All entries for March 2007

March 18, 2007

'Surprise' – SaRah in London

On Saturday (after only getting to bed at 1am!), I was up at 7:20 to get ready to go up to London to meet Adam and Troë, and to surprise SaRah!

Mum dropped me at Newton Abbot railway station in time for the train, and I read and slept for the journey up, arriving into Paddington at 11:21. I rang Troë to see where they were (two stops from Victoria), and where I should meet them, (outside Boots.) Thing is, they realised there are 3 branches of Boots at Victoria railway station!

Well, I crept up behind them, (at one point I thought SaRah had spotted me…), and surprised SaRah – it was great; she was so shocked to see me! I do love it when a plan comes together. After much hugging we set off to go and show SaRah the sights. We walked to Westminster Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, the Palace of Westminster, and then took the tube to The Tower of London, and Tower Bridge.

Tower Bridge

We had lunch in Wetherspoons (everyone had burgers!), got St Patrick’s Day Guinness badges, and SaRah tried Salad Cream (Mingy!) – we then walked to the Tower, but didn’t go in as it was £16! Instead we walked back along the river past Custom House to St Paul’s Cathedral, over the millennium bridge to the Tate Modern, where we went on the new slides (only the small one, the tall ones had massive queues!).

St Paul

We then popped into St Paul’s to look around, it is really quite grand inside. We then made our way by tube to Oxford Circus, going into Hamleys and up the Narnia staircase, down to Piccadilly Circus, and through Admiralty Arch to the Mall to see Buckingham Palace.

It was here that I had to leave the guys, as I had to get the 19:05 train back to Devon. So at 6:20 I set off up to Hyde Park corner to get the tube back to Paddington. It took ages, so I missed my train by 3 minutes damn it! I could have spent longer with the guys in London, but instead I had to spend an hour waiting at the railway station before getting the train home.

I had a great time, and I was quite sad to leave them at Buckingham Palace, as it is the only time all four of us will be together in the UK. But I am really excited that SaRah is coming to stay for a few days before she flies back to Canada – I can’t wait – yay!


Comic Relief!

For the first time ever, this year I got involved in the whole Comic Relief thing, and not by just watching the television at home.

Now I donate to charity every month. I have a direct debit to Oxfam, who are my charity of choice, as there are too many good charities to choose from. I also have a comic relief credit card from Nationwide Building Society, which donates 0.5% of my purchases to comic relief, so the more I spend, the more I give.

This year however, TA was manning the phones at EDF energy in Exeter, so when she invited me, I said yes. I arrived at about 8pm, in order to sign in, get a red nose, and be briefed about what would happen, and what I needed to do. I didn’t get onto a desk until about 8:45, as people really didn’t want to leave! But once I did, I was sitting next to Steve, and he showed me how to sign into the phone system, and fill out the forms etc.

I wasn’t sure where TA was sat, but she sent me a text message to ask where I was, so I said I was by a TV. She pointed out it would have been more help to tell her I was sitting by Steve dressed as a large red nose. Point taken! Lol.

I took quite a few calls; there were busy periods and quiet periods (i.e. when The Vicar of Dibley was on, and Catherine Tate (Tony Blair, Classic!)) We had a bingo card with donation denominations on it, and although I didn’t complete it – I feel I did pretty well! I had two £15 donations and two £5 donations left to get! Never mind. My highest donation was £200, which was brilliant and best of all nearly everyone applied gift aid to their donations, enabling Comic Relief to claim back and extra 28 pence for every £1 in the donation. Most excellent.

I don’t really know how much I took personally, but as a call centre we took over £100,000 in donations by midnight. I had a really good time, even if sometimes I couldn’t understand a thick Scottish accent – so thanks for being patient with me!


The Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra

On Thursday, mother had a spare ticket to see the BSO at Exeter University, as one of her friends was ill. I was sitting separate from mother, she was upstairs, and I was downstairs, so I was accosted by an old woman saying (as they always do when I go to one of these, “It’s nice to see some young people here.”

They played four pieces of music:
  • Mendelssohn: The Hebrides Overture
  • Britten: Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings
  • Mozart: Horn Concerto No.3
  • Beethoven: Symphony No.8

They were all brilliantly played, but the tenor was awful, I don’t like singing, and he sounded like a castrato. Yuk. Otherwise it was all really good, especially Mozart’s Horn Concerto No.3.

The annoying thing was that during the interval, the lady sitting next to me asked if I played any musical instruments. ‘No’ I replied, “Would you like to?” – “Yes, I would like to be able to play the piano.” – “Well actually I am a piano teacher…” Instantly I regretted saying anything – why couldn’t I say violin or something – argh – she spent the next ten minutes telling me about how hard it is to learn the piano, but that most people can do it… ...it was painful, but I smiled and nodded like a good’un!


About Jane

On Wednesday, TA and I went to see About Jane at the Picturehouse in Exeter. (We were in the screen with the faux suede, but no cup holders this week!)

Now, I arranged to pick TA up from her house at 6:15, on the principal that the film was at 6:50, only it was at 6:30, so we arrived 5 minutes late, but no worry – it was only the adverts we missed, not the film! Anyway, we like to check for comments in the comment book before we go in.

You can read my full review here when I eventually write it, but suffice to say, it was a good film, with a great cast (even Anne Hathaway) but I was rooting for the ‘wrong’ guy all the way through!


Chicago!

On Tuesday night, Teri-Ann and I made our way down to Plymouth (don’t worry, we took our phrase books!) to see Chicago! at the Theatre Royal. We made it there eventually, but the centre of Plymouth has all changed since I was last there, what with the gigantic new Drake shopping centre smack bang in the middle!

