacking / re-packing – I used to get around this by living out of a suitcase.  On occasion this would last for weeks after I had returned from holiday.  My clothes returned to their proper homes as they are worn, washed and put away (not a quick cycle!).

When I was a kid, I used to hate missing school.  As a result, there was more to being ill than the sickness… I hated it!  I always used to feel like I was missing out on something.  It felt like the day I missed would be the day when some critical, life-changing knowledge would be imparted.  As a result I would be forever at a disadvantage.   I guess it used to feel like missing work had similar implications, on some level I would forever pay for lost opportunities as a result of not showing up.  After all, they do say that 90% of success is showing up!

As I say, I have always enjoyed holidays once they’ve (and we’ve) actually arrived.  In particular, we’ve had some fantastic holidays over the past few years.  We’ve created some really special family memories in some fantastic locations.  They are really restorative to us all individually as well as a family.  I’m relieved to say that I’ve never been quite so stubborn and narrow-minded as to think they weren’t a good thing.

My general feelings about holidays have softened considerably over time.  Nowadays I look forward to getting away.  To switching off and winding down.  I’ve even been known to leave my work phone at home, introducing “emergency contact only”!

Our resort in Rhodes. It looks nice and quiet!

“Why”, I hear you saying, “is he rattling on about holidays?”.  Well, on Friday we’re off to Rhodes (Greece) for a couple of weeks in the sun.  It’s a substitute holiday for the Florida Trip we had to cancel because of my Heart Attack in the summer (the long haul flight, high temperatures, Amusement Parks and lifestyle really weren’t favourable for a new member of the Heart Attack Survivor’s Club!).  We’re all looking forward to some sun, relaxation and healthy living.  The 15 day forecast promises temperatures in the mid-20’s C.

Anyway, as I’m looking forward to the trip, my preparations started today with a trawl of potential reading material on Amazon.  I’m quite excited about my choices – a variety of educational, trivial and thought provoking titles to keep me occupied.

Having got the “long lead” preparations out of the way, I guess I should start thinking about packing.  I do however still have almost a week before we go… so that can wait for another day!

It was twenty years ago today…

Twenty years ago today… I started out on the first steps in professional life.

imagesCA28Y0P1Dressed in my new suit and shiny shoes, I made my way from Clapham to White City on the London Underground. I suspect I may have had some sort of briefcase with me, filled with joining instructions, forms and maps.  I definitely had the wide eyed stare of someone who really had no idea what they were letting themselves in for.

The journey was traumatic.  The timings uncertain.  There was no way I could be late on my first day.  I suspect I was early… very early.  I think I also did the trip the previous day, just to be sure of where I was going.

I was keen, naïve, young, Impressionable and ambitious.  My new life extended in front of me.

movies_michael_jordan_1

Jordan was the king in ’93!

It was a very memorable date for me, and not just because I started proper work:

A new group of graduates started at the company I worked for every couple of weeks.  The initial assignment was 6 weeks training; 3 in London (home for me) and 3 in a training centre just outside Chicago.  It was 6 weeks of burning the candle at both ends, of working hard and playing harder, of adrenalin and caffeine, alcohol and coffee, of team-work and competition.  Exciting times!

Best of all, we got paid for it!!!

For the first few years, we became known by the date of our start group.  We were brothers in arms, linked by the bonds forged over the first few weeks.  People in the group immediately before us or after us might as well have worked for a different company.  I was part of the 4th October 1993 Start Group.

The memories are vivid, but it seems such a long time ago.

Anyone who knows me won’t be surprised to hear that I don’t stay in touch with any of my Start Group colleagues.  The regular get-togethers only lasted a few months for me.  I found new friends, formed new bonds, took on new, bigger challenges.

I’d like to think I’ve recently come to the end of a cycle and started another.  Where will this one lead?

I’d like a “Man Salad”

I’ve found eating out tricky since I’ve been watching what I eat.  I want to eat healthily.  I want to eat a varied diet.  I want to eat well.  However, one of the big challenges is that despite this, I still have a man’s appetite.

Deep Fried Cheese & Chips. Tasty, but not the healthiest option!

My menu options are extremely limited in many of the places we go out to eat.  I guess people offer what sells. For example, it’s surprisingly common to find deep fried cheese and chips as the (what I would expect to be “healthy”) vegetarian option!

I realise I’m overly strict on myself with my menu selections (some might argue I’m getting close to the point of obsession).  I am definitely being more strict than I need to be (technically I can eat anything, just not loads of the wrong stuff).  In my defence, I feel like I’m on a roll and I’d like to stick to it.  It seems to be doing me good, so why change it?

Since the Heart Attack, I’ve generally favoured Sushi joints for socialising as I get a good selection of food that I know hasn’t got lots of hidden bad stuff in it.  This does however result in tricky stand-off when I eat with someone who’s allergic to seafood!  I have also discovered that teenage kids can only take so much fish!  So going out starts to become an issue.

Not what I had in mind!

The menu restrictions often result in me ordering some sort of salad (dressing on the side).  The good thing is that I like salad ingredients, some of them a lot.  The bad thing is that my hunger is rarely fully satisfied.  Why?  Just because you order salad doesn’t mean you have the appetite of a tortoise.

I think the logic must go along the lines of:

  • People who order salads are watching what they eat …
  • People who watch what they eat want to lose weight…
  • People who want to lose weight need to eat less…
  • To help them eat less we’ll give them a smaller portion…
  • Therefore, people who order salads get smaller portions!!!

No!!!  What I really want is a “Man Salad”.

Some places “get it” (see last night’s example below), most don’t.

Man's Salad

That’s what I call a salad. Nicely loaded on a large plate.
Substantially more than a nibble!

How nice would it be for an order to go along the lines of:

Waiter / Waitress:  “… and for you sir?”
Me:  “I’d like a Salmon Salad please.  Can you bring the dressing on the side.”
Waiter / Waitress:  “Certainly sir.  And, how hungry are you?”
Me:  “Oh, I’m hungry.”
Waiter / Waitress:  “Then we shall prepare you a proper salad sir.  A man’s salad.  Would you like a larger table?”