Tag Archives: #modernlife

A clean page

There’s quite a few things that I love about this time of year: the cosy feel in the house, with candles burning, tree lights twinkling, etc; the need to wear lots of layers to keep warm – far preferable to summertime when I have to wear shorter clothes; slippers (I used to be a bare-feet-all-year-round kind of girl but this year I am rarely parted from my furry friends but not with the addition of socks – a step too far); presents – I love getting the kids lists and seeing what they have put on there – planning and buying and wrapping.

One thing I REALLY love is the prospect of A New Diary. I love it when the current diary is getting towards the end. I particularly love it if the current diary doesn’t extend past December 31st as this means I have an excuse for starting next year’s diary even earlier, whereas if it has an extra page taking us into January then I feel obliged to use it.

I LOVE writing in the new diary – all the birthdays, events that we’ve already got planned, regular appointments/clubs/meetings etc. I always write really carefully (to start with) and sometimes (well, OK I did this once but couldn’t maintain it throughout the year so haven’t done it since) colour coding – birthdays in one colour, school stuff in another. Again, a step too far.

The prospect of a new diary makes me feel like we’re starting again.

I’m not a huge fan of New Years Eve (see Another year) and over the last few years have avoided making any resolutions as they have normally always failed. But, I do like the feeling of a new start in the new year, blowing away cobwebs from the previous year and trying to look at things with a fresh pair of eyes. I love New Years Day as we normally try and go out for a long walk somewhere, which literally blows the cobwebs away.

This year we have the horror joy of the extension to get through look forward to and so there is plenty to think about and make decisions on (and hope that we can afford to do). We have some other stuff planned too: a weekend in Center Parcs with G&G; nights out; a weekend away for K & I; and I have just fixed some dates with Miss T which are ready to go in the new diary.

A new diary. It can’t be rushed into. There are certain requirements: not too big, but big enough for space for more than one thing per day. We don’t really need one of those ones with a column per person as we’re not that busy (just how I like it) but there is the odd occasion where there is more than one thing each day, as much as I try and avoid it. Big enough for my writing which starts off quite neat but by February is just a scrawl. Small enough to fit on the side in the kitchen without anyone moaning about it being in the way. I don’t like calendars on the wall – you have to take them down to write in them and ANYONE visiting can see what you have planned for the entire month. I like to keep my lack of a social life to myself, thank you very much. Yes, a small but not too small, big enough but not too big, week-per-view diary, which lies flat when open. And preferably a nice colour.

Tomorrow, I have a few last minute things to get (not really last minute but I am NOT going to the shops after this weekend other than to pick up the turkey) so, tomorrow, I will start (and hopefully complete) the quest for the new diary.

I might even get a new pen to go with it.

diary

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Nieces

On Saturday the Beddoe Four went up to Derbyshire to see the Other Beddoes (K’s brother and his family) for the day. We used to spend a lot of time together. K’s brother, M, and his wife, C, have three girls who are all a bit older than our two. Their youngest A is 17 so a couple of years older than T. They’ve always got along brilliantly and we’ve had some fantastic days together.

As with everything, time moves on, kids get older and get boyfriends/girlfriends/jobs – life is busy and we haven’t been able to see them so often of late.

It was lovely to spend the day with M,C and A. A was on a break from rehearsals with the drama academy that she’s studying at in Birmingham so we went to a local National Trust property and wandered around their Christmas market with a spot of lunch and a bit of a walk. A, my A and I were wrapped up warm in our bobble hats, prompting a selfie of the Bobble Hat Beddoes! You can see that the two girls are related – just look at their smiles! (My stupid grin belies the fact that I was suffering with a rotten head cold.)

The other two nieces were busy with their respective lives. Our eldest niece, Ch, lives in Staffordshire with her fiancée and we didn’t expect to see them. As you do at 22, they have busy lives and work hard all week to have fun at the weekends. I just about remember what that was like!

Almost two years ago we were given the news that our middle niece, E, was pregnant. She was 17 at the time and, to be completely honest, when I heard the news I cried. A lot. Babies don’t mean the end of your life and there are plenty of teenage girls who manage just fine as mums. It just wasn’t what I’d ever wanted for E or any of my gorgeous nieces. I didn’t want her to have to deal with prejudice, struggle with how to finish college (she’d not long started a course after getting through school) and generally cope with having a baby at such a young age. I was immensely proud of her determination to go ahead with the pregnancy, not seeing termination as any option at all. She has great parents, grandparents and aunts and uncles and her two sisters. Her boyfriends parents were being supportive and we were all hoping for the best.

