Work is being poo today. The typing pile was enormous this morning but because everyone was so enthusiastic about helping there's now not much left. Luckily enough I have my PDR this afternoon but I'm so not in the mood for that. I was meant to make a list of things to bring up in my 1:1, but I can't be bothered...
What amuses me is it took three typists two days not to clear the backlog, and there wasn't even THAT much in there... Do they not have enough work in their OWN teams to keep themselves busy? At least nobody stole my frelling stationery this time. I have come back off leave before now to find ALL of my pens, pencils and post-its gone. I forgot to lock it in my drawer this time but most of it still seems to be there; in fact I have gained a sellotape dispenser.
To make things worse, our fast printer is broken, possibly due to the new paper we're using, which is recycled and much thinner / lighter than the old stuff. It was jamming and now won't work at all. The other printer is slow, has only two trays (there was letter headed paper in the second tray but personally I think that's an accident waiting to happen...), and so whenever I print letters I have to put the exact amount of paper in that I need. And usually have to wait until someone has finished printing off the entire encyclopaedia, or so it seems...
Also I'm getting a bit irritated by people thinking my name is Rachel. This is a curious phenomenon that has happened since I was a small child. Apparently 'Rebecca' is too hard to remember and 'Rachel' is the nearest thing. I might as well change my name and be done with it. The really stupid thing is, they KNOW what my name is... one of the trainees is emailing me something and I heard her doing the sound-out method for my name so clearly she doesn't think I'm actually called Rachel. Maybe it's easier to say. Mostly I manage to just block it out because it's happened for so long. Does this kind of thing happen to anyone else? I wonder what 'Rachel' ends up as for people who find THAT too difficult to remember?
Also, my legs ache. Luckily I'm not too tired due to an early night last night, but I don't know how good my swimming is going to be tonight. I have a drenload of washing up to do when I get in. Meh.
Anyway. Better things.
Monday (16th April) was mine and Paul's two-year anniversary. Scary, isn't it?
We started off by going to Bacchus, which was not only open but serving food! It's a miracle! We had a very nice sharing platter consisting of scampi, pork & leek sausages, barbecue chicken wings, mini baked potatoes, some very nice goat's cheese and a large hunk of bread. It was surprisingly filling.
After that we wandered down to the Brasshouse (where we ended up going last year due to Bacchus stupidity) and discovered it had exactly the same menu. Bah to the fact that both are now chain pubs, given that Brasshouse used to do a very nice Sunday carvery... not sure if it's just the bar menu which is the same, though. Nothing independent in Birmingham lasts very long when it's surrounded by chain pubs. Tanoshi (the Thai restaurant / bar on Hagley Road) has already disappeared, and I wanted to eat there.
Anyway, after a drink in the Brasshouse we decided to go to the Tap and Spile, but it didn't have any tables outside so instead we ended up at the James Brindley, which was surprisingly reasonable... again, because it's now a chain pub. We played four games of pool in there and ended up in a photograph that a man was taking of the outside of the building...
We rang my mum at that point to ask if she and David wanted to join us for a drink because we couldn't think of anywhere else nice to go in Birmingham. So we agreed to meet them at 7.30 in the Dog and wandered to the Malthouse to kill half an hour before getting the bus.
Unfortunately, due to not having as much food as it felt like (aforesaid lunch being very filling) and Paul having beer followed by wine followed by beer, he was being quite drunken and silly by the time we got to the Dog, and his second pint in there just about finished him off... so I was a little bit annoyed with him about that. He did whinge a little about it and demanded I buy him food and cigarettes about six times on the journey home on the 11. So in the end we ordered a pizza.
We ended the night watching Labyrinth. And why not.
I booked Tuesday off in case we did anything particularly exciting / exhausting on Monday so I'd have a day to recover, but we used it wisely nonetheless. Got up early (like, going-to-work early) to get the 9.15 train to Warwick in order to get to the castle for the opening hour of 10.00.
