A Life In The Day Of…

I have had a complaint from Alice, and a really rude comment from someone who will remain nameless – you know who you are *Paddington Bear Hard Stare*, that my blog wants updating a bit more often. So as I haven’t been updating it for a while I thought I would do an epic-ish one for you all. I did one of these when I was at college, it is based on the Sunday Times column of the same title. Especially as my day has changed from when I lived in Portsmouth and will change when I move to live in Malvern East too, it will be interesting to compare them when I am settled.

As most of you know, I have moved back to live with my parents for a couple of months before I emigrate, this wasn’t an easy decision and people have been taking bets on when I would move back out again, but with two and a bit weeks to go, it is still good fun. They brought a sofa bed for me to sleep on downstairs, so that if Patrick comes down to stay he also now has somewhere other than the floor which was the only option before My alarm goes off at 5.45, Mum comes downstairs about a minute later as she goes in the bathroom first, when Mum appears I am usually still coming too, as most mornings the alarm yanks me out of sleep like a back tooth. Over three years of early starts, and they don’t get any easier. Most mornings I have really quite interesting bed-head, I looked like Donald Trump this morning, it’s a good gauge for how restless I have been in the night. I fold my quilt and put the pillows away, put the bed back together, usually watched by the cat, Dad toddles down, then I go up for my ‘ablutions’.

I put contact lenses in, clean my face and teeth and have a bath, get dressed, blow dry my hair (usually) and get back downstairs as Mum and Dad are finishing their breakfasts. I put my face on, if I am a bit slow in the morning sometimes it gets done on the train, most of the time I try and accessorise, but I am not a girly-girl and still don’t feel comfortable with decorating myself with earrings/necklaces etc. Becky at work is always perfectly turned out, and every day I wonder at how she does it.

Mum makes me a cup of tea when she does breakfast for her and Dad; she also puts some wheat free bread in the toaster for me, which I have with tahini and Marmite. Dan complained at Marmite, and we had Vegemite at home in Portsmouth; it being a taste of home for him, therefore when I get to Melbourne we are having Marmite! I chug my tea, usually standing up, grab my bag and run out the door.

Dad drives us both to the station, down the Avenue, three times a week we follow a cart collecting rubbish from the bins in town. We walk to the platform greeting the regular commuters and staff on the way. Being creatures of habit, we sit in the same seats, and the same people get on along the way, also sitting in the same seats. Kamila is usually our train host, where we buy a round of teas and coffees, usually by Horley as she is also as regular as clockwork too.

Being a commuter you live by clocks, being a PA I also live by a clock, my life can be so regimented it does resemble the Truman Show at times. We all sit on the train nattering away, life the universe and everything. We all went to The Ritz for tea in January, sitting at the top of the Palm Court we had a table for 8, had a whale of a time and ate and drank far too much. It gave us an excuse to dress up, something to look forward to after Christmas and will be a happy memory for years to come. There were 7 girls and Bernie, so we were Ladies What Lunched With Bernie for the afternoon.

I get off the train at East Croydon, cross to another platform and get on a train to London Bridge. This is where my life really resembles the Truman Show; the train arrives, I get off, the Gatwick Express comes in, I see the same lady with the really long, ratty hair in such bad condition I want to either throw intensive conditioner at her or more likely cut it off. I get shoved out the way by people charging to change platforms, while I walk to the train and 9 times out of 10 still get on the one everyone else ran for. If I don’t make it, there is another one 2 minutes later.

Sometimes I am lucky and get a seat on the train into London Bridge, most of the time I stand. By now I am plugged in to my iPod, I looked last night I have 5000 plus songs, but probably listen to about 300 over and over again. I have been listening to a lot of audio books just lately. Some have been novels, which I have enjoyed, but others have been books I have taken notes on. I have been on a bit of an epic journey this year; I have been taking great pains to improve myself mentally and physically. It has been interesting, hard work, sometimes hard to take, as I have been peeling layers away like an onion.

When I get to London Bridge there is the mad scramble through the ticket barriers, I then get to my favourite part of the day – and I get this bit twice! I walk across London Bridge, over the Thames to work, and get a peep at Tower Bridge. I love it, I love the building itself, I love HMS Belfast in front of it, I love the sky changing behind it and I love that tourists from all over the world come to London to look at it. It never ceases to amaze me that all the commuters charge across to work, missing everything, all the things that make being alive great in their hurry to get to work.