We saw E and her fiancee on Saturday with their now just over 12 months old little boy. When we got home and I sat and thought about his smiling, happy face (even though he had a horrible cold, he was as happy as could be) and saw how patient, caring, loving and just downright amazing E was with him, I cried a bit more. I had no right to be worried or feel upset for this turn her life has taken. She is an amazing mummy and her little boy just shines with the love she has for him.

Not only is she doing an incredible job as a Mum, she is making a home with her fiancée, as well as working part time – no benefits, just hard work. She had been working in a fast food outlet whilst at college and through her pregnancy but since having J she’s had to find something to fit in with family life (she finished her college course) and is now working as a carer. She talked about some of the people she looks after and how they don’t have family members to do anything for them. How she will be out at the shops and will buy some fluffy bedsocks for one poor old lady who always has cold feet. E doesn’t have spare money but she bought this lady bedsocks, because she felt sad for her not having a son or daughter to buy them for her.

What amazing girls our nieces are – they’re all grown up and forging their ways in life. We may not have as many Beddoe Days any more but I am very proud to be their Auntie. It was a good day.

Patient/ce

A has got a bad cough and cold. When she was really little she suffered from coughs A LOT. She wasn’t unwell apart from the cough, but it would keep her (and consequently us) awake all night and leave her feeling really poorly. Luckily, as she got a bit older the frequency went from every few months to a couple of times a year to almost never. My kids are rarely unwell (amazing really, as I was told so often by various ‘helpful’ people that I was harming their immune systems by bottle feeding them) so when they are it is a bit of a strange time.

I’m not a great nurse. I used to dread when they were small and there was talk in the playground of this bug or that doing the rounds. I used to brace myself. I’m not unsympathetic – I can do good hugs and wiping of brows. I can provide hot drinks and hot water bottles and chicken soup. I can do this for a day or two. It was worse when they were really small as I had that logistical nightmare of ‘the school run with a poorly child’ where the non-poorly one didn’t want to go with a neighbour and the poorly one didn’t want to be left in the car for a few seconds while the non-poorly one was whizzed into the playground. And they always seemed to be ill when something was planned. A bit like snowfall, an ill child is always, well, ill-timed. My 40th birthday is a case in point. Unusually, it was during school time – all 39 previous birthdays had always fallen during half term, but someone decided her Diamond Jubilee was more important than my birthday and half term got moved to a week later in the year of my 40th – so both kids were due to be in school. A developed one of her bad coughs the day before, so my planned indulgent day with K went a bit awry. Thanks to kind and helpful G&G we still managed breakfast out and she was well enough for a meal out in the evening, but it’s still one of those occasions that will be marked with a “Poor A was poorly that day” memory. Like when we had snow the day we’d planned to go to Ikea to get a new wardrobe and we had to wait another month to get chance to go again. I don’t hold grudges against poorly children but I really detest the white cold stuff.

I think as both the kids and I have got older I have, maybe, become a bit more patient. Whether the ‘big break’ last year has any bearing on this, I don’t know, but I think it did teach me that you can’t plan for illnesses/accidents and that you have to take each day at a time.

A is a great patient. She’s not very demanding. She’s happy to lay in bed and read and watch YouTube or, as she said yesterday, “just lay in bed and watch CBeebies because when you’re ill you feel little again”. She did have a mini-meltdown yesterday evening thinking she would never feel well ever again and her sides hurt from coughing and she was just so tired from not sleeping. Last night she slept so well that when I had my usual 4am awake time, I lay worrying, convinced that she had taken too many paracetamol.

What I worry about a lot when the kids are poorly is that K will catch it. I don’t really mind if I get it, I’m a bit of a soldier really and like to pride myself on not wallowing in it. But unlike the kids, he is NOT a good patient. He will be well enough to go to work – of course! – but the minute he gets home he will take himself off to bed and wallow. Am I being harsh? Probably a bit, but he does epitomise the cliche of the man with ‘man-flu’. He was brought up to take Lemsips and Hot Toddies when he was ill and it’s a hard habit to break. I am of the school of thought that you should take a couple of paracetamol and stays at home in the warm and ride it out. And don’t get me started on people that say they have flu when they have a head cold. If you’re not laying in bed sweating and shivering with achy limbs and a high fever that lasts for days/a week then you have a head cold.  A head cold is not flu. Consequently, K is ‘encouraged’ to get his annual flu jab as early as possible. At least that’s one thing ruled out.

