It seems so much longer …


Strange post title some may think, but today it is three months since I retired from working life. Not a long time, but like the title says “Seems so much longer …” Of course, my initial plan has gone out of the window. My intention was to have a part-time job before Christmas. Nothing too much. Somewhere around 16 hours, just to give me a bit of pocket/petrol money. At the moment, it is not needed and to be honest, there does not seem to have been anything in the offering that I feel I would have enjoyed. However, now that Christmas is over, maybe the type of work I would want to do will start to resurface.

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With work in mind, a couple of weeks ago, I contacted my old boss. My security access card was still sitting in the glove compartment of my car. It was my intention to call in at my old office, just before Christmas (possibly on the day when they had their Christmas fuddle!) and hand my card in then. It never happened. Or more to the point, I never made it happen. I bottled out, I’m afraid to say. There are many reasons for this, but at the moment I want to keep them private.

So, I contacted my old boss to explain and to ask for her address to send the card back. I did the usual and ask how things were going on etc etc. It took a couple of weeks, but she replied today. The email was brief, but had a lot of information, and I felt enough confidence to email a couple of other colleagues to ask how they were.

It is unfortunate that I only have their work email as I feel it takes some of the personal aspect out of it. Still, I hope that they get back to me, as at the moment, I still want/need to keep in contact.

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Yet again, on the subject of blogging I was asked “What is you blog about?” And, yet again I get the same puzzled look when I reply that it is just about ‘What I want to write about, when I want to write it!’ I don’t have a theme, it’s just general ‘rants & raves’ with a slight emphasis on the ranting aspect.

It has given me food for thought though. Maybe, just maybe I could add a paragraph or two about my hobbies! As I say, food for thought.

One more week …


Well only five more 06:30 wake-up alarms! But it has been dragging on and on and on …….. and on and on.

No luck on the part-time job front yet. K*** thinks I need to get something, in her words “That I would like to do …” My take on that is get something I can do, and wait for something I would like to do. And that is the advice from colleagues also. I have to ask myself though, “What would I like to do?” It has to be something I enjoy doing, and from the past few years, there’s not a lot I like doing workwise. I suppose I would prefer to sit in front of a computer rather than a manual job, but needs must outweigh desire. (Note to self: sounds like a good sound bite “Needs Must Outweigh Desire” maybe a story title?)

As I said, work seems to be dragging on and on. Someone else is now working on the project that I’ve been working for the past 18 months. I have been drafted back into the main team (Team! … more about that another time) to help out with general support calls coming in. The problem is, that being not a part of the main team since way before my operation, I do not have the skills that others have developed, and with my imminent departure, it’s not really worth retaining me. I can pick up odd calls that I do know about, but they tend to be very basic tasks, that lower graded staff pick up first. I also think that ‘they’ may be worried that if I’m pushed into new work, I may just go sick! Others have done it before and I have had a days sick this week already. I have a feeling that next week is going to be even slower.

Building to the “Big Day” …


I’ve been neglecting my blog for a couple of weeks. What with the problems we have had with the transport for R*** and preparing for my impending retirement, I don’t seem to have had the time. Well, maybe that’s not the full story. I don’t think I have really had the inclination to put ‘fingers to keyboard’ so to speak. Apart from this week, even the Weekly Photo Challenge has not interested me. So today I thought I would make the effort.

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Work has been a little ‘strange’ you might say. With three weeks to go, I’m taken off the project I’ve been on for the past 18 months and brought back into the main team. The main issue with this is that I no longer have the knowledge (if I did in the first place) that is needed in this team. After my operation recovery period, I felt that I needed retraining on all the applications and procedures that the team use. I put this forward to my line manager at the time, and the response was that I can sit with E***** who can show me what to do …’ the old’ what used to be called ‘Sitting with Nellie’. That kind of training doesn’t always work … and it didn’t. Well not to any great lengths. Then I was moved onto a project, based in a different office with no real contact with the main team, work-wise. Basically told to concentrate on the project and nothing else. What resulted was, that the little knowledge I gained just disappeared. ‘Use it or lose it! ’ is the phrase that is often quoted and it really does apply in many instances. I’ve picked up a few things, but it has not been the best of weeks.

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I applied for a job! It was a part-time job as a receptionist at my Dr’s surgery. Sounded just what I needed for when I finish. Two days a week, plus holiday and sickness cover. After reading the job description, I felt that this was something I could do with my eyes closed. It was what I was initially trained for 26 years ago. I had set-up two referees, who had both said they would give me a ‘glowing’ reference. But it wasn’t to be. I didn’t even get an interview and the only way I knew that the job had gone was when I went for my blood test on Wednesday. As I went into the surgery, there was a lady being shown how to ‘check for prescriptions that had been posted’. I’m thinking that they may have felt that I was over qualified for the post. Maybe I need to rethink how I present myself. Work in progress! The upside is that both referees said they would always be prepared to give me a reference.

