Daily Life, Work, Writer's Blog

The IT Manager

I am the girl who you hope not to see,

Life can be dull when you work in IT,

If I’m at your door, there’s surely been strife,

Something’s not working, you can bet on your life.

Girl Working on a Computer

If I’m hovering nearby, then a system has crashed,

A workstation’s broken, your hopes will be dashed,

All thoughts of a good day, where your work gets ahead,

Will fly from the window, your desk you may dread.

***

If I am there now and the technician’s been by,

And still nothing’s working, my face may belie,

May give you a hint of the depth of the bad,

When I return with a smile, then you’re sure to be glad.

Girl Working on a Computer

For if all is well, all is good behind the scenes,

The servers are serving, most definitely means,

You have nothing to fear, your work will surely get done,

If I’ve walked away you can be sure problems are none.

***

For I am the girl, in her office resides,

Answering issues, and keeping an eye,

Certain that errors we can mostly contain,

If my presence is needed, of your life I’m a bane.

Girl Working on a Computer

For most everyday, the technician’s you’ll see,

Out and about fixing issues, you’ll not see me,

But don’t think I’m not working as I’m holding the reins,

Hoping to prevent you from suffering IT pains.

***

 

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Daily Life, Work, Writer's Blog

Spinning

The last three days have been an almighty mess. I have been unable to go into work, which some may see as a bonus, instead opting to work from home, helping my technicians remotely, as much as I am able.

Monday was an ok day, an average working day. Nothing major to report except one of my technicians had clearly succumbed to the germs being spread by the other the previous week and was fighting a dreadful cold.

Tuesday morning began as most Tuesday mornings in winter, with me struggling to haul myself up and out from under the duvet, having been rudely awoken from a precious slumber by Greg James of Radio 1’s Breakfast Show. I stumbled with eyes semi-closed to the kitchen, popped the kettle on and headed to the bathroom. Dressed and ready to leave ten minutes later, I bent to pull on my boots and fell into the wall. Telling myself I am a daft bat, I sat down to continue with my outerwear application. Keeling to the side, I realised something was amiss, and dragged myself into the living room, slumped onto the sofa and dropped my spinning head into my hands. The room was turning around me and I started to feel nausea rising.

Clive found me and insisted I message work to let them know I would be working from home. I am glad he did as the dizziness has persisted for a third day snd shows no sign of abatement. I suspected an ear infection, the aching one one side of my head being a give away, but that has now disappeared and I am left unable to move my head one way or another.

Each time I move, the world starts moving faster and I become disoriented. So much so that on Wednesday I stood up, walked around my bed and fell over sideways. I couldn’t prevent it and the only reason I didn’t smack the floor was the wardrobe kindly catching me by the arm, leaving me bruised and quite sore.

I feel as dizzy today, although everything else seems to be in place and working as it should. My eyes ache a little but that’s more to do with staring at my laptop,  connected remotely to my work computer.  It feels a little lame to be stuck here but I have no intention of falling over my desk or up the stairs at work. I have been able to do lots of work from here and am keeping on top of things so it’s not too traumatic.

I am unlikely to go back to work tomorrow, I need this dizziness to subside and I will have to be careful when our granddaughter comes over to visit on Saturday. I don’t want to be dropping the four year old beauty.

I am lucky to have a fabulous husband who has been cooking in the evenings and checking in on me throughout the day.

I am very much looking forward to this spinning dizziness retreating me and taking me back to some semblance of normality. Until then, I will be sitting here, a dizzy blonde, in my living room, working, writing and resting.

 

Poem, Writer's Blog

I just had to share this awesome poem written by Brian Bilston.

I was so moved by this cleverly written poem I just had to share it. Steffan Griffiths, the Headmaster of Norwich School, where I work as an IT Services Manager, included this in his start of term address, which focused on the power of language. As you all know, I love to write poetry – mainly rhyming verse – but this poem has touched me. Please do have a read – both ways – it will blow your mind.

Refugees, by Brian Bilston

They have no need of our help

So do not tell me

These haggard faces could belong to you or me

Should life have dealt a different hand

We need to see them for who they really are

Chancers and scroungers

Layabouts and loungers

With bombs up their sleeves

Cut-throats and thieves

They are not

Welcome here

We should make them

Go back to where they came from

They cannot

Share our food

Share our homes

Share our countries

Instead let us

Build a wall to keep them out

It is not okay to say

These people are just like us

A place should only belong to those who are born there

Do not be so stupid to think that

The world can be looked at another way

 

(Now read from bottom to top)

 

Daily Life, Poem, Work, Writer's Blog

Published!