A is feeling a bit better today. I can tell this because she is starting to be irritating and her eyes are starting to get their sparkle back. My dad always used to say to my brother and I that he could tell we were feeling better after a bout of being poorly when we started arguing or winding each other up. Arguing over the remote control? “Oh, I can see you’re feeling better.” My kids are no different. And this is when my patience will start to waver.

She’s just asked when am I getting her lunch, and do I have any cake in the cupboard? I reckon she could be headed back to school tomorrow……

thermometer

 

 

Winter Mode

Nearly two weeks since my last blog post (that sounds dangerously like a confession) so my plan to write about happy things has not really worked out. That’s not to say that I have been unhappy for the last fortnight; I have certainly not been unhappy, but I have probably been too busy to notice the happy things enough to blog about them. Things I do remember being happy include: Book Club night (that’s always a happy time); getting my hair colour done*; I’ve had two days off with all the family off together.

It’s been a busy time and I have been feeling the effects.  T started his mock GCSE exams last Monday and they finish tomorrow. He hasn’t been too stressed, as I’ve said before, he doesn’t really do stressed. I have been a bit tetchy, wondering if I am doing enough as a parent to support him through this time: I have made sure he has food to eat and an ear to talk to if he needs it and have encouraged (I suspect nagged, but I have been trying not to as that’s a sure fire way of ensuring he doesn’t do anything) him to revise at every opportunity. I’ve also made sure he has down time to chill out and relax. His last exam finishes at 10.30am tomorrow and then he can relax a bit. Until the revision starts ramping up again, with no let up until May next year.

I saw a friend last week and she noticed I was a bit quiet and as we parted she told me to be kind to myself. It was such a lovely thing to say that it made me stop and think. I haven’t been very kind to myself of late. I have been eating badly, not exercising at all and I have felt myself going into hibernation. I don’t like going out in the dark. I don’t like the dark evenings. I try and make things cosy, but then I don’t want to DO anything.

Despite her words, I am still not eating brilliantly (I have had a bit more fruit but my stomach always goes into mutiny mode when I get back on the fruit and starts to bother me – not a great incentive to eat well) and I haven’t exercised. But I have booked a last minute spa day with my lovely Mrs F and we go tomorrow. I can’t wait. It’s an excuse to switch off from the world, no phone, handing over the reins of being the “emergency contact” to K for the day and just laying around reading, chatting and eating (relatively healthy) food. There is a downside to this day of indulgence – I need to get my body out of ‘winter mode’. I have to rid my legs of the layer of fuzz that I like to cultivate over winter, I need to paint my toenails and, the biggest horror of all, I have to bear my skin to the world (well, the other layabouts at Champneys) in a swimming costume. This does not feel like being kind to myself but I know that after a day with Mrs F doing nothing (other people like to do exercise classes, use the gym, swim 50 lengths – not us) I will be feeling tip-top and my fuzz free legs and lovely pretty toes will be the icing on the cake.

With 4 weeks to go until Christmas there is a danger of going into Panic Mode. I have to confess that I do have lists on the go. I managed to go List-less in the summer but I don’t think I would be able to manage the festive period without a few lists. I am keeping them simple and few, but they will stop Panic Mode being invoked. I never used to get overly excited by Christmas. It seemed a lot of fuss for one day and a lot of build up to a day that never lived up to expectations. That’s because my expectations were always too high. I dreamed that no-one would argue, no-one would be unwell, everyone would love every single gift they were given, every toy would work and it would be The Best Christmas Ever. In recent years my expectations have been more realistic and I have been able to relax more and enjoy it for what it is. A time of trying to fit everyone in, of trying not to get swept along with it all and end up spending way too much money on stuff that no-one really needs.

I have a couple of traditions: I like to buy a new board game each year for us to play over the festive period and the kids get new PJ’s on Christmas Eve; I buy a piece of gammon that I cook on Christmas Eve – because Mum always did when we were kids; I have certain decorations that I have to put up and I like to buy a new one each year and mark it with the date. I don’t normally like to put the tree and decorations up too early – a fortnight before The Big Day at the earliest. This year I am feeling ready to get into the spirit of it as soon as possible – but worry that I will be over it by the 10th December, so I am holding off. We have a busy couple of weekends coming up so I won’t have much opportunity anyway – it takes time and can’t be rushed. My favourite meme (not sure that is the right word) to do with Christmas decorating reads “I’m sorry my OCD made decorating the tree together a horrible experience”. This sums up tree decorating in our house. Other people can pass me the decorations and suggest places but I have overall control. And I rearrange it several times over the ensuing days and weeks. It’s not nice, it’s not fun for anyone else, but I can’t help it. Maybe this year I will try. Maybe.

