I’ve been invited to a party at Buckingham Palace!

Nope this is not click bait. Yes, I HAVE been invited to a party at Buckingham Palace, in fact I have been invited to a Garden Party to celebrate HRH The Prince of Wales 70th Birthday. The party I am going to is on the 22nd May 2018 and is just 3 days after the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Yes, I KNOW.

I know what you are thinking, “How does one get invited to a Royal birthday party?”. Well as you might know by now, I work for The Prince’s Trust, which is a charity that was started by HRH in 1976. He is the president and often pops up at important functions and things. All the staff were told earlier this year that HRH was having a celebratory garden party as part of his birthday celebrations (his actual birthday is in November) and that the Trust had been allocated 200 invitations. Staff had nominate people, including any one of the 1,000 people that work for the trust, also including any of the hundreds of delivery partner staff and 1,000s of volunteers. Basically, I had no chance.

But, as it turns out, someone DID nominate me and a few of my colleagues and we all got an email about a month ago to invite us along. I. AM. THRILLED.

I have to be honest though, this isn’t my first Royal Garden Party, as I went to one in 2016 which celebrated The Prince’s Trust’s 40th Anniversary. It was an amazing day as I was surrounded by celebrities and my head was constantly on a swivel. Glorious.

What is going to be cool is that I am going down the day before and staying at the Hub at Covent Garden which is a Premier Inn and not very far from both London Euston Station and Buckingham Palace. It’s not exorbitantly expensive for London at £140 and it was a little pressie to myself after my PPI payout. 🙂

I am also really pleased as a little gang of us are going from the Team I was working with at the beginning of the year. They all work for The Trust and live and work all around the UK. They are the loveliest bunch of smashers you could ever meet and I am SO looking forward to seeing them all again. I feel so honoured to have been invited – twice in 2 years, what a lucky girl I am!

So I need an outfit (obviously) and a hat or fascinator. I think I can see a little shopping trip in my near future!!! Happy days.

G x

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Ok, last week, back to London

This week is going to be a big final week for me, as I go tripped the light fandango, back to London. Since October last year I have been working on a special project at work, a promotion actually with lots of responsibility and, if I am being honest, more money. However, the whole thing is coming to and end on Friday as my part in the project draws to a close.

So this week I am spending the day in Liverpool on Monday, then getting the train from Lime Street Station down to London, but I am actually, in the middle of everything, volunteering at another Prince’s Trust event called The Prince’s Trust Awards.


The awards have been running for a few years and was previously called Celebrate Success. It’s an awards ceremony that this year is being held at The London Palladium. It’s real fancy event, which is hosted by Ant & Dec, yes really, and it’s attended by The Prince’s Trust president, HRH The Prince of Wales. Like I said fancy.

This year though, I am doing something SOO exciting. as I am actually volunteering for The Prince’s Trust digital team and working the event. I have been a few times before as a guest, but I am really looking forward to being involved in the behind the scenes aspect. I have to say a huge sparkly thank you to lovely Jess A for the opportunity – what a cool thing to be offered.

I won’t be able to vlog on the day, but I am expecting it to be a fab day which really celebrates the amazing work the trust does and of course our amazing young people.

Speaking of which,  I am extra pleased as in my substantive role I looked after the Team Programme run in Chorley and I mentored the Team Leader to nominate a young man called Jack for our Breakthrough Award. He won the regional final in November in Liverpool and, would you believe it, he has only gone and own the national award. I am so pleased for him and I can’t wait to see him pick his award up and meet HRH!

So even after all that, I ‘ve a little more time in London then, by the end of the week, I will be done! How time flies. I’ve loved every minute of this secondment. Don’t get me wrong, it’s been hard being away from home  at times, but it’s been so interesting and I am now a fully fledged Travelodge/Premier Inn connoisseur.

I wonder what on earth will come next? I guess you will just have to watch this space. How exciting.

G x

 

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My week in Salford (and lovely things to come)

As you know I have been working away in London for the last 5 weeks trying to get my head around a new computer system in order to train hundreds of Prince’s Trust staff how to use it. Well this week, that training started in earnest when I trained some of our staff alongside the lovely Laura from Dundee. I had the first day jitters initially, but by the second day they settled down and we ended up having a really good couple of days.

I have been doing IT Training for about 15 years on and off, but this is the first time I have ever trained people on a system I didn’t know inside out. But the fact that it seemed to go ok and the feedback was good, has given me so much confident that I feel good about the sessions I am doing solo next week.

Actually, next week sees me going to Leicester for the week and as I have never been I am interested to see what it’s like. I am going on my own, which means 4 x nights in the Ibis Leicester, but I am back on Thursday night so it’s not too bad.

Also, this weekend is our last “free” weekend before the Christmas hoopla kicks in.. namely:

So lots to look forward to and I think that this weekend I might pick up my vlogging camera. I have really neglected my YouTube Channel over the last couple of months due to work things but as Christmas approaches and VLOGMAS tickles my creativity – I think it’s time to start filming.

Happy days!

