Sunday, 20 February 2011

London Bridge is falling down

Why am I not smiling? Probably because the weather was pissing me off.

Last weekend K and I went to London! I'm signed up to the East Coast train line's e-newsletter and in December got an email telling me that they had some special £8 fares for travel in January and February. So we booked our tickets to go down for Valentine's weekend. We managed to get our accomodation pretty cheaply too with Travelodge, if you book far enough in advance (6 weeks or so) you can get a really good deal. Basically we got travel and accomodation for 3 nights for 2 people for about £200 - pretty good I think!

Our train down was at 8.35am on the Saturday. This wasn't so much of a big deal for me because I'd been getting to work for 8.10am all week, but K hates getting up early if he can possibly avoid it. For some reason the train on a Saturday takes a full hour longer than it does the rest of the week, around 5 and a half hours instead of 4 and a half. This meant we'd be getting in just before 2pm, and given we couldn't check in at the hotel til 3pm this wasn't an issue. But while on the train a number of line faults meant that the train arrived at Kings Cross 50 minutes late. Now, whilst this solved the issue of what do we do for an hour til check in, it did mean we had been on the train for 6 and a half hours - we could have flown to New York in that time! Not fun. Naturally we were feeling a bit sweaty and grim by the time, so the first thing we did at the hotel was shower/change before heading out again.

We took a stroll round Covent Garden (we're tourists, give us a break), Leicester Square, Picadilly Circus etc. Got a Bubble Tea in China Town, which I liked but K said the tapioca pearls tasted like snot :S They didn't, but they are a weird texture. The juice bit's nice though. K really wanted to go to Ripley's Believe It Or Not museum, and luckily I'd researched this in advance and discovered that if you have a train ticket going into London you can print out 2 for 1 vouchers for various London attractions. As Ripley's is open until midnight we went there after a Nando's at about 10pm. With our 2 for 1 voucher we got in for £25 - which is fine for both of us but no way would I have paid that for just one ticket! We would not have gone if we hadn't had the voucher. Ripley's was good fun, full of lots of cool and weird artefacts, but not worth £25 each. We enjoyed it though, and if you can get in cheaper and are stuck for something to do at night it's worth a trip.

On the Sunday I decided we'd go to the Natural History museum and the Cabinet War Rooms. This did not go to plan. The NH museum was hoaching, what with it being a weekend, and the queues were massive so instead we popped next door to the much quieter Science Museum. It was K who had wanted to go to the Science museum but I think I enjoyed it more than he did. Dim Sum was our lunch, in Chinatown of course, and then we headed to Westminster to go to the Cabinet War Rooms. Unfortunately this takes about an hour and a half to go round and shuts at 6, and we didn't get there til 4.30pm. Yes we could have gone then, but K wanted to go into St James Park first and promised we'd go to the War Rooms 'tomorrow' instead. I relented. I spent most of the time in the park in a bad mood due to the awful weather. It was raining and blowing a gale - ideal weather for a walk. My umbrella was being blown in all directions and gradually breaking, and my lovely leopard print coat was getting soaked :( A Caffe Nero next to Trafalgar Square cheered me up. We went back to the hotel, changed and headed out to Leicester Square for food, ending up in TGI Fridays eating steak and drinking Ultimate cocktails.

Monday of course was Valentine's day, but conveniently I had an interview for an internship at 2.30pm - slap bang in the middle of the afternoon. The morning we spent at the Natural History museum (eventually) and then I had to head off for my interview. I was told this would be a 'short chat' but it ended up lasting almost an hour! Which was great in a sense, I think the interview went well, but it did mean that by the time I got back to the hotel and changed we had no time for the War Rooms. Fate was conspiring against me! In the evening we went for food and then met my friend R who lives in London. And proceeded to get really quite drunk. Cider, Jack'n'Cokes, a bottle of Prosecco (it's R's birthday today, it was my treat) and Barcardi Breezers back at the hotel. It was a lot of fun though and I'm really glad that R and K got on.

K was pretty hungover on Tuesday, but I felt not too bad. Our train back was at 6pm so we had most of the day to kill. We FINALLY went to the Cabinet War Rooms! Again I had a 2 for 1 voucher for this, and it was much more reasonably priced at about £15 a ticket. The tour's interesting, but it's an audio guide and sometimes there really isn't enough in a room to sustain your interest for the length of the audio. It's pretty amazing seeing the rooms though, especially when you consider that they practically lived in there due to the constant work load and threat of air raids above. It does last a bit long though, what with the Churchill museum in the middle. I now know more than I ever wanted nor needed to know about Winston Churchill. K wanted to go to the aquarium so we headed over Westminster Bridge to the Southbank. Lunch was Japanese, yum. I also had a voucher for the aquarium, costing about £18 a ticket. It was alright. The fish are pretty and it's really cool seeing rays, sharks, turtles etc. but it's so busy and very annoying when large groups of tourists take up all the space at the viewing windows for a long time and don't move. I don't get why people are so inconsiderate! And the tunnel was really short :S It did have a lot of fish though and I took loads of photos (most of which aren't very good). Got the tube back to Kings Cross and on the train back to Edinburgh!