I am quite excited by the start of Advent tomorrow. Not for any religious reason – I just like the countdown. This year I have bought a new advent calendar. We used to have those perpetual ones that have pockets on them to put chocolates in, but my kids are far too grown up for that (apparently). So, I have a lovely new wooden one and I have a new advent candle (another tradition of recent years) and I have bought a big box of chocolates (because although they are too grown up for the advent calendars, of course they still want chocolates) – ones that we all like and coincidentally come with 24 in a box, which I have numbered for each day of Advent (six each!). We will light the candle each evening and whoever’s turn it is can eat their chocolate and move the marker along on the advent calendar. I don’t know if anyone else will find it as lovely as I do but that’s fine by me.

advent

 

* I’ve had my ‘winter colour’ done. I haven’t had it done for a couple of years so it has come as bit of a shock. A has said a few times “will it lighten up as you wash it?” which leads me to think she is not too keen and as my chief stylist I am a little concerned (she did say it’s brings out the colour in my eyes – permanently red!) But, I’ve had some kind comments and even my two bosses noticed and muttered that it looks nice so maybe it’s not too bad.

 

 

Family history

What a Friday I’ve had! Fridays are generally always brilliant but this one was super special. I have spent the day with my lovely cousin S. She’s really my second cousin – our dads are cousins; her grandma and my grandad were siblings. She lives down in Surrey and before this summer I’d only seen her a handful of times in the last two decades – at her wedding, at funerals and a couple of family gatherings. It’s one of those situations where because we’ve only ever met up via Family Events we’ve never thought of meeting up alone. This summer she got on a train and came up to St Albans and we spent the day together. Her dad is ten years older than my dad but he spent most of his childhood, up to his teens, living in St Albans so they share a history of more than just being cousins and consequently the city means something to both of us.

The visit in the summer was more about us catching up and getting to know each other a bit better – we are related and we send each other Christmas cards and think the world of each other but we needed to spend some time reconnecting. And it was lovely and I felt like we’d seen each other only a week before. She’s funny and kind and caring and lovely. We’ve got lots in common and we laughed a lot – a family trait – her grandad was always laughing and made everyone around him laugh too. He used to tease my dad, even when my dad was well into middle age, that the milkman was his real father!

Today she came up again (I’d offered to head down her way but she insisted that St Albans is far nicer than anywhere near her, so could she please come up again?) and we’ve had a magical family history mystery tour.

We’d both grilled our dads for the lowdown on places of significance and I came up with a plan. I picked her up from the station just before 11am and we headed off. Our first stop (well, drive-by as there was nowhere to stop) was the building that used to be the school where her grandma went as a young girl, in Catherine Street, now the Jubilee Centre. My grandma used to go there in later years for company – a sort of day centre for elderly people. Then we drove on to the school that her dad and my aunt attended, now Garden Fields school but formerly Townsend.

Next stop, and we did stop, was the house in Marshalswick that her Dad lived in as a boy before the family moved to Surrey when he was a teenager. My dad just about remembers them living there but he was only 5 when they moved away so it’s only a very vague memory.

From there we drove to my dads childhood home in Marshall Avenue where he was born. S’s Dad and grandparents lived there with my grandparents and Auntie for a while during WW2 and my dad was born during this time. Her dad remembers the midwife coming to help deliver my dad and thinking that he must be in the big black bag that the midwife had with her! She chucked the bag down on the floor and he was worried that the baby would be hurt. My dad was a tiddler, weighing just over two pounds, which in those days (with no incubators or special care baby units) would have been a big cause for concern, could easily have fit in the bag so he could be forgiven for his mistake!

We got parked up at the Verulamium museum car park and headed off for a coffee at the Inn on the Park. The place was packed with mums and toddlers so not a great choice for a chat but the coffee was hot and we didn’t plan to be there long – we had more places to visit!