Imagine my surprise to come home today and find a poem I wrote for my four-month-old granddaughter, in print in a beautiful photobook.

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When Harper was first born, I wrote her a poem which I was so honoured to see displayed in a frame not only in her nursery but in one of her other Nanny’s kitchen last week.

Having spent two whole days with them last weekend, I felt I had enough content to write another one and the finished result was a ten verse, forty line poem, which I was reasonably pleased with.

I posted it on my blog and shared it on Facebook, little knowing that my daughter-in-law to be (let’s call her my daughter-in-law), enjoyed it enough to have it printed along with some relevant photos and made into a book.

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The front page, which I cannot resist sharing with you all, read as follows:

“Dear grandad Clive and nanny Julie. I loved the poem you wrote me that much I asked mummy to put it in a book for me.

Please will you bring this with you when you come visit me and read it to me and Winnie xx”

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I opened it and couldn’t read it straight away as my eyes were filled with tears. Such a thoughtful gift to come home to. Katie (to give my daughter-in-law a name) had chosen pictures to illustrate each verse of the poem which added to the personalisation perfectly.

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The whole situation was made even better when, as an actual ‘step-nanny’ I was immediately made to feel one of the grandparents when Harper arrived. There was no ‘step-nanny and step-grandad’ for anyone not blood related, only three sets of grandparents.

The image above shows my ‘stepson’ Kurt and his fiancee, Katie, with baby Harper. They live just under a two hour drive away and, so far, we have been able to visit them on a monthly basis. When we are not around, and almost every day, Katie sends us photos, videos and text updates, keeping us involved in Harper’s milestones. For example, yesterday brought us a video of Harper sucking happily on her first rusk. Beautiful.

If you want to re-read the poem, you can do so here:

Harper at almost four months

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Thank you, Katie (and, of course, Kurt and Harper). Xxx

Daily Life, Places to write, Writer's Blog

Writing and blog progress almost a year on…

As is traditional at the beginning of a New Year, I have been pondering the progress I have made with my writing and, more so, planning over the past year.

In February 2018, I made the decision to take a refresher course in writing before fully embarking on the planning of whichever direction it took me. I signed up with The Writer’s Bureau and enrolled in their Comprehensive Creative Writing course. I chose to tackle the fiction writing part of the course first, thinking it would be my strongest and, therefore, the easiest, to start with.

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A published author, Sheila Bugler, was assigned to me as my tutor and I have been infinitely grateful for her kind words and constructive comments throughout. At this stage in the course I am feeling quite pleased with myself, verging on a smugness, as my feedback has been filled with comments such as ‘excellent’ and ‘superb’ and the criticism has been over minor points which I have not found difficult to put right. Much of my grounding in grammar has stayed with me in the many years since I left school, leaving me with the energy to concentrate on content. I sailed through the fiction half of the course, even managing to have some stories and an article published.

The non-fiction side of the course started well with assignments dictating the content but when faced with which publications to write articles for I flailed around wildly. ‘Write about what you know’ was the new mantra. I felt that people wouldn’t want to read about my interests, thought they would find them boring and lacking in pzazz. I am pleased to say I was wrong, and articles ranging from my cravings during pregnancy to my addiction to dancing did spark some interest. I even received feedback from my blog posts about my husband’s kite flying.

Blog posts. Now there was a thing I hadn’t given any thought to. I didn’t even have a blog until midway through 2018. My course advised setting up a blog, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, anything through which I could publicize my future work, even if I didn’t plan on self-publishing. I duly trotted off to my faithful friend, the World Wide Web, researched some blogs and started planning my own. I wanted a neutral colour scheme for my site, so I opted for an almost neutral pH of green/blue. I needed a header which was different but stood out as me. Having cleared my spare bedroom of as much clutter as I could, I had purchased a screen to hide the remainder of my junk. The screen was so beautiful I decided it could be my feature image. And so it is!

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In the past few months I have been slowly building my followers and have over 120 blog subscribers, over 1100 twitter followers and my Storytellingdancer facebook page receives lots of likes (when I remember to share my posts). Sharing posts can become a habit and I try to tailor them to the right social media, while trying to build a suitable audience. I follow lots of wannabe authors like myself and it is great to read and share attempts, successes and failures. I started with Pinterest but without having too much to ‘sell’ I have dropped away from the medium, dipping in only now and again when I can be bothered.

In summary, my writing is starting to go from strength to strength, with published articles and short stories accumulating on my desk. My novel, or should I say novels as I have four which I have started, is still very much a work in progress but one day I will settle to it. Maybe when my course is finished and I have more time for it.

