Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Mappa Mundi

This is my new mappa mundi (in the world of BS5).

It is a map that shows my store locations with each to be visited on a regular basis.
I have been to two of them so far with the rest of my opening days spent at my head office. This week I will take in three more of mine and two more that are not mine (necessitating a train hoof into London to visit Covent Garden store). I like the train element but I am also enjoying the solid comfort of the car.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Please say hello to Yolanda.

I have not had occasion to post an entry like this one in the 7 year, 4 day, 1243-entry history of BlogBS5.

In all that time, I have delighted in owning VX52, my faithful, reliable and much loved Mercedes Benz. VX52 (a he) is solid and well put together. He has  been with me longer than my blog and he and I have notched up 91,000 miles all over the place and with beloved passengers along too.

Now, however, in October 2014, I have landed a new job. I have left the RSPB and moved on to become an Area Manager for this firm: Rohan. I have twice as many stores to look after across roughly the same geographical region.  The role is on probation for three months, and then moves to permanence. Fair enough and quite the norm these days.

I have a company car with this job. Three years old but new to me, and only three years old because it makes sense for my firm to allocate an 'old' car my way until they and I decide if this gig is permanent; at that point a newer one heads to BS5.

So, in the meantime, please meet Yolanda.

Yolanda hails from Liverpool and she has rather hussy-like red brake-callipers.  To be perfectly honest she is a bit racy, at the top end of her model range (a VRS) and pretty fast. VX52 is unsure...

I have to confess I had driven Yolanda 140 miles before I realised she had a sixth gear (oops). She's a diesel, as sporty as they come and if you get at her , she can really belt along, although thus far I have honestly not exceeded 71 mph in my opening 300 miles. Of course, like any good woman, she has plenty of torque.

Here she is with VX52 looking on in the last shot.  I should sell VX52 (reluctantly) but may just hold on, in case three months is the end of the line! I hope he doesn't hold a grudge towards me and I trust semper fidelis  will top out until I have to move him on.

Sticks and larks in Royal parks

A week ago today (Sunday) I spent the afternoon with my brother and terrific sister in law. We took Toby and Quaddy for a romp and a run in Windsor Great Park (about 11 miles from their house and 2.2 miles from the Queen's).

I had not been before and it had pretty much everything to tick the boxes for a Blog BS5 post. We saw a massive statue of George III; a terrific view of Windsor Castle; loads of planes on the final approach to Heathrow (including an A380, which was massive); runners, cyclists, gallopers on horseback , and some very big sticks and a stinky pond.  Needless to say T&Q took advantage of those last two, and the car journey home was fragrant.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Sunday in the park with Greg

With thanks to Georges Seurat for the title, here is a post about Sunday.

I am leaving BS5 this morning to stay with my brother and sister in law. Their house puts me in decent proximity of a new job that I start in the morning.

Whilst my new Area is fine for living in Bristol, my new head office is in Buckinghamshire, so I want to be there in good time on day 1, hence  completing most of the journey today. I will catch a Paddington train shortly and meet up. Our afternoon plan is a doggie walk in Windsor Great Park - a new venue for me and I will blog about it later.

Here is my desk as I leave - I am nervous about tomorrow and excited too - 5:95 in that ratio. I gave of my best in the interview and they readily offered me the job, but tomorrow it starts for real!

Friday, 10 October 2014

Mundanities , indulgences and a Mercedes.

This is the last weekday of my week off between jobs.

I have been a busy chap today, driving to and from a nearby hospital to take a good pal for his check up and appointment (all seemed well) and to collect him again a couple of hours later.

Once I had completed that errand I had a bit of time just to lark about on my own and to drive my car for the pleasure of it.

I visited Cribbs Causeway, a retail outlet not too far from BS5. New jeans, (decent leg length at Gap), new handkerchiefs for work, and a new belt, and also a new fountain pen having left mine on a train ages and ages back and wishing for one since. I made the lady in John Lewis blush by going back to her later in the trip and thanking her for her excellent service on buying a Cross Fountain Pen, and next to a colleague who happened to be her boss too! She was grateful for my feedback and it felt good to make someone's morning. Always nicer to say thank you than to complain.

After that, it was the mundanity of Morrison's for flour, fish, new shoe polish and dull old laundry items. But then....!  I drove towards home and called in at the Mercedes garage to try out a £124,000 S-Class. It was terrific. I sat in the front with adequate room and then tried the back which was still enormous. I am buying one if my ticket comes up, but not the AMG model I sat in; Mercedes will sell you one for a more modest £77,000 and that one returns 50.2 mpg!

Here is the view from the back seat of a £124,000 vehicle. Below that, my new fountain pen.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Half way through.

Tonight I am blogging at my Mac, half way through this Monday-Friday between jobs.

It has been an interesting week of emptiness, but also full of fine things to do with lots of space to think about them.

Today I submitted final RSPB expenses, totalling around £700, mostly deployed on train fares. I took a suit to the dry cleaners, I had my hair cut (asking for more off, once I put my specs on again) and I cooked dinner which went down very well indeed. I also worked right through my kitchen cupboards, tidying them up, replacing lining paper and squaring stuff away.

