Warmer Homes Animation

Wot?  No posts for months and then two in one day?  Yep, I know, but I just had to post the little animation we made for the project I’ve been working on…..


Posted in Random stuff | 5 Comments

Job Hunt – Part IV

So, I had a lovely little project to run which saw me through February, March and April and even paid me a good wage…. but now I’m back on the street again :-(  AND, it’s looking increasingly like I’m unemployable – OK, I haven’t been trying for too long – 5 or so months to be precise, but when a job comes up which seems to be a shoehorn fit and you don’t event get an interview, you have to start asking questions and, if I’m honest the questions are pretty obvious:

  • have I taken too long out to be considered a viable prospect (7 years “off” (ha) being a parent)
  • am I too old at 46?
  • is my CV too “interesting” for the British blue chip marketplace?  (20 years of work ranging from teaching English in France and Thailand, running ski resort programmes for British tour companies, fundraising in the City of London for a huge charity (with a target (which I met) of £500,000 per year) and finally working as an analyst, consultant and corporate strategist in the US, Canada and NZ.)

Without seeing my CV it’s obviously difficult to judge the last point, but do age and time out effect the way employers look at you.   I have no idea, but I know that from where I’m sitting it looks like certainly they might be effecting my chances.  Kinda tricky since neither of them are things I can do anything about, can’t do much about the CV either come to think of it (apart from a bit of creativity in how I describe stuff).

So anyway, I haven’t given up on the prospect of getting myself employed and I am continuing to fire off the ‘ole CV and keep my ear to the ground but at the same time I’m back on the road of creating myself a job again.    Anyone got any great ideas?  In my next post I’ll share a few of mine ;-)

Posted in Job Hunt | Tagged | 5 Comments

A Shameless Plug

Warmer Homes WeekendAnyone who follows this blog even on a very irregular basis will have noticed that I have been somewhat absent for the past couple of months.  During that time I’ve discovered that blogging and work don’t really mix….. certainly not the kind of work that I tend to do which is 24/7 committment!  Anyhow, just in case there are any readers out there who are in the Yorkshire/Lancashire regions, this is a shameless plug for the project I’ve been managing.

It’s all about saving you money, Marsden and Slaithwaite Transition Towns have been co-ordinating a government project to investigate how we can best make the cold draughty terraced housing of the Colne Valley more energy efficient.  Green Building Store have done much of the investigation work for us and their leaflet explaining what they have done can be found here.  Many of our findings are relevant to a lot of houses, but particularly those with solid walls.  We’ll be showing off what we’ve been up to in the form of the Warmer Homes Weekend in the Civic Hall in Slaithwaite on Saturday the 24th and Sunday the 25th of March (2012 (in case I forget to take this down afterwards)).  There will be plenty of stuff for kids to do – with an energy bike, solar toys and a quiz and grown ups will be able to ask real experts about what they can do to save energy in their homes.  The MASTT Cosy Homes team have lots of lovely free givaways to get rid of too.  The full programme of events can be found on the Warmer Homes website, do take a look.  And if you’re in the vicinity, do pop in and ask for me – it’s always nice to meet people who know you on-line ;-)

Posted in Environment, Job Hunt | Tagged , | Leave a comment

I am a human being… no really – Job Hunt Part III


A real live human being

Really, I mean, this is me….. right here —–>

I live, I breathe, I cook, I clean (very occasionally, though I don’t iron) Continue reading

Posted in Job Hunt | Tagged | 5 Comments

Live entertainment, Public Transport and Magic

This one is about last weekend, but this week has been manic and I started writing it last Sunday, and it’s worth putting into writing anyway, so here goes:

We have had a magical weekend. Loads of music, the awesomeness of live theatre with kids and lots of other stuff in between. Continue reading

Posted in Family Life | Tagged | Leave a comment

Flexi Mum – Job Hunt Part II

The inner workings of timeThe New Economics Foundation has just released a report stating that we should move towards a 21 hour work week.  ”Fantastic” is the buzz on Facebook, after all, who wants to work any more than they need to and 20 hours sounds like plenty. The report is interesting and does include a little on how we might transition to this way of working.  At first I had all kinds of “but, but, but” thoughts in my head, now though, I’m coming to see a way through the quagmire.  You see, my work is something that doesn’t really translate into a part time job AND I’m going to have to do it in conjunction (to some extent) with my other job as a mum….. which is something all of us parents have to do.

