Well, hello. Anyone still there? It’s been a while.
I kinda explained what was going on way back in November, and I still can’t really believe it’s March. The 300% project as I referred to it stayed that way. I spent quite a lot of time in Netherlands in Utrecht. It’s a beautiful city and I love the country. Utrecht feels quintessentially Dutch with the canal winding down narrow brick paved streets. There’s a plethora of restaurants and bars down actually on the canal in the arches that I guess used to store stock and it creates a nice atmosphere.
The problem is that I started getting resentful of being told where and when I needed to be. I’m sure this is ground I’ve covered before, but I feel that business travel strips you of some liberties. That sounds dramatic, and I suppose it is. But my point is that I can’t do things I want to do while I have to be away. The Devil’s Advocate would say to embrace being somewhere else, but when you’re on a 5.55am flight on a Monday morning, working till 8 or 9pm every night and then trying to find somewhere to eat, one doesn’t have time or inclination and not having your own resources feels even more restrictive.
One Sunday afternoon I was at the match and it came across me that I needed to go home to pack, so it affects me even when I’m not there.
Again, I can hear someone telling me to take advantage of the situation and there was a time that I did, but I’m passed that.
The project itself finally got done. I think there were only two points during it that my status wasn’t red, whereby red is “at risk”, amber is “off track but with a plan” and green is “on track”. My red meant that the whole project was red. They actually started to find deeper shades of red which is all shits and giggles until it’s you that’s the subject of the hilarity.
The only times I wasn’t red was one week in and right at the end. I guess that the latter is the important time but there were only two days I didn’t work between middle of November and mid-February, so I was exhausted. I was also gutted to have missed Christmas, essentially. One of the consultants I was working with resigned as a result of what he was having to do, and another warned our project management that they had “created a culture that is killing your employees”.
It didn’t kill me, but one afternoon I was at the factory and felt a bit of toothache coming on. While I was on the train it started to get worse, so I went and got some drugs at the airport and dribbled my way through the flight home with my whole head hurting. I got home and figured that if I went to bed I’d drift off and wake up in the morning with it gone away. That didn’t happen and I embarrassingly took myself to A&E at 3 in the morning figuring that they could probably give me something stronger than a Dutch supermarket. I actually woke up shouting it hurt that much; I’ve broken bones but never felt anything quite like that.
Later that day the dentist was taking a wisdom tooth out. A few hours after that whilst still feeling the effects of anaesthetic and with a blood pack in the back of my swollen mouth, I had to give a presentation. Not quite sure how I got through that.
One of the other reasons Christmas wasn’t the best was that I’d been to see some friends in Manchester in mid-December. The day kind of got away from us for a number of reasons and I ended up staying later than I really wanted to. As I got back to the car I pressed the button on the key to unlock it and heard a funny noise. Turns out someone had broken in to it. They do it by levering the window out the frame but me having a convertible had caused them some issues with a lot less frame to lever against, so they made a bit of a mess, and then didn’t even take anything because there was nothing to take.
The lack of frame means that there’s no real way to temporarily deal with it. Taping cling film over it doesn’t work because the pressure over the surface caused by the aerodynamics when the car is moving just rips it off, and there’s no frame to wrap it round. I had to wait six weeks for a new window. I left the car in my grandmother’s garage and was lucky enough that I could borrow hers for that period.
That gave me some freedom which I greatly appreciated, but, and this isn’t supposed to be a humble brag, but I drive a four year old Audi TT. It’s a two seater but has a well built up cockpit so it feels quite safe. It’s low, and it’s quick. It’s an automatic, but with paddle shift when you need it or fancy it. My grandmother drives (well, she doesn’t, she just owns) a ten year old Fiat Panda. It’s tall, it’s tiny, it’s slow and it’s manual. It was fine pottering around and I did really appreciate it, but also felt remarkably unsafe.
I’d forgotten what it was like to actually drive a car. Mine is easy. The Panda required so much more thought. I only stalled it once though. Was quite impressed. I just didn’t want to take it any great distance.
I’ve used the car park I was in at least once a week for something like the last 6 years and it’s cheap so it doesn’t owe me anything. The biggest annoyance was the feeling that I lost the use of my car rather than the finance.
There had been talk at work about how much they would have to pay me to stop me from going on holiday but I believe that was stopped as fast as it was started. I went snowboarding to Val Thorens again. As little as I really didn’t fancy another early start to an airport, it was nice to be away.
I don’t think I’ve ever been snowboarding in such difficult conditions. It was only on the first day that we got a groomed piste. After that we got the end of Storm Ciara I assume. We went up one lift and the wind at the top was measured at 91kph. Three snowboarders in front of me all put their boards on, stood up and fell over. I stood up but couldn’t stop the wind blowing me to the edge of the track so gave up and went another way.
I guess the other big win of the holiday was surviving the Chinese Fondue in the hotel one night! Being presented with a plate of raw meat and soup to cook it in, without another plate to eat off jus felt like e-coli waiting to happen.
The Sunday we got back was the first Sunday I could remember that I felt genuinely relaxed. I’ve only ever had that feeling once before. I actually felt that my time was my own, and that the world was my oyster. Faced with so many options, I caught a cold!
I suppose that brings you up to speed. I know it’s been a while but know that there have been times I’ve wanted to talk to you over the last couple of months. I’m not sure what the immediate future holds. I’m still trying to work out a plan, but I’m finding it hard. For now, I think I’ll enjoy not having one.