Now on foot we headed round St Michael’s to Portland Street where our grandparents lived as children. I’ve never been up there (as far as I know) and S definitely hadn’t so we were quite excited to see the house- until we realised we weren’t quite sure which number it was! A quick call to my mum confirmed we were outside the right house. The houses can’t have changed much since the early 1900’s and our house (as I now think of it!) still had an old boot scraper outside and we gave the handrail a little stroke in the hope it was the original (you never know). We were both amazed at how such a big family had managed to all fit in such a small – two up two down – house. And we complain about not having enough room. Lightweights.

By this time the pub was calling us so we stopped for lunch. As the Verulam Arms (where S’s grandad liked to drink) is now a Forager food pub we opted for a more traditional lunch in The Six Bells, as recommended by my parents. And very nice it was too.

Properly refuelled and after much more chat and laughter we set off again on foot to the Gorhambury Estate where S’s grandad worked as an apprentice gardener when he first come up to St Albans in his late teens. It was during this time that he met my great aunt, S’s grandma, and the rest, as they say, is history.

S and I both feel so strongly that our family history mustn’t be forgotten. Her dad didn’t have siblings and she is an only child. I am lucky to have my brother and our cousin P, and we need to all make sure we keep the family bond going strong. We’ve got shared history passed down from our grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles and we’ll make our own history going forward. A truly special day, with many more to come.

Our grandparents’ home in Portland Street.

Creature of Habit

Me and spontaneity are not regular companions. I’m very much a routine-loving, plan-ahead kind of person. I’m not inflexible, I can go with the flow from time to time and I am not averse to a last minute outing but I prefer to know about plans in advance, timings, etc. I like to know where I stand. It all goes back to the not liking rushing thing. I don’t like being late and I don’t like having to rush to get there on time. Also, I LIKE organising and being organised. It makes me feel in control.

I plan ahead for meals; I listen to the same radio station every day (my short foray into Smooth was just that – very short) or listen to the same albums and playlists over and over again; I wear the same clothes time and time again; I try and do the washing on the same days each week; I do the shopping on the same day each week; I pick up the kids on the same days every week; I go into the office on set days. It’s all very planned and habitual. And probably a bit boring. Some of it I can’t change – it would be pretty inconvenient to change the school pick ups with my car share friend from day to day; it would not be beneficial for people to run out of clean pants because I didn’t do any washing for 2 weeks – but other things I can work on.

As with List-less I think I need to change things up a bit. Stop following the same rules that I have made for myself and maybe make things a bit more interesting. Change my mindset and see what happens.

When I first started working again I took full advantage of the flexibility of my working day – as in, there are no fixed hours of work, just get the 8 hours done each day or make it up later in the week, whatever – and would sometimes take a few hours out in the afternoon to do something with the kids and then carry on with work later in the evening. For the last couple of years, since the kids have needed me less, I have fallen into a habit of starting around 8.30am/9am and finishing around 5.30pm/6pm. I have to take time out every other day for the school pickup and I do allow myself a short break for lunch now and again and the odd coffee with a friend (much rarer than I make it seem – at most once a month) but I am pretty conscientious really and make sure I do the hours expected. But I’ve fallen into a pattern again and I’m finding myself clock-watching when it gets to late afternoon. Maybe I should think about taking a break at that point and come back to it later in the evening. I could go out for a walk or sit and read a book, or get ahead of the game and prep some stuff for dinner.

It does worry me a bit that my lack of spontaneity may affect the kids social lives. I’ve had in my mind that we need to have A’s friend over for tea, or a sleepover, or probably both, for a few weeks now*. I’ve mentioned before that A gets asked to go to things with them A LOT and we are not good at reciprocating. They are a very spontaneous family and often ask her to things at the last minute, which she loves. I always feel like I’m a bit of a let-down in comparison. The truth is, we’re just not that exciting. We don’t just nip off to fun places or pop out for dinner randomly on a Friday night (or if we do it’s a very rare event). T is often invited to go to friends houses for dinner or to ‘hang out’ for the evening or to stay over. It never occurs to me to see if he wants people to come here. I am more than happy for them to have friends round but I never seem to make the suggestion. It wasn’t something we did as kids – I remember going to tea with friends, but not frequently and, because we lived further away from school and mum didn’t drive, it wasn’t easy to arrange for friends to come to ours. Maybe it’s a habit thing. Maybe, as well as dropping some habits, I need to make some new ones. (When we have the extension built it will be easier for them to have friends round, whereas at the moment they would have to be sat up in their bedrooms  – not great for A as her room is tiny – or K and I  would be forced out of the lounge into the kitchen. A lot is riding on this extension!)