All in all we had a good weekend. The weather was largely awful and I can't say that any one attraction was necessarily worth its entrance fee, but we had fun. We could have shopped, we could have clubbed, we could have gone to loads of 'cool' places, but to be honest playing the tourist was what I wanted to do. Maybe if I'd been to London more often I'd be more up for doing something different, but I haven't so I'll do what I want.

I realise this is really quite a long post, oops. And now it is very late at night, so I shall bid you all adieu.

Thursday, 10 February 2011


So, how is my job search going? Not amazingly, but I suppose not as badly as it could have been going!

On Monday I started an assignment with a body I shall decline to name, for fear of someone reading this (who?!). I was informed by my agency that this would be a purely administrative role, processing forms and applications etc. I did not anticipate that I would be sat at a desk doing the same menial task day in and day out. Essentially I open envelopes, take the forms out, check to see if they've been signed - if they have, date stamp it - if they haven't I give them to someone who sends them back (I can't do this myself as no-one has set up a computer account for me yet), if someone has sent original documents (eg payslips) or written in blue ink (two things the forms expressly say NOT to do, yet a lot of people do do) I have to photocopy the document/form, and when I have 10 stamped forms I put them together in a batch to be scanned. That is it. Over and over again. It is not hard. It is not even interesting. It's quite possibly the most boring thing I have ever done in my entire life. It does seem like all the jobs in our team are pretty boring, but at least other people get to switch it up a bit - do a bit of batching, a bit of scanning etc. I just get to do the same type of batching all day long. I want to hurt someone. Specifically the superviser as she is a very strange and nosey woman. Oh, and did I mention I don't get a security pass? Yep. I am supposed to be working there for a month but I don't get a pass, so I have to knock on the door each morning to be let in. I can't even go to the toilet as you need a pass to get through the door to that, I would have to get the receptionist to let me in, and then let me back into the office. It is ridiculous and I hate it. I am considering writing to my agency and telling them so. Probably not that I hate it, but that I find it unsuitable (I did not do 5 years at university for this) and want a job that uses my skills and challenges me. I really don't know how I can cope with a month of it.

Today though I had an interview for a part-time bar/waiting staff, which could be good. Strangely the interviewer just asked questions about my availability, rather than my experience or anything, which didn't really give me the opportunity to shine. She seemed to like me, however she did mention they'd received over 150 CVs and that she'd been interviewing all day, so I'm not holding out much hope really. I would rather like the job though.

Oh, and this weekend K and I are off to London! We booked the tickets in December through a special deal in the East Coast line's e-newsletter. £8 each, each way. Not bad at all! And through you can get vouchers for 2 for 1 entry to loads of attractions, providing you have a train ticket to London. Yes it is Valentine's weekend, so I suppose that's what we're doing for it. I'm really looking forward to it though, a chance to escape for a bit. And while I'm down there I have an interview for an internship with a public affairs firm. I'm not certain I'd have got an interview had I applied the usual way, a colleague of my dad's knows the director and recommended me, but I wasn't going to pass up the opportunity. So fingers crossed for that too!

Anyway, I have a mountain of dirty washing to do and really ought to get round to it if I want to be able to wear anything nice at the weekend. Tata for now!

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Sunshine on a Rainy Day...

I've been good recently, honest. I have actually been making a proper effort to job hunt. Not that I wasn't making an effort before, but I've been really trying and opening up my avenues recently. And just generally I've been good in that I made a to-do list and have actually been ticking it off!

It is most depressing when you have spent years studying hard for a degree only to graduate at the worst point in the job market for 30 years. Graduate jobs? What are they? They don't seem to exist, or on the rare occassion that they do they have hundreds of applicants and end up going to people who have much more experience than a graduate (and thus probably graduated several years ago). It is not fair. I've heard from others that they've even been turned down for jobs aimed at those leaving school with a handful of Standard Grades (or GCSEs for my English readers) because they are 'over-qualified'. So what am I meant to do? It shouldn't be this hard!

There are a couple of jobs I've applied to, albeit fairly casual part-time work, but this is better than applying to no jobs. It would be nice if they could at least get back to you though. I've also written to a charity enquiring about volunteering with them and am in the process of filling out the fairly detailed form for volunteering with Citizens Advice Scotland. Whilst I would rather be paid for working and I getting very bored just sitting around all day and want some purpose in my day, so volunteering seems ideal - providing I can get something that interests me and will be useful experience.

For the rest of the week I'm back at NHS Health Scotland doing front-of-house/reception work for them. I've done it before and it's pretty easy, although I do resent the fact that the receptionist has to empty the dishwasher in the morning and turn it on again last thing - receptionists are not cleaners. Still, this is money that I wouldn't otherwise be earning which is particularly useful when I have a 'romantic' Valentine's weekend coming up and there are clothes I want from ASOS. I've spent my wage before I've even earnt it, oops! There is also the possibility that I could get to work reception for NHS Health Scotland until the end of May, starting mid February, because the current temp is going off on maternity leave. I'm worried that if I take this that I won't be considered for any positions that come to the agency which I'd be better suited for (or that I actually want to do). Hopefully SOMETHING good comes up eventually! I'm bored of admin and reception, and even more bored of being put forward for positions that I am woefully inexperienced for.

At least I am doing something about it though, and I will definitely keep it up. Fingers crossed something comes along soon!