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As the days pass (or should I say drag on) to what everyone seems to be calling the Big Day, I’m getting more and more conscious of  the reality of what is happening. None more so than when I had my blood test. The phlebotomist was chatting about me always the first one, and I was explaining about the parking issues and the need to get in before 09:30. It was then that I told him that it would probably be the last time I was in so early, as I was taking early (always mention ’early’) retirement. That kind of hit home. Then I have all my colleagues asking what my plans are after I finish. Apart from getting a little part-time job, I don’t really have any other plans. I’ll have more time to write here. Maybe I’ll do an online course, there are a few that sound interesting, but I would need time to them … now I will have that time. I want to start doing some creative writing. More creative than the couple of short stories I have posted on here. Everybody is supposed to have a novel in them, so that may be in the pipeline. I don’t have any hobbies really. I take a few photos and do a bit of crafting … I may expand on that. I need to exercise and get some weight down. It has been quite difficult, because of my past work location to take the current required daily “20 minutes walk”. Being located between a sewerage works, a cement works, a Council incinerator and a landfill site is not conducive to walks of any kind.

I think at the end of the day, I just need to take it as it comes.

(The effort I mentioned at the start has resulted in 784 words!)

All starting to get a bit real now …


Well, the confirmation I’ve been waiting for, came through on Friday morning. My boss emailed me first thing to tell me that my application for Early Retirement had been passed by the Corporate Panel. I am now all set to retire from full time employment on the 31st October.

I may have mentioned this before, but Leeds has had to respond to the huge funding cuts that have been forced on the Council. One of the initiatives has been what Leeds call the ‘Early Leavers Initiative’ or ELI as it is known. This is basically voluntary early retirement. Staff over a certain age in services that are at the forefront of the cuts are able to apply for ELI in order to reduce costs. I applied back in July, when it became obvious that our team was one of the teams that could be at risk. I felt it was a case of jump before I was pushed. Going now, I get a reasonable package, that I would not have got if I would have been one of the ‘pushed’ and my Service Head made it quite clear that some people would be forced to go in March 2017.

So now, I need to look for a part-time job. Although the package is a good one, it’s a lot less than I am currently used too. I also need to be able to get out of the house an keep active. My knitting and computer hobbies will not fill all the time and I don’t want to be under the feet of K*** everyday. Fingers crossed I find something quickly. 

… and then it was over …


The holiday came to an end on Friday. Was it a success?  In many ways it was. The celebration lunch on Thursday was great and everyone enjoyed the meal and general get together. However, it did have an effect on me that I will come to later. Some of the family went home Thursday, which left room for S**** and A**** to stay over for one night, which was nice. They were off early Friday morning as they were having a day in York. K*** and me and C**** and J*** (‘the in-laws’) visited a nearby garden that was open to the public and had a pleasant time.

At around half past two, we went our separate ways. K*** and me needed to get some shopping from the supermarket. We did that and then went on to Tadcaster and that cycle shop/bar/café that I may have mentioned before, for a drink before home.

R*** was home a little earlier than expected and there had been ‘issues’ in the taxi. He had been picked up a little early and the driver had had a problem with her ‘sat-nav’ which resulted in them taking a route different to his usual routes. This caused all sorts of problems and both the driver and the escort suffered for it. I’ll not go into too many details, but many will know that people that are Autistic do not cope well with change. I shall leave it at that. K*** is taking him and bringing him home on Monday, and we will await what the transport company make of it.

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Now to the ‘effect’ I referred to earlier in this post. The pub we went to was (as I’ve been told) the same pub we went to for my birthday back in April this year. I had no recollection of the place! Granted, we were in a different room, different time of day and we approached the place from a different direction, but I could not remember any of it. Apparently we had our order taken by the same waitress that took the order on my birthday. Nothing! I got the usual “Don’t you remember blah blah” and “You must remember blah blah blah.” But I didn’t. Even when someone said “You’ve ordered the same as last time … remember?” I had to say that I did not.

At first, my memory issues were put down to my operation and what is commonly known as ‘Pump-head’ but this usually clears up after a few months, and it’s been over two years since the op’ so it seems an unlikely cause. So what is left? One immediately thinks of Alzheimer’s and the worry starts to creep in. It is certainly something to mention at a future meeting with my doctor, and at times it can be extremely stressful and worrying.