I think part of my resistance to spontaneity is the not being in control part. I am a self-confessed control freak and although I have been trying hard to loosen my grip on certain things (cooking, decision making) it’s a long-ingrained habit to break. I worry what will happen if I’m not in control, if I step away from the helm and wait for someone else to take over. Will they? The candidates are not strong or many and I am not filled with confidence. Conversely, I do get a bit fed up of no-one else suggesting outings or ‘doing something’ and when I say “someone else” I obviously mean K – I can’t really expect the kids to whisk me away somewhere. But, to be fair, when he makes suggestions I quite often put a damper on it (because it wasn’t my idea – I know, I’m evil) so I would suspect he has got fed up of asking. There is a lot of truth behind star signs and I am a true Gemini – very, very fickle.

I’ve never been very good at breaking bad habits: I still pick at my fingers; I still eat too much chocolate; I still find it hard to say no (but I am working on that one) and I still feel guilty about nearly everything. But new habits are even harder to make. They say you have to do something for 60 consecutive days to make a habit. I think I manage 2 days of a healthy diet at most before I cave. I rarely manage to get past week 1 of a new exercise regime. Chocolate anyone? It’s not looking good for this creature to kick off her habits and make new ones. Small changes, perhaps? A new playlist. Wear some of the other clothes that are hanging in my wardrobe wondering why they are never worn (I know they don’t really have thoughts, I’m not mad). A break in the afternoon sometimes. Who knows where this could all lead?

 

*since writing this I have texted A’s friend’s mum and arranged a sleepover for this Saturday – yes, this Saturday – in 2 days time. Get me, being all spontaneous.

Time flies when….

……you’re having fun or so the old saying goes. That would explain why last week dragged by at the speed of, well, a very slow thing.

I’m struggling to find anything enjoyable about my job at the moment. I know it’s the time of year. I know I get like this every winter. I know I will snap out of it. But while I am IN IT I can’t get out of it.

Mondays are OK as they are my busy day catching up on the emails from the miserable buggers who buy from us our customers from over the weekend. I don’t mind Mondays from that point of view – I mean I HATE Mondays in general, in that sinking-feeling-on-a-Sunday-night kind of way – and so Mondays can be let off the hook, for now. Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the worst. Less busy, working from home and not in the office, almost wishing for a batch of orders to go missing just so I have something to get my teeth into. I struggle to be motivated. Mainly because my job is very reactive. I have other stuff that I can do when the email accounts are quiet but it’s pretty mundane,  stuff. So, most of the time I am waiting for something to happen. And quite often it doesn’t. Thursdays are my equivalent to other people’s Fridays. I can smell the weekend with my extra lovely day, Friday day off, loveliest day of the week. On Thursdays I can just about keep going, knowing Friday is nearly here.

I am lucky with my job really. I can work from home. I can be here when the kids are sick, I can be here when the boiler needs servicing (NOT a euphemism, do you even know me at all?), I am able to keep on top of the washing and have the odd coffee break with a friend. I also have to keep on top of the washing, be here when the boiler is serviced, do all the things that I used to do before I went back into the working world, because no-one else is going to do it. Double edged sword, huh?

I always get to this time of year and start wishing I could do something else. I have no idea what and that, I imagine, is the biggest hurdle of all. I have always envied people who know what they want to do. I’m really glad that both my kids seem to have a strong idea already of what they want to do when they leave school. I have always felt a bit unfocused, falling into jobs that just seem to have been the right thing at the time. I never stayed in one job for more than two years and I’ve never had a speciality. I don’t have any real skills other than being quite methodical, quick to pick things up and not easily panicked. Oh, and I quite like a spreadsheet. Try sticking that in a career algorithm and see what you get.

I think that’s part of the problem now. I’d like to have got to 45 and be doing the job of my dreams. Trouble is I’ve never had that dream. My dreams mainly consist of things I need to do; sometimes in my dreams I have forgotten something important and I am rushing around to get it done. How can you get your dream job if you don’t know what it is? I can’t get through the next 15-20 year ticking off a list of things I definitely know I DON’T want to do in the hope that I will get to the end of the list and – TA-DAH! – discover I want to be a rocket scientist. Hmm, no that won’t work. I think I need a different plan.

In the absence of any inspiration, I will plod on, feeling a bit fed up, until spring when I always feel more positive about EVERYTHING. It’s not long now, is it?