Tacos, Tortillas and Tequila…

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Just had another departmental night out on the town. It’s a hard life getting chauffeur driven to parties, all paid for by your employer, but somebody has to do it.

We’d all met up for pre-meal cocktails at a nearby bar before inflicting the unsuspecting Mexican restaurant with our raucous laughter at snapchat while wearing sombreros. Enid Blyton would’ve had a field day writing Six Go Mad in Mexico, although it clearly wouldn’t have been a very suitable read for children.

It was a vegetarian delight to see so many different options on the menu, so it would’ve been rude not to try as many of them as was humanly possible (thank heavens for elasticated waistbands). The tortilla chips and salsas were a welcome appetiser while the cheese quesadillas with chilli cheese fries certainly soaked up the tequila margaritas (and beers!) There was only one dessert I was interested in and that was the tequila sorbet – oh my poor liver.

Death and Taxes…

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Benjamin Franklin famously once said “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes“, and in recent weeks I’ve experienced both. After chasing Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs for well over a year I finally got my tax rebate – hurrah. It was a relatively small sum of money, but it was the principle that mattered most to me. It was MY money and therefore I didn’t see why anyone else should have it. On a sadder note, I experienced the passing of a very dear friend who I’d known for the past twenty years.

While I realise that anyone reaching their eighties is judged to have had ‘a good innings’, especially if they’d suffered bouts of ill health during their twilight years, it’s still upsetting when the inevitable happens. At times like these it makes you more aware of your own mortality and the preciousness of living. It also makes you realise that you only get one life and you mustn’t waste a single moment of it. Ted taught me many lessons, but the one which I will cherish the most is nicely summed up by British author and poet C. S. Lewis; ” You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream“…

Rest In Peace.

 

Graduation Day…

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Back in 2008 I missed my own graduation due to the fact I was still recovering from major surgery, so when the opportunity arose to attend the ceremony for the department where I currently work, I jumped at the chance.

On the day itself, campus resembled Hogwarts as hundreds of little ‘Harrys and Hermiones’ gathered in the squares wearing black robes and mortar boards. The air of excitement was tangible as the Professional Services team made our way to the venue to watch the latest batch of students to go from undergraduates to graduates with a firm handshake from the Chancellor; The Right Honourable Baroness Shami Chakrabarti CBE; in front of proud friends and family members in the audience.

After the new graduates were led out of the lecture theatre by a procession of fully-gowned academics, we sprinted up the hill so that we could welcome them all into the lakeside marquee for the less formal celebrations with bubbly and canapés. Maybe it was all the excitement, or quite possibly the booze, but I’ve now made the decision that for 2018 I’ll mark the ten year anniversary since I became a BA (Hons) by gowning up as Alumni. A year from now there will be a very, VERY excitable, middle-aged peroxide blonde running around campus, beaming from ear to ear and yelling “I’m a wizard!” …

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Liquid Lunch…

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The University where I work was recently awarded a Gold award for teaching the same day as a Gold rating in learning, so along with various other celebrations on campus there was an invite extended to all staff and students to attend a thank-you event in a woodland marquee. Obviously, never one to turn down a freebie, I booked my Golden ticket and spent my Monday lunch-break rubbing shoulders with the Vice Chancellor and various other senior management and department heads, as you do!

With the sun beating down and several hundred people crammed inside, it quickly turned into a sauna, so knocking back liquid was the only way to keep hydrated. Partaking of Prosecco in a posh tent certainly beats scoffing a couple of cheese spread sarnies with a coffee at my desk, although booze at lunchtime probably wasn’t the best way to ensure that anything remotely productive happened in my office after 2pm. Hmm.. I can see a theme emerging…

Strawberries and Wine…

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I’ve just attended my first annual staff picnic and in spite of concerns regarding the weather we were able to spend our lunchtime sitting on tartan blankets, surrounded by picnickers from all the other departments, munching on big, fat, juicy strawberries under blue skies beside the 18th century 4 star hotel on site. Even better, there was a chilled bottle of white wine involved.

Despite a rather persistent wasp, it was so nice to be out of the office and into the sunshine doing something so quintessentially British, although cramming fresh fruit down my neck like it’s going out of fashion during my dinner break might not have been such a good idea.  It’s also quite hard to focus on work in the afternoon when you feel ever so slightly tipsy. Thank heavens for strong coffee…

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Birthday Girl…

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Birthdays are never something I particularly relish, especially now I’m fully aware I have far more behind me than ahead of me, however, when your grown up babies visit with fabulously thoughtful gifts and a beautiful card that IS cause for a celebration.

Along with the posh dark chocolates (my favourites) and proper Steampunk sunglasses (with a leather case, drawstring pouch and cleaning cloth), I had a lovely long chat with them, as always. We passed several hours within the blink of an eye while munching on chocolate coated malted milk biscuits and jammie dodgers along with the customary cups of tea, with Mr Kipling French fancies as a special treat.

Despite me waving a tearful farewell to 54 and resentfully accepting 55 my twin daughters always have the knack of knowing exactly how to put a great big smile back on my face. I’m so proud of my girls, who have grown up to be beautiful, talented, kind and generous young ladies – I love them to the moon and back…

Cocktail Crazy…

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When my Departmental Manager announced she was leaving I actually felt quite sad; she was the person who gave me this job and therefore completely changed my life. However, all good things must come to an end, but we didn’t want her to disappear into the sunset without having a decent send off, so an up-market restaurant was booked, taxis arranged and off we all went for some posh nosh and cocktails, all paid for by the Department.

I have to admit, being chauffeur driven into town to be wined and dined with all of my workmates is something I could get quite used to given half a chance, although maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to schedule it for a weekday evening. Within the first few minutes round one of kicked off with cosmopolitans, white Russians and martinis, while numerous other alcoholic joys were being shaken, and stirred, by our amiable bartender. After three solid hours of knocking back gin and prosesso I, for one, was in no fit state to rock up to the office 9am the next morning, so humble apologies were shakily emailed and I spent the entire day with the hangover from hell.

Despite the rather unfortunate after-effects, it was an exceedingly good night (from what I can remember), with tons of merriment and girlie chatter, and we’d certainly given our DM a night she won’t forget in a hurry. Cheers!