I work as a PA as most of you know, so I spend my life organising others. I move meetings around, book travel, make sure the boys know where they are meant to be, when and who they are meeting. I have two weeks left in the role and am busy training my replacement, but there are some big changes coming up at Gresham, some of which have only just started to be implemented. How this will have an impact on what was my role will be interesting, but unfortunately I won’t be there to see it. I work in a small office, for a small company only 40 people across three offices. The London office is the biggest, but we still only have 20 odd people based there.

On my desk there is always fruit, I drink gallons of water, fruit teas and hot water with lemon in through the day. I am watching what I am eating and drinking, and have just come off a month long detox, I have lost over a stone and am feeling better for it. I have had a couple of pairs of trousers taken in, my skin looks clearer, I have more energy and I am loving going up to the gym again. Although I gave blood last week which knocked me sideways so I haven’t been able to work as hard as I normally do for the last few sessions I have been up there.

During the day I answer calls, move meetings, organise lunches, travel and generally try and make the team’s life easier for them but fielding things off at the pass as they say. It is a good job and I will be sad to leave it, but there have been times when I have felt more than a bit of frustration with them. I am looking forward to my new role, whatever that may be.

For lunch I will have a salad, humus, falafel, vine leaves. I am pretty much 80-90% vegetarian now, and not really missing meat either. I am consciously trying to eat healthily, hence the burger with no bun as no wheat is a big thing for me. I haven’t had bread, pasta (except wheat free in both cases) or cake, biscuits and believe me there are lots of them in the office all the time for months and my waistline is testament to not eating it. The afternoon is more of the same, although each day is different and you never know what will happen from one hour to the next at times. You can start each day with a list of things to do, but never even cross one off as the day unfolds. Such is the life of a PA. Ellie asked me once, what do you do all day, and I gave her a blank look. You can’t really describe it, unless you do it.

In the afternoon I don’t really eat anything, even though I am always hungry in the morning, to the extent I eat breakfast either on the train or at my desk. By 12noon I am ready for lunch, and will usually have had some fruit mid-morning too; I feel a sense of achievement if I make it to 1pm. But in the afternoon, I can go from lunch time to supper in the evening without having anything. However, I always have a bag of mixed nuts in my handbag just in case…

At 5pm, I dash off to reverse my route across London Bridge, trying not to get squashed by cyclists, buses and cabs as I go. All 3 seem to think that amber, or even red, traffic lights are there to be ignored. Dad always used to walk us up to the front of a train whenever we went anywhere, so we’d have less to walk the other end, even now unless I know the exit of the station is halfway along the platform, I automatically walk to the front of the train. Coming into Eastbourne it does mean you get off and out the way of the herds too. I listen to music or more of the audio book I have been working through on the way home; sometimes I just watch the world go by. I am trying to imprint as much of England in my head as possible before I leave. I am going to miss (thank you Dean for asking me) ruins, stately homes and older homes and how green it is over here, I am sure there are a hundred and one other things that I will get there and think about, but it is the picture box England that I know I am going to miss most of all.

When I get into Eastbourne, if I haven’t asked Dad to come and meet me, I will walk back home. Mum will have started dinner, sometimes it’s ready when I get there, sometimes I take over, two week nights I go to the gym so will eat something on the train on the way home. I then come in get changed, grab my bag and go back out again. Either way whenever I am in, we spend a few minutes talking about our days, before I disappear out again. If I am at the gym, I beast myself on the bike for 20 minutes interval training, and then try to walk downstairs, when I get to Oz I will start up with weights again, but not now. I then try and heave myself out the sticky sports bra – boys, you are so lucky you have no idea. Before heaving myself into a swimming costume, I then swim a bit, kick a bit, chat a lot to Liz, we then have a steam or a sauna, or both, then hop in the Jacuzzi for 20 minutes simmering. Still chatting we get changed; we then go home, me listening to Stuart Maconie and Mark Radcliffe on Radio 2 on the way. Thank God for internet radio, the BBC I am really going to miss, although not BBC1’s ‘entertainment’ programmes, there really is some shite on TV.

I try and lay my clothes out the night before, depending on whether Mum and Dad have gone to be already, but I make sure my bag is ready to go, at 5.30am every minute you can stay in bed counts. I unfold the sofa bed, check my alarm is on, shoo the cat out the way and slip into Morpheus.

I should say that with the time zones permitting, Dan and I text each other, we call once a week and I will sit with MSN on at work talking to him when it is quiet. I have never wanted to see someone quite so much as I do my little Aussie. I know when I get to Melbourne airport, it is going to be a monumental moment in our lives; I am truly hoping we don’t cock it up. Having said that, the proposal still makes us laugh when we talk about it!

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