Saturday, 4 June 2011


I'm 31. In my opinion I am still young. Okay, I'm not twenty any more. But I'm not seventy either. I have no real issue with my age as I am now. But maybe I will as time goes by. Sometimes I wonder where the time went so far and know that in another 31 years I will be quite a ripe age.

I think I have achieved a fair amount for the age I am. There will always be someone who has achieved more or taken a more sensible path. As long as I am happy with me, other people's opinions do not matter.

If I could turn the clock back ten years where would I be? Still at university studying my Dip HE, still gawky, still awkward, lacking the confidence that I was okay being me. And still facing the heartache I felt in my late twenties as I had my first experience of depression and felt I would never get better. Realistically I couldn't take off my 31 year old head and plant it on my 21 year old body so I might have to make do with the frown lines.

I may not pass for an adolescent but then if I did I wouldn't have much credibility with my clients.

"A comfortable old age is the reward of a well-spent youth. Instead of its bringing sad and melancholy prospects of decay, it would give us hopes of eternal youth in a better world." - Maurice Chevalier

Friday, 3 June 2011

Shared Accommodation

It's not easy living in shared accommodation when you're also trying to be a family. On the whole I don't think we do a bad job. But it's not easy.

We have the same strains and stresses as any other family just trying to live day to day. It is impossible to keep everything that goes on between the three of ourselves to ourselves. Don't get me wrong, we have a lot of fun, but all families have ups and downs.

On the other side of it we are not just a family trying to adjust to daily issues and problems which come up. the majority of people we have lived with have been friendly, honest, entertaining, considerate and, above all, non-smokers. In fact this year our non-smoking house has helped one of our housemates to give up smoking (as a public health nurse I am rather proud of this achievement, even if it was all his own work!)

We have lived with the occasionally difficult person though. A few years ago we had rabbits in the back garden and one of our housemates beheaded them. We didn't replace them, it wasn't fair to risk it happening again.

Another woman tried to get really inside my relationship with my husband. I have no idea why anyone would want to do that. Even now I cannot figure it out. But she had an opinion on everything about us and she made it known.

And someone from Brazil ran out of money so he tried to pay us with his laptop. We had to explain that we couldn't buy nappies with a computer.

Then there was the woman who apparently couldn't write cheques out because every time she wrote one she wrote some part of it incorrectly.

Or the man who told me he never drank but didn't mind that we did. Before a month was up he was drinking night after night and we didn't see him in the day. We realised he was likely to be a recovering alcoholic and had to ask him to leave for the sake of our son.

Still in general these housemates appeared to be pleasant characters. We have lived with about 25 other people since we moved in. I don't think any of them have been really nasty but some of the examples above are quite stressful events. When living as a family in a small amount of space some of these stresses are magnified.

Feel free to share your stories of sharing accommodation with other people in the comments section below.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Thieves at Vauxhall

Our family car is a Vauxhall Corsa EcoFlex 1.3l diesel. We purchased it new in February 2010. Originally I found the gears "sticky" and the clutch to have a lower-than-I-would-like biting point. Friends I complained to told me that it would take a bit of time to bed in. In February 2011 I took the car in for it's first service. I was rather pleased I was able to take it in and sit in the waiting room while it was worked on. A little over an hour later it was ready to go having had no amendments. I raised my concerns about the clutch and was told there were no problems with it.

So I was pretty stunned on Sunday to make the journey to Edinburgh only to break down on the A1 30 miles short of my destination. Someone (who shall remain nameless!) decided I should be towed to Edinburgh rather than London (and it is partly my fault for not having charged my phone properly before setting out on a long journey and being able to get my point across). The man who towed me was very friendly and said he thought it was the clutch. He took me to the nearest Vauxhall franchise: Peter Vardy.

On Monday it was an English bank holiday, not so in Scotland. Vauxhall said they could book us in for Thursday. Not so great because I had to return to work Tuesday, well at the latest Thursday. But we didn't have much choice.

An Edinburgh friend of ours tried to get one of her friends to help us in case he could do the work sooner. He could. He went away and tried to find out what I would be likely to pay him to get the work done. He reckoned that the duel max had burned out the clutch in several cars he had seen and given the youth of our car I should do everything possible to get the work done under warranty.

My mum was helpful: she had a similar problem with a car she had bought secondhand, the clutch burned out after six weeks. She contacted the manufacturer who agreed it should not have worn out so soon. She told me not to give up.

Peter Vardy rang to say it would cost £306 to strip the car to diagnose the problem. They would see if they could waive the fee if it was a warranty job but it looked like wear and tear. Given that they had not been able to look, I did not believe they could offer such a judgement. They did promise to take pictures or keep the components.