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I continue to add some of my unpublished poems and short stories to this blog and the relevant pages and the plan is to actually HAVE a plan for my blog in 2019. Watch this space – might still be empty in a few weeks time and then my gears will kick in with a vengeance. All suggestions and tips greatly received from fellow bloggers. I need to plan my blog time, moving between poems, stories, general daily life, dancing, kite flying (my husband not me) and I don;t want to post more than five or six posts a month for fear of driving my audience away rather than encouraging new readers.

For now, as I am on my lunch hour at work, I will be content with one poem per month, one Ceroc dancing post per month and then a topical post too. Even that looks messy – I definitely need to plan this more methodically!

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Center Parcs, Ceroc, Daily Life, Dancing, Kite flying, Moving house, Writer's Blog

Finding the positives from 2018

I am no different to everybody else. My family have their fair share of ups and downs, sadness and tragedies but nobody wants to hear about all of that nonsense. The glum stuff is for keeping hidden behind closed doors and away from prying eyes. I don’t want to depress my readers, especially this close to Christmas.

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I wanted to share some of the awesome times from the past year. There have been some real highlights and some great times so read on for a bit of a positive vibe.

The end of the staffing struggle

After a period of ups and downs, advertising, searching and interviews, we finally secured two excellent IT Technicians, and not a moment too soon. I had spent the previous months trying hard to manage the IT department as well as do the job of one or two technicians so I was very grateful to secure an amazing team. Life is certainly much calmer at work nowadays.

Settling times

My son, Daniel, secured himself a job at a local private hospital, after a period of insecurity as the cafe he was managing was going through changes and, subsequently, closure. He loves his work and is now much more settled. His issues following his brain surgeries over the past years seem to have settled and the side effects are now bearable, even if they have not subsided. He has rid himself of a troublesome and unreliable flatmate, turning his spare room into a games room – what else?

More settling times

My daughter and her husband were able to finalise the purchase of their first home. A beautiful four-bedroomed detached house on a new development outside of Norwich. They had rented since they first got together and are so pleased to have overcome a far-higher-than-normal number of snagging issues. I don’t think they will buy from Charles Church/Persimmon anytime in the future but they now have a fabulous home. They also secured great new jobs this year so all is well in the Woods world.

New addition

At the start of September, we welcomed the newest addition to our family – a gorgeous granddaughter, called Harper. Her parents are my husband’s oldest son and his lovely fiancee. Harper is now just over three months old and she is an adorable delight. I have genuinely never encountered such a contented baby. This has given us a great excuse to travel a couple of hours down the road to visit them and their little family as often as we can. We have also made new friends, Harper’s maternal grandparents, Pauline and Guy. You can never have too many new friends and we look forward to getting to know them better each time we visit.

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Speaking of new friends

When I mention new friends, it seems wrong not to mention old friends. We have so many friends and acquaintances through our hobby, dancing. We have far too many friends to mention but it’s worth mentioning that we almost lost touch completely with a few of our friends, because we became wrapped up in a couple of quietly-controlling dancing friends who monopolised our weekends and, through the medium of sneaky comments and suggestions, we almost, but not quite, completely lost touch with some very good friends who we had known and become close to, through dancing for years. Luckily, we were given a lifeline when those friends suddenly and unexpectedly became jealous of our visiting alternative dance venues and enjoying any dancing time without them. It’s funny how the penny suddenly drops and you feel freer than you have done for months. We realised we had become too reliant on these two, quite frankly, dull friends. The upshot is that we now have more dancing friends than ever and have rekindled an almost-lost friendship. We are both eternally grateful for all of our dear friends.

Not losing Mum

This time last year, Mum was not looking like she would be able to crawl her way to Christmas but, with some lifestyle changes, plenty of drugs and intervention from doctors, she is still with us all. Mum may not be in the best of health – far from it – but we are lucky to have had her with us for another year.

Workmates 

Turnover of staff has meant a number of new additions to the school over the past months and I am lucky to be blessed with some lovely people in my working life.  I am not generally one for socialising with colleagues but with such a lovely bunch it is difficult not to keep in touch.

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Blogging and writing pages

I have almost completed my Comprehensive Creative Writing course which I am taking with the Writers Bureau and, as part of this course, it was suggested that I set up a blog and start sharing my unpublished works on my site and social media pages. This has been a successful starting year to my writing. I have had a handful of short stories published, a couple of poems and have started to build a portfolio which I am secretly quite impressed with. I have the starting chapters of four novels rattling around in my laptop but have not yet decided which one will take my full attention in 2019. Watch this space for more!