We ended up having breakfast in Subway as that's the only place which was open. We were going to have their breakfast bagel things but they didn't have any eggs (...?) so ended up having meatball marinara subs instead. The girl behind the counter seemed to be braindead so it's a miracle we even got those. Also there was no paper in their toilet.
Anyway, we found the castle all right and went for a bit of a wander to see what they were doing by way of entertainment. We decided to do all three things at 11.00, 12.00 and 12.30 so we'd have the rest of the day to wander the castle. Although we did have to go back out to the souvenir shop and in again to get a disposable camera. I would have taken my digital one but it would most likely have lasted about two photos before a) the batteries died or b) it fell apart. I WANT SOME MONEY NOW.
Aaaanyway, we went around the rose garden (no roses yet) and the peacock garden, where a very proud peacock was showing us his tailfeathers. They really are beautiful birds. He was showing off so much he lost some tailfeathers so of course I had to steal one... and then carry it around with me all day. I'm surprised it got home intact. I still have the one I got back in about 199-something when I went with my mum.
I was quite disappointed to discover that due to teacher training days there were still a fair amount of Bloody Kids around, but I imagine it's nowhere near as bad as it would have been at Easter. Also quite a few of them were American tourists. Yeah, the Queen lives here, honest. ;)
At 11.00 we watched two men showing off with longbows and crossbows, which was entertaining. The younger of the two was a lot better than the one giving information, though the latter was incredibly excited by his brand new crossbow...
We wandered a bit more around the new mill and engine room exhibition, and then settled down on a hill to watch them set off the gigantic trebuchet across the river, launching a 15kg rock about a mile down the field. It's an amazing piece of medieval machinery and the photo, when I get it developed, probably won't do it justice. "Four men can lift 6.5 tonnes", indeed. :D
Then we rushed around the corner to see the "Winged Warriors" birds-of-prey display. It's not every day you get to see an American Bald Eagle or a vulture... Hopefully those photos will also come out as we tried to get some of the birds in flight.
Entertainment being done with, we wandered around the actual castle. Much of it is exactly as we both remembered, except these days they're really trying to make it educational. There were two newly-opened attractions, "Dream of Battle" (a bit pointless) and "Kingmaker", which included a replica/recreation of a medieval toilet, complete with authentic smell. We're not sure if that was false or just because it's so ingrained into the bricks after 100s of years...
There was also a limited-time-only attraction called "Warwick Ghosts Alive", which cost an extra £2.75 and was more than worth the money. Although I rather feel the staff have seen too much Most Haunted. Lots of people in black jumping out and scaring people, as well as breathing down necks and making strangled noises in ears. As Paul and I were at the back we were pretty much fair game for being spooked. A small boy with his mother decreed "We're never coming to Warwick Castle again!", so possibly it should have had an age limit on it. No amount of "It's not real!" from an exasperated parent is going to work, really.
The funniest bit was when the aforesaid mother in front of us had one of the 'ghosts' making her jump, to which her response was "Oh, for God's sake!", partially directed at herself for falling for it. So, yes. Highly entertaining.
And, of course, we climed up the towers and along the battlements. The steps in Guy's Tower have totally killed my legs today, and Paul refused to go near the edge, although his vertigo kicked in much harder on top of a lower tower when he realised there were grilles in the floor near the edge. Some pretty amazing views, though. I am also quite scared of heights, more so when there's a wind kicking up, so I was only able to stand near the edge long enough to get a picture, and that was by leaning close to the wall and taking it through the gap.
We also went into the dungeon. Everyone remembers the dungeon and the oubliette, although I think they've made the steps safer than they used to be... The best bits of history are the horrible, gory bits, after all. :)
Alsoalso, we did the bits inside from when the Earl of Warwick and his family lived there in the 1900s, with rooms full of waxworks and beautiful furniture. I want huge rooms that I can decorate in Georgian style; they're frelling beautiful. We were, at one point, walking behind a woman who must have worked as a tour guide and was telling her friends various interesting bits of history... Paul found her annoying but I thought her stories were good. We ended up overtaking her in the end, anyway.