A moment ago I looked at my desk, so often full of work things pertinent to the next day and a train to somewhere, but tonight on hold awhile.

I like that. I like the shadow of the wine glass too. Most of all I like my collection of train tickets, a goodbye card from the last gig, and the wooden holder for my cufflinks, a gift from leaving the office three jobs ago.

I think I am content.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

A crisp weekend between one job and the next.

Last week I finished up after 5 years, 8 months at The RSPB. It has been my longest tenure in post in my retail career. It was a pleasure to work there but the right time to move on to my new opportunity.

The new opportunity starts next week with a post to follow once I am in; I am not a tempter of fate and won't blog it early.

At the weekend there was an atmosphere of letting things go and just enjoying the crisp start of the autumn. It involved good friends, tanks (virtual) dogs, logs, cats, lamb (twice), views, beers and Gloucestershire and Herefordshire larks. A few delayed trains out of Paddington were in the mix too.

Here's a quick visual recap.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

The chop and stack ninja pack!

Here's a top smart time-lapse video of our afternoon's work at Les and Sal's house.

Les on axe, my brother sharing stack, pack and fetch detail with me.

Great fun after 14 barrow loads.

We followed this up with some pints of beer and a fine lamb tagine. And then to bed with the cat for company.


Saturday, 4 October 2014

Weekend tasks.

I like a free weekend that involves plenty of things to do.

This weekend I am in Herefordshire and I am helping my pal Les fill up his new log store. It will be hard work but quite satisfying. After log tasks, we are trying out his local and then returning to the house for a lamb tagine and a bottle of plonk ( four of us round the table) .

Other tasks this weekend: iron my mother's ironing pile (complete), de-green the gate on the drive, take the hounds for a walk, make a Sunday casserole. And anything else that occurs to me. 

And a week off to follow too!


Tuesday, 30 September 2014

The 17.15 home from Paddington- a train that beckons.

And so it is nearly here, this exit from a job I have enjoyed and succeeded at for five and a half years.

In my first year my charitable stores turned over £1.2m -  for the year that ended last F.Y  it was £1.5m. On many measures trends have improved. Across my tenure, the teams I support have made a direct charitable contribution of £1,849, 000 to our cause (plus a good slug extra since April '14 that will nudge it over £2m). Not too shabby and not a share holder or dividend in sight.

I have opened three, closed three, maintained a core of five and enjoyed low staff turnover, solid morale and very, very few customer complaints. I almost didn't go for it when offered the interview but wiser heads prevailed in my interest back then. Work has generally been a delight since.

My last day is a London handover later this week and I have a range of feelings about it. The train in and out will be more reminiscent of Paddington aged nine with my mother, than with work aged forty-two (on first arrival there 33 years ago I stopped and looked, and I knew I liked it for good). The London handover on Petty France will have integrity and that is down to hard work, humility, self-confidence  and a ready, easy capacity for articulate rapport earned gratefully at school.

I have learned a lot from a good Scottish boss, a hand-grenade English boss and an easy going last boss in place since 2012. I know a good deal more about the cause than when I started and I know a fair bit more about my own capabilities too, in many things. It was a good gig in which to turn forty just a couple of years ago.

These are the thoughts and pictures as the next, welcome gig comes along - on a horse as it strangely turns out. I bagged that one on the merit gained in this one.

Possibility, fulfilment and stretchy trousers beckon.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

My day off treat.

Toot toot!

My day off treat: seeing this fine steam train coming into Temple Meads and hanging about afterwards. A pal in Bath told me all about it and it coincided with a day off. Fellow BS5er Stevie Hopes and I took a ton of pictures and happily stood out as train spotters!


Wednesday 24 September 2014

BR(S) Merchant Navy Class 4-6-2 no 35028 Clan Line


Steam hauled: Victoria-Bristol-Victoria

0.0London Victoriad 08:4535028
Stewarts Lane Jn08:53
Clapham Jn09:01
Hounslow  09:21
Staines  09:32
Ascot  09:50
Wokingham  10:09
Reading Spur Jn  10:18
Reading New Jna 10:21
d 10:34
Reading p7  10:36
Southcote Jn  10:40
Newbury Racecoursea 11:03water
d 11:20
Heywood Rd Jn  12:10
Hawkeridge Jn  12:14
Bradford Jn  12:24
Bathampton Jn  12:36
Bath Spaa 12:40
   d 12:45
N Somerset Jn  13:02
Bristol Temple Meads p10a 13:10

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Belt and bracelets.

At the end of last week I stayed  with good pals in Caergelliog,  a wee little village on the island of Anglesey. It is near one of the reserves where I support a retail team in my capacity as Area Manager.

Matt, Bethan and I go back as far as University days, and that's twenty years ago now. I have known Cassidy and Mycroft since they were born. To them I am Uncle Bong, the tall man who is happy to goon about and be silly. Evidence below.

I was mightily pleased when C&M gave me these bracelets, made especially for me.

I will wear them today on my bicycle ride to the Lock and Weir pub,  a few miles from here.

Thank you Cass and Mike!