Having circumnavigated the city centre, we came upon (more by good luck than good judgement one feels,) the Theatre Royal car park, and having driven past the not so obvious entrance, doubled back for a second go! We parked up, and I set about paying for a ticket, or at least trying to, seeing as how the damn evil parking ticket machine just would NOT accept my £2 coin! After much time wasted putting it in, we headed to another machine for a go – still no luck! TA went back to the car whilst I went to get change… ...from the Big Issue vendor! (£2 on a big issue, £3 coins change!) After another scary moment when it refused to take one of the £1, we had a ticked, and we meandered over the theatre!

Having bought a bag of sweets (TA some Revels, me some Skittles) we took our seats, we were at the very back of the stalls, which altogether were quite good seats, we could see all of the stage, although an occasional head would interfere!

The performance was really good, the band were fantastic and were part of the set on stage, with the conductor interacting with the actors in some scenes, and being a narrator in others. The cast were really good, but most really couldn’t hold an American accent. If you can’t do it, don’t, because it just distracts from the play. Also, the two female leads both had very squeaky voices, which screeched through you at some points. On the whole, it was a very good performance; the dancing, singing, acting for the most part was excellently done! However, at £30, I feel it was a little overpriced, but never mind eh?


March 02, 2007

Bobby and an EDF assessment centre!

Having had an ace weekend in Bournemouth, I took Monday afternoon off work because I was dog-tired! I also had Tuesday morning off for a telephone interview with EDF energy, for their Energy branch graduate scheme.

They asked a lot of standard competency based questions, like “Can you tell me about a time when you’ve had to deal with a challenging individual in a group situation?” Which I duly did, and then I asked a few scheme specific questions, but the HR lady doing the interview was pretty ill-informed, and couldn’t tell me anything! She said to wait and see if I get asked to an assessment centre. So I did!

Well anyway, on Wednesday, TA booked tickets for us to see Chicago! in Plymouth on 13th March (look out for it on the joint blog soon here! ). Lovely, until I got home and found I had been invited to an assessment centre at Gatwick on the 12/13th March! EEK! A rapid call to TA, then a call to EDF to rearrange, saw me attending an assessment centre 6 days later on the 27/28th February! (Hurried hotel and train bookings later, I was all set!)

That night TA and I went to see Venus at the cinema (read our review (eventually!) over there.) It wasn’t the best film ever, but never mind, new experiences and all that! I thought it was very well done, and exceedingly funny, but I just didn’t like it!

The weekend came and went, without anything fantastic to note (a call from Troë, and playing on Facebook!), and then on Monday I did a half-day at work before setting off for Gatwick. I have to say it’s really easy to get to, just change at Reading, which was really good, even though it takes about 4 hours. I then got a Taxi to the Travelodge and although I think the taxi-driver thought I hadn’t noticed, I was aware that we went up a road, only to turn around the roundabout and the end and double back on ourselves – twice – I wasn’t caring though, because I wasn’t paying!

EDF Assessment Centre

The Travelodge was adequate for my needs, although they REALLY need to get people on reception that can smile / de-scale their showerheads. The water was spraying all over the place, and I had a mini flood on the floor where the shower curtain had failed to stop it! I had a chicken and bacon salad in the bar (it felt a lot like Wetherspoon’s food,) and then I went to watch TV before bed. The next day I got another taxi (a better company this time!) to take me to the Renaissance Hotel!

It’s not the most architecturally wonderful building (but then so few are), in fact, it looks a lot like a seedy council estate block of flats, but that’s not really here nor there. It certainly isn’t on the inside (what with it being a Marriott!), with a pool, bar, restaurant and gym. (Not to mention flannels for hand drying in the lavatories! How twee!) I was the second person to arrive, and the others followed shortly after. There were 16 of us in total, from all over – one even flew in from New York!

First we had an introduction, before setting about on a group project, to make an exact copy of a toy car, which we had to “buy” time in 45 second increments to see, and describe to the others, and then construct. In order to make a good impression on the examiners, I launched in and read out the instructions to get the ball rolling.

Then came verbal and numerical reasoning tests, before lunch in the restaurant (which was uncannily identical to what was later served for dinner!), then a role-play with an angry customer, and finally a written exercise on a wind farm proposal. We finished the day with a group discussion about which proposal to choose, before heading to our rooms, where I called mum, watched Neighbours, and then got ready for dinner.

Everyone met in the bar at seven (we were bought a drink – just as well because I was skint!) – and we all chatted amongst ourselves, asking questions and the like about each other and the scheme etc etc. Dinner as I say was pretty much identical to lunch, including salad, and prawns, vegetables, pasta, but there was also some ‘salmon’ on offer – but not as you know it. Hmmm…. Anyway, I retired to bed at 10:30pm having conversed the night away, as I had an early slot for interview the next day, so I could travel home with ease!

The second day began with the creation of a presentation on the wind farm proposal, delivering the presentation to two examiners, followed by a technical interview. All of which I thought went well, even though the technical interview was weird, like asking about the pro’s and cons of gas storage in a fluctuating market! Hmmm. I bluffed my way through to the end (I found the woman quite brazen to be honest, which instantly put me off her!) I then sorted expenses, changed into casual wear before making my way back home, in time for Cinema Wednesday!!!

Bobby

This film was brilliant, I really enjoyed it, and it made me want to read more about Bobby Kennedy. It has to be said, he doesn’t come from a lucky family in the slightest. This film was literally star studded, and although primarily a work of fiction, the story pulls together, and is quite hard hitting, even though you know what’s about to happen… (Read more of our thoughts, here! )


March 2007

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