G x

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I’m done with London! | London  | Week 5

That’s it then, I am done with London! This final week was an extension to the original 4 and it really marks the start of the next phase. I have been learning a new computer system whilst I have been down South and from next week, I have the enormous task of training all our NW staff – it’s going to be fine *blinks very fast whilst nodding*.

But seriously, we had a great last week, still learning lots and trying to wrap our heads around lots of technical information. On Wednesday, I suggested to everyone that we all go out for dinner on our final night together, so we all went to Pizza Express Finsbury Circus and had a really good laugh telling stories and blowing off some steam.

As a non drinker and after a fab few hours,  I waved everyone off to the pub, whilst I actually went back to my hotel for a kip. The following day it was hilarious to hear that some of my colleagues had let off more steam than others…but we don’t need to talk about the photo that was taken in the middle of the road, in the middle of the night. My lips are sealed. 😜

It was bittersweet to leave as I am not a city girl at heart, but I’ve really enjoyed the experience and the challenge of travelling solo and staying in our capital city. The tube no longer daunts me at rush hour and I have 100% mastered how to take a wheelie case on and off escalators and trains without stopping  or missing a step. I rule!

Over the next few months I am training staff in Salford, Leicester and Birmingham, so watch this space to see how I get on!

G x

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I Had a Wobble | London | Week 4

Week 4 in London has been a little tougher than previous weeks for a few reasons and I have to tell you that on Wednesday night, I had a little cry. Let me explain.

I am working on a project that is very time sensitive and even though I am working with a lovely group of people, we are under pressure to deliver training to over 900 staff in a short period of time. I have got SO much information to get my head around that at times I need a moment. I have to say that overall, I think it’s going well in that as each week goes by, I feel more comfortable with all the new info, but it’s very intense.

This week has been a little tougher as we went straight into pilot sessions for delivery and even though this went well and there were some friendly faces, it’s tiring as I feel like we were fully concentrating the entire day. On both Monday and Tuesday evening I had prep to do for the following day and so on Wednesday night when I had nothing to do, I floundered a little. I had been basically going Travelodge>Work>Travelodge for 2 ½ days and so with a night on my own stretching before me, I was just bumbling around my hotel room, wishing I had made better plans.

I think on Wednesday, the city was grinding on me a bit and quite honestly I think it dawned on me that in that moment that I missed home. M was at his running group and so when I thought he would be back, I asked him to FaceTime me. FaceTime doesn’t work that great, but even just seeing his gorgeous face for a minute made me burst into tears. I just had a cry for 5 minutes which honestly gave me the relief I needed and after a brilliant chat with M, I felt 100% better. He reassured me and said all the right things to make me feel better and carry on kicking ass!

I don’t think it helped that the previous night I didn’t sleep that well and I was tired. And I need my sleep.

4am accidental photo

Thankfully my wobble didn’t last long and he had me laughing before the end of our call – thank god! I have one more week in London and then not too much travelling after that. I have the odd away weeks in Leicester or Birmingham, but I will think about that a bit nearer the time!

But even though my week was a bit harder, I did have a good week. I achieved lots and the work thing is going ok. My view from my hotel room showed the lights of the city and seeing M on Thursday night when he picked me up from the station made me feel so loved, that I could have burst! I loved him even more when he suggested a Nandos. He know’s me too well 💜 G x

Morning London!!

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<< See Week 3

>>See Week 5

 

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Les Miserable is an actual joy! | London | Week 3

Week 3 in London done! Breaking news is that my stay has been extended by another week. I don’t mind too much, I think because I know it’s not forever, that I am more able to cope with it.

This week was VERY special as my very lovely husband paid for me to go and see my most favourite musical, Les Miserable. So on Tuesday, I made my way across London and visited the Queen’s Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue. The performance was SOOOOO amazing and much more than I even expected. The revolving stage, the barricades and the exceptional performances from all the actors was just breathtaking. I cried like a baby and the only thing missing was my Michael, who is the most generous and kind man ever. Thank you Michael, a little bucket list thing ticked off. 💗

I worked VERY hard all week and on Wednesday evening, I needed a moment of calm, which oddly enough, I found in Marks & Spencer! M&S is a very familiar place to me as we have a massive one quite close to home. Oddly, the bras, knickers and general surroundings made me feel sort of “at home” so I treated myself to a new bra and felt better for it. Being in the capital and in such a busy city is such an alien thing for me and can be overwhelming at times. When I leave my hotel in a morning, it’s like joining a high speed motorway rather than stepping out onto the pavement. The pace of the people borders on manic and it does take some getting used to. But my hotel is nice and the team I am working with are all in the same position and super supportive.

So 2 more weeks in London and then the fun really begins. Aarrgh.

G x

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>> See Week 4

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I made it to London Bridge | London | Week 2

So I have made it through another week in London. This was week 2 of 4 and in case you haven’t already seen it, go and have a look at last week’s post!

This week was really full on, just like last week with us trying our best to learn the complicated new system that we have to show staff how to use. I have to be honest, my brain was a little fried by the end of the week and I was SHATTERED when I got home.

However, the highlight of my week was a personal victory of mine in that I managed to walk to London Bridge from my hotel (over a mile) without getting lost!! Now this might not seem like a massive deal to you, but I have got NO sense of direction and was just THRILLED to make it there and back without too much bother!