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Back to work tomorrow and it’s getting close to the close down of the project that I’ve been working on for that past eighteen months. After this it will be back to being a ‘senior application support officer’ and all that that entails. Not something I am looking forward to.

I hope to hear something regarding my Voluntary Early Retirement (VER) application this week. It goes to the Corporate Panel on Thursday and as I understand, it is merely a rubber stamp procedure. I intend to chase up my Head of Service first thing on Friday morning for an answer and then the real planning can start.

I suppose there is a reason …


At work, we are now only able to access our pay advice via what is called a ‘Self-Service Portal’. This basically means a page on the works intranet site. The only really downside, is that you have to be at work (or on VPN) to get your payslip. Previously, it was possible to access the site from your personal computer/tablet by logging through the web-mail app.

So, how do you get your payslip home. You could print the thing, but work frowns upon unnecessary print so the only other way is to email to your personal email address. But wait …isn’t that a security risk? I know, I’ll pack it up in a zip file and password protect it. Oh no! Work doesn’t like that … it cannot virus check it! It refuses to send the mail!

So what do I do? Well, I open my personal webmail application (ZoHo mail. The one I’ve been playing around with) and attach the password protected zip file and mail it to my GMail account. No problems encountered, and my password protected payslip is safely delivered.

I think I know the reason that work wouldn’t send the password protected file. They would not want to be responsible for any problems with an email coming through their accounts. But hey didn’t stop me sending it through a personal email account, which I find a little odd!

A Rant, A Query and a bit of a Moan


I’m going to start with a bit of a rant. I know I have mentioned this before, but I can knit. Not huge amounts of clothes but usually small crafty items, such as daffodils and hearts and the like. DaffsI’ve done it on and off since I as about 8 years old, and when I’m in the mood, I really enjoy it. Now the issue I have, is that nearly all the magazines and websites dedicated to knitting do not seems to tailor any  of their content to the male knitter. Men have always knitted, and while todays society is a little less ‘macho’ enforced it is still rare to see a man knitting in public. I’ve done it, and you do feel very self conscious. It is not until your public realise that it can be quite intricate and that you are quite good at it, that some semblance of normality creeps in.

It annoys me when you see articles about knitting STheSin magazines or on the internet, that they almost always show pictures of women with their needles (never call them pins!) in their hands. It is the same with sewing and embroidery … never men. I recently signed up to an online knitting forum, with the intention expressing my concerns in the area on male knitting. I was more than disappointed when my registration confirmation email, which was addressed to Anthony Huby, started with “Dear Ms …” I’m still awaiting comments on that first post!

Here endeth today’s rant.

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I’m pondering at the moment, as to what software to use to write. I have Microsoft Word, which I tend to use mostly. However, there are a lot of suggestions that I need to write with software that has a cleaner interface. By that I mean not as many ‘whistles and bells’. Something a little plainer. More than a simple text editor such as Wordpad though, and possibly software that is dedicated for writers.

The two top mentioned software applications seems to be Scrivener and yWriter. I found both very confusing to use. Scrivener was a trial version, and had a number of features that were not available, but even so, I found it difficult to understand. yWriter is freeware, but was even more confusing as it tries to concentrate your mind on breaking chapters down into what it calls ‘scenes’.

I have tried both but think I am going to go back to Word. It’s an application that I know quite well and have used for a long (long) time. I’m loathe to pay for more software (don’t like paying for anything if the truth were known) if what I have got does the job.

What do all you writers out there in WordPress land use, and just as importantly, is it free?

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Back to work tomorrow! Not looking forward to it at all. I still feel a little under the weather, but not ill enough to warrant any more time off. Of course, the question I always get asked (we have a ‘return to work interview’) will be “Are you back to 100%?” I’ve not been 100% for many years, I tend to hover around a normal level of around 92%, so the question always winds me up a little.

I’ll get the usual raised eyebrows when I mention I’ve been off with a ‘cold’. These are the same people that would complain if they caught a cold, that “…they got it from ‘so and so’ who has been sneezing all over the place …” Can’t win with a simple cold!See what I mean

We are also starting with a new telephone system tomorrow. It uses Skype for Business as its exchange and means that laptop users, which most of us are, will have to wear a headset, when making or receiving a phone call. I’m expecting to look like an overpaid telephonist (no offence). It is supposed to save the Council. The theory, as I understand it is that as we already use Skype for Business for instant messaging, using it as a phone does not coast any more. Training on the new system seems to be a bit sporadic, but as ‘The Team’ are classed as IT people, I think we are supposed to just get on with it. That part of tomorrow could be quite intriguing.