Our usual mechanic in London called me and reckoned there was nothing wrong with the clutch on old car (which we had to get rid of at 5 years old due to other problems). He gave me some advice on checking out prices with Evans Halshaw where we bought the car.

Evans Halshaw told me how much a clutch would cost but would not tell me how much labour would cost.

After realising the bill was going to be pretty steep and that my pleas about being an advanced driver were not going to cut the mustard my husband and I decided to come back to London. It removed the vibes of urgency Peter Vardy were getting from me because I am stuck in London without a car regardless of whether they fix it today, tomorrow or next week.

They rang today stating that the manufacturer cite "driver abuse" or "pilot error" - a stock answer I am sure to prevent me from trying to get the work done under warranty. Apparently our duel max has nothing wrong with it. Warranty on the clutch for our car specifically only lasts for 18,500 miles and by some strange coincidence that happens to be roughly the number of miles on my clock (thanks work for adding an extra 150-200 miles per month to my clock). I have checked with Vauxhall Customer Services and apparently the information given to me by Peter Vardy is correct. But then why would Vauxhall admit fault when they would have to stump up over £900?

As some sort of mitigating statement the man I have been speaking to about all this told me that clutches just aren't made the way they used to be. Not particularly comforting. He also cannot guarantee that another clutch would even last 15 months.

I have also been in touch with my driving instructor who is not of the impression I am rough with the gearbox. I do a very similar job I did when we had our previous car. My husband doesn't use the car nearly as much as me so it shouldn't be his fault.

Tomorrow I am going to try Vauxhall Head Office and try making a complaint. Beyond this I am not entirely sure what to try. Answers on a postcard please!

Thursday, 26 May 2011

NLP with JCI

Tonight Lorraine Warne came to talk to us about Neuro Linguistics Programming (NLP).

Every day we interact with people through our daily lives. A lot of our communication is unconscious. The words we speak are just the tip of the iceberg. Did you know that only 7% of our communication is through words? The skills used in NLP help us to access the rest of the communication iceberg.

Some of these skills include mirroring and matching so we did a few exercises where we mirrored and matched, or didn't mirror or match, someone else in our group. It was funny trying to disagree with our partner while matching their body language. It was also difficult trying to agree with our partner while not matching their body language. It made me realise these would be quite good skills to use in negotiations. They might help you:

At work to -
  • smooth workplace politics
  • reduce levels of conflict in the office
  • improve communication with patients, clients or customers
  • increase sales
  • help you be a better teacher

Personally to -
  • help improve your family relationships
  • help you overcome fears
  • help you achieve your goals
  • build your confidence

A two hour surface was enough only to let our group scratch the surface of NLP but it was a toe worth dipping!

JCI London

Monday, 23 May 2011

Some Time on My Own

All is quiet. My son and husband have gone to bed - in a tent outside no less. I finally have the chance to sit down and reflect.

The day has been busy, weekend tasks were disrupted and I have managed to achieve many of these during the evening. Recently I have been too exhausted to make use of evenings in this way so I am pleased with tonight's gains.

I am enthusiastic. I am trying to slow down ready for a good night's sleep. And I think I will achieve that. But I have a lot of energy. Today I have tried to focus on my son's chores too. It is important that he learns to be independent to an age appropriate level. We concentrated on reading and his cleaning hamster cage. It is challenging for me to do these important tasks when I have so much on my own agenda.

Emotionally I am much lighter than I have been for several months. The weather is good. Things I turn to seem easier. My list is easier to tick. Positives are easier to see.

Now I am feeling like I can at least see the top of the world I need to maintain myself. I need to find a balance between achieving as much as possible and looking after myself.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Final Day as a Student

Today is my final day as a student. Feels a bit weird. I have been a student almost all of my adult working life, bar a couple of months here and there.

This afternoon was the final part of my two CPAD modules which I took in order to undertake my current role as a practice teacher. My student was very kind and joined me so that I could be observed teaching her. I managed to find a gap in her knowledge so that she would find it beneficial to attend the session. The topic was eyes. We discussed the anatomy and physiology of the eye, common eye conditions in children, looked at the difference between screening and surveillance eye tests, the advantages and disadvantages of Snellen and LogMAR, referrals and recording, practise with the LogMAR book. And then the 45 minutes was up and it was time to critique my performance.

Overall not so bad: got the facts across and used a range of diagrams and practical equipment to help show what I was talking about. I incorporated the student's learning needs by questioning what she already knew and building upon that. It was a great help that she and I already have such a good relationship. But I could have used more styles of teaching and maybe have set a quiz to find out more about the student's knowledge.

So now I am no longer a student. But that is not the end of the story - mark my words I will be back!

Big day tomorrow
Next step on the educational ladder
Three weeks in
My First Blogged Essay
My Second Blogged Essay
My Third Blogged Essay