New gnashers

I am not going to go on and on about my new teeth but I am seriously pleased with them. From my baby teeth, I have always had a large gap in the front which I hated from High School when I was bullied about them. I was lucky enough to be introduced to a dentist who, over the past few months, has created me some new teeth with no gap at all. Everything feels nice and secure and they look better than they ever have done. That’s all I am going to say but its a huge positive!

A REAL summer

There was a lot of grumbling, and yes I do realise just how hot it was, but summer 2018 was awesomely warm. a few short weeks after heavy snowfall, we were beset with a glorious heatwave which lasted for most of the summer months. It was such a lovely season, I personally could not have asked for more beautiful summer weather. My husband and I were able to visit the beach and parks which gave him plenty of time to fly his kites (you can read all about this in some of my other posts) and me to do some writing.

Nieces and nephew

We are lucky enough to have three nieces and a nephew on my brother’s side. Somewhat ideally, they are aged 11, 9, 7 and 5 and they are a fabulous bunch. As with all of our family, we don’t see enough of them but have been  blessed to spend more time with them this year than ever before. We plan to do more next year so they will soon be bored with us!

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Winter Wonderland

We decided to pay for a holiday to Center Parcs, just a few miles down the road from us in Elveden, while the Winter Wonderland was in full swing. The whole resort is lit up for Christmas with sparkling white lights adorning the woodland pathways, and numerous seasonal events taking place around the site. Its truly beautiful and we made this a Christmas present for those who came with us. We hired a huge four-bedroomed lodge, each bedroom with its own en-suite. The lodge had a games room and a sauna as well as the usual kitchen, dining and living areas and was such a luxury to be there before Christmas. We loved it so much that we have booked again for next year with the addition of the new granddaughter and her mummy and daddy, too, who have never been there.

2018 has been such a positive year all round that the positives have far outweighed the negatives. Here’s to a happy and healthy 2019 for all of my readers.

 

 

 

Daily Life, Work, Writer's Blog

The pain that is a migraine

For anyone who has ever been asked, “but isn’t a migraine just a bad headache?” while questioning you clutching your head in agony, you have my every sympathy. For anybody who has never suffered with a migraine I am here to tell you it is so much more than a bad headache.

Up to a third of sufferers are able to predict the onset of a migraine, during a stage called the prodrome stage. The symptoms can begin with muscle weakness, irrational irritability, food cravings, depression and even an aura which can cause flashing lights and temporary blind spots in one or both eyes. At this stage, some medications can help  in the prevention of the onset or, at the least, reduce the pain of the migraine when it arrives.

While I am not denying that headaches can be debilitating, painful and disruptive, a migraine is a different pain altogether. The migraine attack brings a virtually indescribable, severe pain, on one or both sides of the head, accompanied by other symptoms which can include, nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light , sound and smell as well as disturbances in vision.  The disabling pain can last for hours or, in the worst cases, up to four or five days, and I can personally only liken it to giving birth through the side of the head.

Often, along with medication, the only way to relieve a migraine is to rest, most sufferers reporting the need for a darkened room, and sleep. Sleep, however, can be difficult to achieve due to the extreme pain, but some medications bring welcome relief with the side effect of drowsiness.

When a migraine begins to subside, the sufferer can feel listless, moody, dizzy and weak and a state of confusion reigns, along with a bruised feeling on the side of the head which has experienced the worst of the pain. This is partly due to the swelling of the blood vessels during a migraine and their subsequent subsidence.

There are a number of factors which are triggers for migraine sufferers but the most commonly reported culprits are certain foods (including, but not exclusive to, processed foods and aged cheeses), food additives (including sweeteners such as aspartame), stress, lack of sleep, alcohol, sensory changes to light, noise and smell, and hormonal changes.

My own experience of migraine is a weekly, or sometimes more frequent , attack and I am working through possible triggers and sensitivities, although two highly likely factors at are stress at work and lack of sleep with my usual sleep routine being two hours asleep and one hour awake during the night of late. Not only do I wake up thinking about work and trying to formulate solutions to ongoing issues, but I also suffer from age-related hot flushes which leave me burning up inside and using a fan in an attempt to lower the temperature, while trying not to cool my husband. I am lucky if I am asleep more than four hours a night which means, as well as being cranky during the day, the lack of sleep is high on the list of possible triggers for my migraines.

Although it is often suggested, I am not keen on HRT, having been highly sensitive to Estrogen in my younger years, so I have headed for A. Vogel’s Menoforce Sage tablets for the self-heating warmer nights, and A. Vogel’s Stress Relief Daytime Valerian-Hops oral drops. Hopefully, managing these difficult triggers will result in fewer migraines, fewer headaches and normal service will resume. I might even get back to regular dancing soon, and for those who know me well, you know how much I miss that!