Sunday, July 26, 2015

The value of volunteering

After 30-odd years of working full-time, I have finally escaped and I am now a volunteer.

After a period of ill-health I finally left a well-paid but badly-suited line of work. I was damn good in my job but my heart was never in it. Never.

There were highlights and good points, of course. I have made some wonderful friends from my time working closely with them in an office environment. And I am proud to have supported and worked closely with some of the UK's most high-profile academic and medical Professors. 

But now, I no longer have to suffer sitting out the 9-5 under migraine-inducing flourescent lighting, trying to rise above petty office management politics, being line-managed by much younger, less experienced staff to within an inch of my life as I tried to support those I worked for. I could go on but there's no point. I'm out of it now. If you've ever worked in an office then you'll know what I mean.

As a volunteer, I can choose what I do. And I've followed my heart this time. I'm doing something which pleases me greatly and I'm learning stuff too - new stuff, fun stuff. There's no 9-5, no micro-management, no sleepless, stressful Sunday nights before another week of counting the hours until Friday comes.

My time is my own to do as much or as little as I wish. And in the time I have to myself, I can cycle, read. Best of all, I can write. I've written this book which will be published in October this year.

Of course, there's no money as a volunteer. But that's a very, very small price to pay to have the freedom to try, to experience, to learn, to discover, in a way that has never been possible in my paid working life.

Without cash coming in I've had to adjust. No more long weekends away, but they're not needed any more as there's no work stress to escape from. I've had to cut my cloth to suit and it's suiting me fine. How much stuff does one person need, anyway? The charity shop has become my friend.

And maybe, just maybe, with my new skills and fresh outlook on the world of work, I could end up in a nice part-time role somewhere too.

Learning new skills as a volunteer, and meeting new people has given me much more confidence than I could have known. I'm learning, I'm growing, I'm happy.

I am a volunteer.

You could be too - check out the national volunteering opportunities website.
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I'm on twitter @flaming_nora

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Corrie Weekly Update – why was the girl allowed?

I've been writing Coronation Street weekly updates since 1995 and this week's Coronation Street update has just gone live here.
This week on Corrie, the music died.
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I'm on twitter @flaming_nora

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The fruit bowl inventory

My fruit bowl shames me. It never has much, if any, fruit in it. That's not because I don't eat fruit, I do, but I tend to buy it and eat it rather than keep it in the house, if that makes sense. The fruit bowl therefore acts more like a drawer in a cupboard, full of stuff we need, or at least like to keep, at hand.  But still, the shame is there and so I've decided to share the shame of my fruit bowl with the internet and list its current inventory.

1 x Resident Access Permit for the Sunderland Air show this weekend.
1 x notepad on which I wrote this list
1 pair of binoculars
1 banana - hey, fruit!
1 apple - hey, fruit!
2 pairs of sunglasses
1 packet of spinach beet seeds
3 tubes of suncreen - two for body, one for face
1 Coronation Street eraser in the shape of the Rovers Return
1 small plastic bottle of anti-bacterial handwash (dumped in there after we returned from a festival)
1 packet Ibuprofen (for migraine)
1 glass and crystal ladybird on a leaf
1 pewter brooch in the shape of a flower
1 B&Q receipt
1 John Lewis receipt (I'm showing off now)
1 postcard from a relative in Japan with a picture of a Beatrix Potter animal on the front
1 pot containing pens, pencils, a ruler, a pair of cheap reading glasses
1 "thing" to make proggy mats with (I keep meaning to ring Beamish to see if they want it)
2 hand torches (from the last time we went to see Rocky Horror show; keeping them for the next)
2 elastic bands (small)
2 pieces of tiny sea glass (green)
1 mint in a wrapper (the type you get after a meal in an Italian restaurant)

But hey, there was fruit!
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I'm on twitter @flaming_nora

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Coronation Street Weekly Update – bold, strong and big-hearted

I've been writing Coronation Street weekly updates since 1995 and this week's Coronation Street update has just gone live here.



This week on Corrie, Deirdre Barlow's funeral took place and Coronation Street excelled itself with a wonderful send-off.
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I'm on twitter @flaming_nora

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Durham Miners Gala 2015

To Durham yesterday for the 131st annual Durham Miners' Gala.  More relevant than ever.

So many bands and banners that it took over 5 hours for them all to march into the field. 

A helluva day!

You can view all my pics on flickr.
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I'm on twitter @flaming_nora

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Official Coronation Street Deirdre Barlow book

Very proud and very honoured to have written the official ITV Coronation Street book all about Deirdre Barlow. 

It's called Deirdre: A Life on Coronation Street

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I'm on twitter @flaming_nora

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

London bombings - 10 years on

I originally wrote this blog post on the 4th anniversary of the London bombings in 2009 when I worked in London.  It's worth reposting.

On my way to work this morning, I walked through Russell Square Park just like I’ve done for almost every working day of the seven years I’ve lived in London. But this morning I took a different route through the park to stand by the oak tree planted as a memorial to those who lost their lives in the London bombings, four years ago to the day. 

I know how lucky I was that day. I know. I was one of thousands of Piccadilly line commuters who, if we’d left the house a couple of minutes earlier / later / hadn't stopped to buy a paper, could have been on the tube train which exploded between King's Cross and Russell Square tube stations. When I did eventually reach central London that morning, I then walked to work past Tavistock Square where the bomb on the bus exploded later that morning. I heard it from my office.

The memorial oak tree flourishes and grows and at 8.30am this morning there were already flowers laid at its base in memory. I stood in silence and thought about those who died, their families, before picking up my bag and walking on with a lump in my throat.

I have some horrible memories of the morning of July 7, 2005 which I won't write about here. However, my abiding memory comes from the day when the Piccadilly line reopened after many weeks of being closed after the attack. Only a handful of commuters went to work by tube on that first day. I forced myself to be one of them, despite how hard it was.  


I was one of only three people in the tube carriage all the way from north London to King's Cross. At King's Cross, my husband got off to go to work. He kissed me on the cheek and asked if I'd be ok. I said I would be. I had to be. The two remaining passengers in the carriage left King's Cross on the tube, we didn't look at each other. I got off at Russell Square station which was newly painted, scrubbed sterile, and took the lift up to the ticket hall.

With me in the lift were only half a dozen or so commuters. Two were in tears, another was being comforted by a Transport for London worker and it was obvious from their tearful conversation that the passenger was the parent of a young person who had died in the blast. We all rode the six storeys together in the lift, some of us holding back sobs, some openly weeping.

The lift doors opened, we turned the corner to head through to the ticket hall only to be met by a barrage of television cameras and a large, booming member of the Metropolitan police urging us: “Come on, ladies and gentlemen, big smiles for the cameras! Big smiles, you’re on TV! Come on, ladies and gents, let’s see those smiles!”

None of us smiled.

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I'm on twitter @flaming_nora
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