Saturday, September 30, 2006



The ceremony was amazing. We all arrived in the afternoon carrying our posh frocks and were shown to our dressing rooms, I had just unpacked all my make-up etc when I was told I had to move from the lovely big one on the ground floor with proper theatrical mirrors, surrounded by lights, to a really shabby one upstairs which had no blinds and no mirrors! Fortunately the Deputy Director who was to have the better room told me not to move my things and we shared it, together with one of the female doctors who was also presenting.

After the final run through we had a cup of tea and a sandwich and then got changed to greet the guests and supporters. Once everyone was seated in the theatre the show started and after some dancers from a performing arts college and some unexpected opera from people strategically placed among the audience(!) the six presentations, along with their films, began.

I went third, with my co-presenter, and as we got up onto the stage and stared into that hazy space where the audience are just visible through the glare of the lights we knew we had to give it our best shot.

The evening was very, very long. It started at 7pm; and the interval following all the presentations was at 9.30pm. In the second half there was more dancing, some individual awards for two staff and a speech from the National Director of Mental Health before … finally at around 11pm the results were announced:

“Gold Award goes to Jan and the Vocational Services Team!!!!" Yeah!!! We did it. Everyone came up on stage, fireworks went off, bits of tinsel dropped from the ceiling, we were presented with a huge cheque, a framed certificate and things that can only be described as clear perspex Jim’ll Fix It badges with a great big number 1 on them.

Fabulous Darling! Absolutely Fabulous.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


Incredible accessories

The Quality Awards ceremony is this week. We have three rehearsals: one was yesterday, then tomorrow night and the final one at lunchtime on Thursday before the real thing on Thursday evening. I have twisted the arms of my mum, Neil and Carolyn to cheer me on. We have been told that the supporters are to be given whistles, hooters and rattles etc to bring some atmosphere to the proceedings.

The filming of our DVD went well and it's safely in the can; I have rehearsed my speech ad nauseam; the shoes are bought, and I’m picking up the dress tomorrow – nothing can stop us now.

Since my last post C. has started school and seems to have settled in well. I am gradually getting used to the new routine which was a bit disruptive for the first three weeks while she only went for the mornings, but now she’s on full days things are much easier to juggle.

I enjoyed making her birthday cake last weekend – it was chocolate sponge, chocolate filling and chocolate icing with smarties and chocolate buttons! Bliss.

Being out on Thursday night I will miss the first of the new series of What Not to Wear without Trinny and Susannah. Those Queens of Mean will be back the following Tuesday on ITV with their new programme: Trinny and Susannah undressed – ooh which show will be better… ? Or will both be completely outshone by Meryl Streep in her new movie The Devil Wears Prada, in which her character is “a cross between Cruella De Vil and Simon Cowell, a stylish, demanding, blunt-speaking barracuda with incredible accessories”?

Enough of this materialism, I must get down to preparing Discoverers for Sunday!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


Wet Windsor?

Ok, there was some rain, but not too much really, so we achieved quite a lot on one damp Sunday starting with (of course) Windsor Castle itself, which had implemented some of the same security measures as the airports i.e. no liquids allowed. This meant that we had to pass over hand-gel and take a raffle ticket in return so that we could reclaim it afterwards. C loved the children’s audio commentary and we had to wait for her in quite a few of the rooms, while she stood concentrating hard and looking around at all the things she was hearing about on her handset.

We headed for a good olde English pub for Sunday lunch where all was going well until we were just about to order dessert and suddenly all the lights went off… there was a power cut. This very quickly became a major problem because none of the kitchen equipment would work and neither would the electronic till which records everyone’s orders! We tried to order hot desserts and coffee, but there was no chance, so we asked for the bill and the bemused waitress looked at the till and then back at us and said “I don’t know what to do”. Eventually they managed to add up what we had eaten with the calculator on someone’s mobile phone and fortunately we could give them cash. It would have been impossible if plastic had been our only means of paying.

We took some photos on an open top bus tour, including this one,

braved the Windsor Wheel – not as high as the London Eye, but still scary for me, and finished the afternoon with a delicious cream tea in the Crooked House (pictured at the top).

Another Grand Day Out.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

My husband has bought a caravan! He says it’s more cost effective than staying at B&Bs or Travel Lodges while he is working at Garden Shows around the South of England – and as a bonus, this weekend when he is not working (and I am not doing Discoverers); we will all be able to enjoy a weekend break in our own mobile home.

The thought of Sunny Southampton is very appealing, but I fear the probability will be torrential rain in Reading.


What!... pencils?

I had arranged for some researchers to use a room over in Brentwood for a focus group, but forgot to check about tea and coffee when booking the room. The group was due to be held today, so I rang up before it started and the conversation went something like this:

“Would it be possible for you to make 4 or 5 cups of tea or coffee for a meeting that will be held in your group room today?”

“No, we don’t offer drinks to visitors.”

“Well, do you think you could make an exception as this is a one-off meeting and it would help to make people feel comfortable?”

“But we don’t make drinks for people using the room, we don’t have an urn.”

“Yes, I understand that, but could you do me a favour and help us out just this once?”

“We don’t have any facilities to offer drinks. We just make our own and we pay for the milk.”

“So it is possible for you to make hot drinks…?”

“Yes but I can’t, I’m the receptionist.”

And so it went on, with her saying she would have to speak to her manager, and me saying that I would appreciate it, etc, etc. Quite a waste of time really, it would have been so much quicker (helpful and generous) for her just to say “Yes, I’m sure we can manage a few drinks, I’ll see what I can do”.

It just reminded me of the advert where he can’t borrow a pen (or even a pencil) because they’re all for “brand new customers only”.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


And the winner is ...

I am so excited that my department has been nominated for this year’s South Essex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust Quality Awards at the Basildon Towngate Theatre in September.

It means that in Oscars-style we have a DVD made about our work which is shown after our project is introduced and I get to dress up in formal wear and have my acceptance speech at the ready. The ceremony will be a wonderful experience – sweeping staircase, professionals dancers and someone important presenting the prizes, but hopefully no tears.

I will let you know how our preparation and rehearsals go.

I would like to thank my agent…


Smile you're on camera

A while ago, whilst idly surfing the net, I came across the feed of a web cam which is sited on a beach fairly close to the town in North East Spain which we regularly visit. As it’s a live web cam, if you visit the site here at night, you won’t see much. But if you visit it in the light (on a busy day) it does look remarkably like this:

Whilst on holiday I persuaded Neil that it would be fun to find the beach with the web cam and try it out, so we did. If you look really closely you can see him!

Monday, July 10, 2006


Sun, sand, sea .....

Off on holiday for a week - see you when we're back.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006


Notes for Bridget Jones no. 19

My tip of the week is the way to enjoy chocolate biscuits and wonderfully
hot weather together: don't put the biscuits in the fridge - they seem to go a bit stale, taste funny and the chocolate goes too hard. Just buy these (or the M&S version). Very yummy and only slightly gooey and sticky along the edges. Highly recommended.

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