Total Pageviews

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Let's get this show on the road

My bag has been packed and my legs have been waxed, so all being well, I will be off to Cornwall within the hour. It has been a strange couple of weeks, with my levels of tiredess increasing more each day, so I really need this rest. The forecast looks good, so all being well, this time tomorrow I shall be on my way to a beautiful Cornish beach for long walks along the cliff tops, watching the birds and listening to the surf.

I don't think that anyone who has a sedentary job can fully appreciate just how tiring a manual job like mine can be - with an office job you get mentally tired and your neck and shoulders ache from hours at the computer, but with my job, every single muscle aches from the moment I awake to the moment I go back to sleep. Lately I have been going to bed tired and waking up tired, with a headache that refuses to go away. At moments like that, I wonder whether I should leave and find something less exhausting, but then I look at the faces of the old people sitting in the dining room at lunch, or in the conservatory reading and doing what they like to do, and realise why I am really there - it is not about cleaning up their mess, but about making a difference to their lives, and an office job would not offer me that, so for the moment at least, I stay.

Our new Manager started on Monday, five months after the previous one left, and she has been ruffling feathers already. She is a very tall and commanding woman with a huge prescence, and very firm ideas as to how things will be - and some of those ideas will not necessarily agree with certain members of staff, or for that matter, the Directors. I had to chuckle the other day when I overheard a conversation between her and her Deputy to the effect that neither of them can stand the Directors, and their attitude towards things! It is good then to know that we have at least one thing in common ...

But, I am on holiday for this week, and so work should be the furthest thing from my mind - on that note then, time to zip up that bag and get this show on the road.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Five days by the sea

Since the Olympic Test Race, which will be four weeks tomorrow, I have been trying to decide where if anywhere I shall go for my next holiday at the end of September. Orignally I had planned to take a full five days holiday, stretching it around my days off to nine, but when I realised that this would not allow me sufficient time for a trip to Lundy in the late winter/early spring, somewhat reluctantly changed this to three days, seven when you allow for my regular days off. My working schedule means that I have Thursday and Friday off one week and Saturday and Sunday the next. Since this is a seven day a week business, in order to have these weekends off, I have to work for seven days in a row beforehand, which really is exhausting. Having to chnage my plans in this way is then less than ideal, since it now means that I will have to work for seven straight days upon my return, but in this case, it cannot be helped.

This could have been avoided if I had not taken a long weekend off for the Olympic Test Race, but at the time I felt that it was necessary to get the pictures that I thought we would need for a special Olympic edition of the newsletter that I hoped we would publish next summer. Unfortunately for me, the rest of the Box Hill News team, for reasons of their own, did not feel that this was a good idea, and so those two days were in effect wasted. Coran and I were not best pleased about this, but what can you do?

The combined effects of this, Corans health issues (he continues to have tests to find out what is causing his sudden energy dips) and constant staff shortages at work, has not surprisingly left me extremely depleted and lacking in energy, so much so that I have been going to bed most nights this week by 8pm. Sleep when it does come is fitful. I wake up several times a night, and once awake, find it extremely dificult to get back to sleep. I wish there was some way top break this cycle, but I have no idea of what it might be. I suspect that what I need is to get out into the fresh air in nature, in particular to sit near the sea. I realise now that it was a mistake to rent a car for as long as I did on the Isle of Man, as it meant that I was unable to do this, and I am now reeping the results, in that I have not had my full quota of light to set me up for the winter months ahead, hence the fact that I find myself now craving the outdoors in a way that I haven't for quite some time.

This is why, despite the long drive, I have decided to go to Cornwall again at the end of the month - actually Cornwall and North Devon. I enjoyed that week that I had there last year so much, walking by the sea and breathing in the air, that I really feel that I need that again, before the winter sets in and I lose the chance. So, I have booked two nights at the youth hostel in Tintagel and three at Westward Ho. I know that part of Devon well from those previous trips to Lundy, and it is a beautiful part of the country, ideal for relaxing by the sea, or on a clifftop with a good book, or in my case, a collection of good books on a Kindle. I can't wait.

Friday, 2 September 2011

Re-kindleing my interest

Last week after several months of deliberations, I finally went out and bought a Kindle. A Kindle for those that do not read books (I really pity those poor souls what they are missing out on), or otherwise live on Mars, is an electronic reading device similar to an Ipod, whereby books are downloaded via a computer direct to the device where they can then be read.

There are quite a few of these on the market, but the Kindle is by far the best in terms of value, not least of all because of the screen which enables you to read in bright sunlight without glare. There are two (in the UK at least, in the US there are three) versions available, one of which works on a normal Wifi signal and one of which works on 3G. 3G is the signal normally used by mobile phones. What this means in layman's terms is that the the 3G model can be used to download books anywhere that a mobile phone can also be used, whereas the non 3G version, which I plumpled for, mainly because of security concerns, can be used only at home or in secure Wifi "hotspots", such as coffee shops and the like. The most obvious advantage of this is that books can be downloaded where and when you like (in some instances I am told, for the more unethical readers, Waterstones - a practise I would never condone). This would be little comfort though if your password details were stolen and your accound hacked into because the network was not secure, as many of them are not, so for the moment at least, I prefer the non 3G version.

This small device though with its six inch screen (the perfect size for a girl), has revlutionised my reading habits. I no longer have to go to bookstores and spend hours browsing the aisles, but can now order everything from the comfort of my own home. If I am not sure as to whether I will like the book, instead of flipping through it in store, I can download a free sample chapter direct to my Kindle in less than a second, and peruse it at my leisure.

Increasingly books are being published only as e-books with no paper edition at all, so it has also opened up a whole new world of choice - books from all around the world in all different genres. In the short time (nine days now) since I have had the device I have downloaded sample chapters from books set in at least six different countries, most of which I will buy. I would almost certainly not have been aware of any of these had I not purchased my Kindle.

Sure, it has taken a bit of getting used to, and nothing will ever compare to the feel of paper and the smell of an old book, but these will still be around for the collectors to enjoy. In practical terms the Kindle will win every time, for that one small device, not much bigger than the palm of my hand can hold 3500 books, more than I am likely to read in my lifetime, with a battery that lasts up a month. How much space would 3500 books take up in your house? It is also better for the environment, since all that paper and ink need no longer be used. E-books may have VAT on them, but in most cases they are still at least a few pence cheaper. The biggest advantage of all though is for the person who actually writes the book, as for the first time, they can publish books direct to the Kindle, taking 70 percent of the profits and cutting out all those middle men - except of course Amazon, who I am beginning to realise are not so evil after all.

The Kindle then for me wins every time, for with this, everyone especially the author, really is a winner, and that is what it is all about.