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 can’t actually remember getting any work done in the afternoon… It’s a hard life!
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…
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…
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…