Oh, and the girl looking after the "Dream of Battle" 'dream video' section ended up chatting to us before the new loop started. She said she was from Sandwell and that we were in one of the most haunted bits of the castle, and that earlier that week a door was bolted which hadn't been touched in years, as she was locking up and the only one around. She couldn't get out and her manager had to come around from the outside to open the door. Wooooo...
Heh, I want to put Yvette Fielding inside the spiral staircase of Guy's Tower in the middle of the night. It'd be funny. :)
The afternoon ended with a drink at a nearby pub and a walk to the station to discover that we'd missed the just-before-5.00 train and the next one wasn't until just-before-6.00, so we had another drink in another pub and finally got home, via the chippy, at about 7.15. Needless to say, I missed choir, but I was exhausted anyway.
Paul demanded we watch a film with Will Ferrell in and then fell asleep 15 minutes into it. I woke him up for the programme on intelligence on BBC2, but he went to bed instead. Lightweight. :P
I went to bed after the intelligence programme and hence had an early night. So at least I'm not too tired today. Makes a change.
My PDR was okay, as was my 1:1. We ended up chatting as usual, and I was explaining how shambolic it was at LAO and how much work I had to do... I even brought up Sandra, though naming no names and not saying much about what she did... mostly I just said how she'd drop work in my lap and those last four weeks when she made it obvious what she thought of me. Marie said "You're so quiet, I can't imagine anyone pissing you off." Heh, it's the quiet ones you need to be careful of; they're the ones who will plot your bloody demise without you knowing about it. ;) She also couldn't believe the chaos and anarchy and blame culture that went on there, but I doubt any sane person would believe it until they saw it...
I brought up the not-taking-the-last-piece-of-work-from-t
I also brought up possibly having more leave than I usually would this summer, and the possibility of sitting by a window when this year's potential heatwave kicks in. I will mostly be taking lots of flex (hoping to have at least two days every fortnight off, either two at once or maybe one a week) if I have it, or using occasional annual leave days up. I don't want to end up with no leave for Christmas / end of March, so I'll have to keep an eye on it. Also one of the other WPOs is on leave for three weeks in July / August so I might be able to hot-desk for a while and sit in her window seat; I will also approach our Principal Solicitor, Dave, about possibly moving desks for the duration... I don't want a repeat of last year. I figure a few occasional days off are better than three weeks off sick.
I've booked a week off in May after the bank holiday (one day as flex), which is in a couple of weeks. It looks like Noor might be off even longer, so just as well, really. I would normally take the three days after the end-of-May bank holiday instead, but Noor has already booked that, so I'll have the early one instead. If I'm going to be on my own for another couple of weeks I want some bloody time off to recover...
The place my mum is currently temping sounds bloody brilliant. She's working in occupational health for the uni at the moment and they get five weeks annual leave each year, two weeks paid leave on top of that for Christmas, and were off Friday - Wednesday at Easter. CUSHY! Her contract has also been extended for the time being, so that's good. I'm glad she left her horrible old job, despite the inevitable money worries, as we all know that working in an unhealthy, back-bitingy environment is not good for you.
For a while now, I've been semi-considering if I could return to LAO on a half-time basis, whilst doing my other half here in Legal. The half at LAO would obviously have been the days when Sandra wasn't there, i.e. Wednesday PM to Friday. But the more I think about it, and the more I remember about it, for all the reasons I wanted to go back, there are twice as many why I can't.
Even though this job can be boring, at least the surroundings and people are better. We have managers who get things done, people who know what 'thank you' sounds like, and the support team are actually appreciated. The team I work in is full of lovely people (some are demanding, but they don't look down their nose at you) and I would never, ever go back to working in a place where Sandra has left her aura. Besides, there's always a chance I would run into her.
From an email received from Amanda recently (inviting me to Liz H's hen night) it looks like either Amanda has moved (in keeping with her acting up into the Senior Admin Assistant role) or Sandra has, since Sandra was included in the email along with some social workers. If that is the case, I will be mightily annoyed... although, I don't know if I could even have held out another few months there on the hope that she might be moved or get another job. It was either her or me, in the end...
I suppose I should end this entry now.