I have to say though, it’s not exactly relaxing walking through central London as the sheer amount of people walking at you in all directions is an assault on the senses. The route I took walked past many cafes, restaurants and pubs and I had to weave in and out of crowds of smokers blocking pavements, all the while trying not to breathe in the smoke. Yuk.

I have been thinking that I might try to find a pub to walk round, but as the clocks go back this weekend, the evenings will get dark very quickly and I am not sure a park at night is ideal. Someone I am working with suggested that I go to something called SkyGarden, apparently it’s free and gives a panoramic view of London. So come back next week to see if I manage to go.

Also this week, my evenings where pretty low-key as everyone kind of did their own thing, with most people feeling tired and just wanting to chill out in the evening. I did have fun one night when my youngest niece face timed me as it was her birthday 🙂 Let me tell you though, having a video call with an 8-year-old is hilarious as she whizzed the phone left and right, I almost got motion sickness! She was just too giddy to show me everything she had got for her birthday, it was very cute.

It is also very funny how quickly I have settled into a routine, getting up for breakfast at around 7:20am and being back in my room for 8:00am. Putting my stuff in more or less the same place in the room. All these things make me feel a little more grounded and “at home”. I’ve got 2 more weeks in London and then we start showing PT staff how to use the new system. It’s a huge task, which is quite pressurised, but it will be worth it in the end.

Bring on Week 3 I say!

G x

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Staying in London | London | Week 1

Before I start, let’s catch you up.

  1. I work for The Prince’s Trust
  2. Until last week, I worked on the Team Programme in the North West of England.
  3. Last week I started a 4 month secondment working as a Training Manager (still at PT).

Got it? then I will continue.

My new role involves being part of a small specialist team that is going to train 900 staff on a brand new multi-million pound system that is going to change the way we work. NO pressure at all then.

My week started last Monday (16th) when I caught the Virgin Pendolino from Warrington Bank Quay Station down to London Euston. I am quite lucky as even though this journey is approximately 260km as the crow flies, it only takes 2 hours on the superfast train. Result.

A little underground later and before I knew it was arriving at Moorfield Tube Station, a few minutes walk from Prince’s Trust House. Within the Trust this is our head office and is known as PTH – so on we go.

Prince’s Trust House

We spent our first morning, getting to know the new Training Team and actually delivered a 5 minute training session we had all been asking to prepare in advance. Mine was a session on how to create a chart in Excel and I thought it went quite well – Happy days. I did of course make a complete faux pas the minute I arrived, as I lost my security pass within MINUTES and subsequently has to pay a £10 fine. Good start Gill, good start.

Our team is made up of other Prince’s Trust secondees from around the UK, so it was great to meet them and fab to hear Welsh, Northern Irish, Scottish and English voices all in one room. We actually bonded quite quickly and it seems that we are all feeders and each day we were together, someone brought something in to nibble on and my Weight Watchers resolve was tested most days  (although I didn’t cave)

I was booked to stay in a Travelodge which was a short 7 minute walk from PTH and honestly the JOY of being able to walk to work every day was something else. My usual commute to the office is horrific as I live 21 miles away from work, which can take anything from 35 to 90 minutes on a bad day. The Travelodge itself was everything you would expect as a basic hotel but it was clean, my room was a decent size and the staff were friendly and helpful. Not sure what more I could ask for really.

One tip though, if you ever stay in the Travelodge on City Road in London, ask for a room NOT on City Road as they are much quieter! 🙂

As I was working in London Monday to Friday this week, I knew I would have to sort something out for our evening meal every night. Half of us were staying in the Travelodge and the other half of us were staying at  Premier Inn about 15 minutes away. It was funny actually, as I recognised that this whole process is a marathon, not a sprint and so I knew I would have to pace myself. Also most of the other people are much younger than me and so up for much more each night. But as it transpired the following happened:

Monday Night: We all went to Pizza Express
Tuesday Night: I went to the pub with 3 of the other peeps after work whilst most of the others went for a Curry on Brick Lane.
Wednesday Night: I went for a Chinese with 2 of the other peeps. Most people had a chill night.
Thursday: Almost everyone, except me and one other person went to “Ping Pong” social. I got some food from Tesco and had a room picnic!

 

We have got another 3 weeks training the trainer with everyone though, I am sure there will be lots of opportunities to do stuff. I actually was really nervous the night before I left for London but by the time I got there, I was fine.

I have been to London loads of times before, but only for the day or on holiday, I have never stayed for work, so this whole thing is an adventure. In a way, I wish I could film my short commute in a morning to show M just HOW many people I pass. Everyone walks at “Race Pace” in London, yet no-one looks where they are going! Everyone  is on their phone so you hear almost every language possible within every 5 minute walk. It’s a world away from Newton-le-Willows.



My week finished with a mad dash across London as Moorfield Tube Station was closed and I had to literally run with a colleague to Liverpool Street in order to find another way back to Euston. We did make it on time thankfully and I have never been more pleased that I got a sneaky 1st class ticket. And relaxxx.

Week 1 done and another 3 to go. Can’t wait.

G x

>>See Week 2

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