There are Courses…and there are MOOCs

Last week, I started two very different courses and they are worlds apart.

Firstly, I am doing a web design and WordPress course at a Local Authority College.  The ‘Digital Suite’  is a very small room with a very large radiator, belting out heat.  There are ten tiny workstations wedged into the room.  Fortunately, only seven people have signed up, otherwise we would struggle to squeeze in.  We will all be sitting in this tiny room for 3 hours every Monday afternoon, trying to get to grips with the heat from the radiator and building a website.  As with all group courses the pace of study is likely to be determined by the slowest person, and I am hoping it’s not me! Continue Reading →

Back to School

       Today my 3 sons went back to school.  They all had very different Christmas breaks and all went back in very different moods.  It made me realise just how short childhood is these days.
       Son 3 is 5 years old and in Reception year at school.  I think that there is every chance that if you analysed it, being 5 is just about as good as it gets at Christmas.  He wholeheartedly, 100% KNOWS that Father Christmas is real, and more importantly, he KNOWS that Father Christmas lives at Bocketts Farm in the week before Christmas.  He has no doubts and always gets the thing he most wants for Christmas (this year’s random request was for a toy horse – simple!).  For him the last 3 weeks have been a constant stream of family visitors, special meals, chocolate treats, cinema visits and playdates.  As always the final day of the holidays is reserved for a visit to the Dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum.  His ‘dinosaur phase’ is now in its third year and doesn’t show any signs of fading. Continue Reading →

New Year Hopes Not-Resolutions

I have never broken
a New Year’s Resolution…fact.  Truth is I have never made any to break.  Rather than give up drinking
in January, I did once pledge to drink every day for the whole month.  Something that I achieved way too easily.  However, since I am currently at what can only be described as a turning point in my life, I am allowing myself a few very simple ‘hopes’ for my new life in 2014. Continue Reading →

I’m doing a MOOC..yes a MOOC

I am allowing myself plenty of time to achieve my career change and one of the luxuries I am giving myself is the chance to do some courses.  Some are aimed at improving my skills and make me more employable, some will be an attempt to reignite my long-defunct creativity, but one is just for my own self-indulgent pleasure.
Next week I am taking part in a MOOC – a Massive Open Online Course.  The Introduction to Forensic Science course is being run by the University of Strathclyde and will be the first course to be run by Futurelearn, a private company owned by The Open University.  There is no formal qualification, the courses are purely for pleasure and for me this is simply an itch that I needed to scratch.  Continue Reading →

2013 – What did I learn?

I didn’t expect much from 2013, just another year grinding away in the same old job 11 hours a day, a bit of commuting and then all my ‘real life’ squeezed in to the periphery.  I knew I was fed up,  I even hoped that I would be made redundant to spur me into changing my life, but each round of redundancies left me untouched, sitting, staring at my wall of computer screens.

My back ached all day, every day, from being slumped in front of a screen for more than 20 years.  For 18 months I had physio for my knees, knees that simply didn’t work anymore as my legs had forgotten how to work properly.  My physio pointed out that I wasn’t alone, I am part of the first generation who have sat still for decades, we are the guinea pigs that prove that technology might save time and headcount, but when you reach the point of conducting your whole life from a screen then you are no longer living your life…or using your body parts.

Christmas Cake

OK, so it falls short of sky-diving or bungee-jumping, but as I am trying new things I decided it was high time I baked my first Christmas cake.  Considering I spend as much time shopping for food and preparing it as I do sleeping, it’s odd that I haven’t made one before.  My 5 year old son wanted to help and dragged his little step ladder over to the kitchen island to ‘help’.  As he is getting to grips with his maths these days, the digital scales could have been educational, except he decided that all measurements needed to be done to the gram, so the weighing took a while!  Chopping the glace cherries was a thankless task as he ate them as quickly as I could chop them, but we got there in the end.  He helped me mix it all up and best of all the three tablespoons of brandy in the recipe made him turn his nose up at the leftover cake mixture – a bit of a treat for me as I don’t normally get near the bowl.

Top tip I had been given was to tie brown paper folded four times around the outside of the cake tin to stop the cake burning.  Hadn’t heard of that before but it worked a treat!  Pretty pleased with the results.

Picture of Christmas Cake
If you fancy having a go, this is the recipe I used for a 9 inch cake:

Continue Reading →

Mince Pies…and Cardboard Boxes

      Enough procrastination, and on to the first phase of my career change project.  I quickly realised that voluntary work was going to be a way to sharpen up any ‘real world’ skills I might have, to have fun and to widen my network.  What I didn’t realise was that working for free is a very competitive marketplace and I would be the oldest intern in town!  My CV was so dull that I was forced to delete the phrase ‘transferable skills’ as it slowly dawned on me that these seemed a little sparse.  I knew it was important to feel inspired by the project or cause if I was going to be a useful volunteer, and after a few weeks of trawling through Escape The City, Enternships, and CharityJob I found the ideal project: The Mince Pie Project 2013. Continue Reading →

‘Girls’ Night Out – The Cowshed & Les Trois Garcons

Cows eating grass

The Girls Night Out has meant a variety of things over the years.  Our lives have evolved, and what used to be long drawn out drinking sessions and a stagger to a club, have also evolved.  The Girls Night Out has become a small window of time where we get to be ourselves and unwind.  Yesterday was a real treat.  I have not been splashing out since I stopped work, so felt I had earned a little indulgence.  We kicked off at the Cowshed Shoreditch for a selection of manicures, facials and massages and a few bottles of Prosecco.  2013 is the year of me trying new things and so I came to have my first ever pedicure.
There are two reasons for me never having had a pedicure, firstly i am ticklish beyond belief, but secondly I have a foot phobia and the very thought of my feet being touched by someone else makes me feel a bit …eeeuw.  I don’t touch feet …ever and I try to avoid even looking at feet at all as they make me feel a little light headed and woozy – especially if they are sporting a flip flop. I decided to be brave. Continue Reading →

Don’t Underestimate the School Gate Mum

The thing I have most enjoyed about unemployment (apart from extra sleep) is having a bit of extra time just to talk to friends and to make new friends and contacts.  Conversations take a different course when you tell people you are career changing and there is a genuine outpouring of enthusiasm for your project which spurs you forward.
When I was stuck in the hamster wheel any conversation that touched on work would end abruptly after the question ‘And what do you do?’. My answer would be ‘I’m a Banker’….tumbleweed. I don’t think this was a media-driven hatred towards Bankers (although sometimes that was certainly the case), but in conversational terms it is a dead end.  Now I say ‘I’m not working as I am in the middle of a career change’. ‘Ooooh, what do you want to do?’ people say, excited for you.  After 15 minutes you have opened your heart and got to know this new person on a different level. Continue Reading →

Procrastination….and Meatballs

       Although I had a few months to prepare for being made redundant I somehow didn’t seem to manage to clear my ‘To Do’ list in order for me to sit back and take it easy for a few weeks.  Today the rain is throwing itself down and even though I had the day mapped out, I managed to walk into the leg of a chair at 8am and break my middle toe.  The day I had set aside for running around to organise my son’s 5th birthday party is abandoned and I am at home with a loudly throbbing foot.
       Never mind, I have lots to do in my search for Happy Work, so I can do some research, work on my ‘network’, draft a CV etc.
I spend an hour on Facebook. Continue Reading →