Top Ten First World Problems

If I were creating such a list, top of this one would be the end of Summer Time. Now by this I don’t mean the end lazy of days by the beach, drinks outside, wasps or cows sharing your picnic etc.

In the UK that all ended weeks and weeks ago and sure that is a disappointment, but we just have to embrace the seasons. Indeed us Britons have all been well trained since we are toddlers to be ready for bad weather at any time, the formation of orderly queues for shelter, ruined days out and generally being very polite stoic about all of these things!

No, the problem is the changing of the clocks at the end of British Summer Time and reverting to the real time! That is GMT (Greenwich Mean time) , we generally don’t like to depress ourselves further by calling it Winter time.

Its a bit like one of these early computer games where you had to eradicate gremlins that would keep popping up on your screen , and just when you thought you had them all, another one pops up.

We have this problem with there being clocks everywhere – everything imaginable has a clock: mobile phones and landline phones – actually these seem to be able to cope with this momentous day in our life and update themselves, as do the clocks in at least one of our cars…the other car will resolutely show the wrong time for 6 months of the year.

Then there is the cooker in the kitchen – the changing of the clock display on this always necessitates finding the gravy stained owners manual and still the process always goes wrong and instead of retarding the clock by one hour we seem to be setting an auto-cook setting with the oven timer, for a 1kg – 2kg chicken (no giblets)! So, then onto the microwave, similar problems…manual needed, and just when we thought we had done it we noticed that its actually a defrost process we have just initiated…..!

So thinking then that all bases are then covered, we noticed our energy Smart meter was showing us the time in Paris, France not Yorkshire, England so that needed intervention too. Smart meters are smart in name only – we have had ours a year and it has never so much answered a crossword clue, or even one of the easier questions on University Challenge! Its actually not even so smart at doing stuff its supposed to do like displaying how much energy we are using. Quite important really with all the additional flashing displays and bleeps going on at the moment from various domestic appliances that are being adjusted!

So having completed everything, a quick stroll into the garden…….aaargh, I had forgotten the recent addition of a garden clock. Thankfully no instructions needed…its very analogue and just needs its hands moving!

Happy clock change day, if its happening with you today!

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Just living the dream or living in Hope?

In the UK we have a good selection of town and village names that will bring a smile of amusement to those that chance upon them. One of my favourites is the village of Ugley. Inevitably it’s various organisations and clubs prefixed with the village name periodically feature on the internet..top one being the Ugley Woman’s Institute.

All credit to the village hall who embrace this strangely found fame!

The Woman’s Institute or WI for those from outside the UK is essentially a social club for middle class ladies of a certain age ! At one time considered a staid, safe and reassuring bastion of jam recipes and flower arranging, but more recently epitomized as risque from the film Calendar Girls based on the (true ) story of when a WI in North Yorkshire did a nude calendar photo shoot to turbo charge their fund raising for cancer research! Who says village life is dull!

Anyway added to my list of favourite village names is Hope where we went walking a few weekends ago. Wouldn’t we all like to live in Hope? In reality most of us do……

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A mars bar, a glass of rose and usually a hug!

With all due respect to Accor Hotels, owners of the Ibis brand, not many people would be heard to ask the question ” is there surely just no better place than the Ibis Hotel at Luton Airport” . Well yes and no is the obvious answer to that!

Certainly it’s not a destination on most bucket lists, but most people do need a day job to fund the fun!

When I was offered a job at one of the airlines head quartered at London’s Luton Airport I had the option of not relocating to the area but just being there for 2 or 3 days of my working week; the rest of the time I was mostly travelling or worked from home.

So the Hotel Ibis became my ‘home from home’ for 2 nights most weeks for 5 years! When you stay in a hotel for 5 years two things happen…you either hate it and feel frustrated that on those days you are not in your own home and socialising with family and friends. Or you embrace the unique position you are in that you get to know the hotel staff and they get to know you very, very well and you develop a relationship that other customers just cannot have.

I very much went for the latter – on arrival always big smiles and often a hug…much to the bemusement of other customers; some chocolate in my room and some fresh milk ready for me to take to my room as they knew I liked “A proper cup of tea”.

Quite often, in the later part of the evening, a phone call to me suggesting to come down now for a chat, particularly if it had been busy at reception on arriving earlier. A glass of wine would be already poured for me…

If I was going out meeting work friends in the area or going into London for the evening, I didn’t come and go anonymously- there would be discussion on where to go , what to do and even on what I should wear!

The hotel had a very international staff from Lithuania, Romania, Latvia, Poland, Russia, Germany and many other countries as well as the UK and over their shift patterns I got to know them all. One thing that never ceased to amuse me that one of the employees Jesus was often rostered with his colleague Christ doing the next shift…I am serious!

I also had a few birthdays there over the years and something special was always done for me at breakfast on these days…much to the surprise of other customers.

But now life has moved on and I no longer work for that airline and don’t need to stay there…but the friendships with many of the people remain.

In fact on my last night there, I was presented with gifts, farewell cards and a had a leaving drinks party…A better send off than I have had from some of my own workplaces!

If ever I learnt something from this, is that friendships can develop in any part of your life and it’s the unexpected ones that can be the best!

Happy days! ….With love to Kristina, George, Valentina, Christ, Nikki, Jesus, Alex and many others who I have may have omitted …….

Greek dancing in the office

Much is being written at the moment about how people working from home during present times are missing out on the social interaction of working in the office.

I agree.

Its actually a while since I regularly worked in an office as I now work for an International employer headquartered in Germany, but am home based in the UK (irrespective of Covid etc.)

But back in the 1980’s (yes, I know its unbelievable I was even at work then and not at nursery school, or even just a twinkle in the eye of my parents!) I worked in an office of a small Greek Travel Company of about fifteen people above a fashion retailer in London’s trendy South Moulton Street in the West End.

London has a large Greek, mostly Greek Cypriot community and many of my colleagues were from there. It was a young and fun place to work and in fact probably some of my happiest working days were at that company as we had a great post work social life there as we really were minutes from everything in the West End.

Anyway one of my colleagues Maria was getting married and we were all invited to the wedding …but a prerequisite …we had to participate fully in the dancing at the reception of this huge event. And when I say huge, I really mean huge! So at lunchtime every day for two weeks before the wedding another colleague Georgia would teach us Greek dancing in our tiny little kitchen/staff room. Well, we learnt the basics and didn’t disgrace ourselves totally at the wedding….such fun times.

Well my career in travel and aviation has taken me back to Greece many times over the years and much as I don’t have a professional need of those skills that I learnt (I think…) , I always feel so at home when I hear the music in Tavernas and restaurants. Ευχαριστώ Georgia !

So employers and leaders, never forget the value of office life…when it can be safely provided!