The other day I wrote about starting to look for a job and how to write a parenting CV. As I’ve been ringing round recruiters in my field (IT), the word on the street is that I’ll have to go back full time, at least at first.  To be honest, this comes as absolutely no surprise whatsoever.   Projects are usually short term and it’s all hands on deck to get things done in the time allocated (they rarely come in on time or to budget, but that’s a whole other story).  A shorter working week is sometimes achievable by working at home for a bit of the week or occasionally once you’ve made yourself an invaluable part of a team by negotiating shorter hours…. but you have to prove yourself first. So, how would the 21 hour week work in practice?  I don’t see employers introducing much flexibility when it comes to employment options.  They’re certainly not falling over themselves to fit into the working mum or dad’s lives.  I think there is an alternative and it’s one which might work very well for parents, indeed it’s one which is already in operation to some extent in some parts of Europe.

Have you ever set out on holiday to France during the first weekend of August?  How long did you sit in traffic going round the peripherique?  a few hours, half a day, 24 hours…. I’d hazard a well educated guess that you’d spend a good half day at least, just getting past Paris.  You see, most of the French (unless you’re in the holiday trade) take their summer holidays in August – and many people have the whole of August off.  This is partly because of the weather (too hot to work…. oh that we could rely on that here!) and partly because in industry it often makes sense to shut down a factory for an extended period rather than run it on reduced output for the same period.

One of my options in the workplace is contracting.  This will mean intensive bouts of work where I might sometimes be away from home and/or working all hours that god gives to see deadlines reached BUT it might also mean that I’ll be able to take the summer off.  We don’t have any family childcare so it’ll mean rejigging the way the whole family works….. but again, that’s a whole other post too.  Contracting is currently only available to people in some jobs and clearly there are some jobs for which it won’t work at all and others where it might work for some people.  Mostly, people on contracts earn more per day/month/year than their equivalents in full time permanent employment.  This is to account for the instability of the job and the cost of doing it (most contractors are self employed).

Many of us mums work this way already…. we call it freelancing, and the blogosphere is a prime example of a place where freelancing can work very well.  There’s also an option in blogland to make your blog earn a bit for you – using adsense, affiliate marketing, writing ebooks, running courses and the like.  Once we’ve learnt a bit about blogging then perhaps we stand a chance of setting up separate money making blogs or perhaps we become well enough known to be asked to do paid work for blogging networks and so on….. see Mammasaurus’s blog for a bit of discussion on whether and how bloggers might be paid.  The bottom line though is that if we’re wanting to make money out of blogging you have to be inventive in the ways you do it…. it’s possible, but it’s not an easy option.

I reckon the future’s bright, the future’s varied ….. if we want it to be, and if we make it that way.  I’m excited about my job hunting/job creation in 2012…. and I’ll keep you posted on how I get on.  Ideally I’ll be working a 20 hour week, but it might be that I do bouts of intensive work over the year and then take the summer off…. ideal!  A 20 hour average would suit me fine ;-)

Find the first in my Job Hunt series at Job Hunt I – A parenting CV

Posted in Job Hunt | Tagged , | 2 Comments

A Parenting CV

So, how do you get back into work after 7 years out?  Any suggestions on a postcard please.  There’s a great post about the skills of mums on From Fun to Mum’s blog Are Employers Missing a Trick?….. yes, of course they are.  Mums are fantastic, we have so much to offer, AND I’m convinced we have more to offer after we’ve become mums than we did BC (Before Children).

I’m also convinced that many of us lose confidence in our employability and don’t sell these new skills at all well.  I’ve added a section to my CV which covers my parenting experience.  Here’s a bit of what it says:

“For the past seven years I have been working at home bringing up two young boys.  During this time I’ve become a great multi-tasker and have developed a degree of patience I never thought possible.  I have also:

  • Worked with the local transition towns to promote sustainability in the community.
  • Become a Neuro Linguistic Programming  (NLP) Practitioner.
  • Run a number of events including a large fundraising craft fair and pop up café.
  • Worked on formulating and running the social media strategy for a large festival.
  • Learnt the ins and outs of Twitter and Facebook for promotional purposes and built a number of websites in WordPress and other flash platforms.”

(Bear in mind I’ve been out for 7 years).  I’ve been talking to recruiters and all of them have said they really like this section because it shows that I’ve not turned into a total nappybrain (I have, but they don’t need to know that).  The upshot is, that if you’ve started a blog, become a school governor or joined the PTA, organised a cake sale for the WI or started a new hobby…. let potential employers know… shout it out.  If you haven’t, then it might be worth considering doing something so that you can look like you’ve been doing something.

Now, to the nub of the matter, my CV hasn’t got me a job yet – so far I’ve been looking for two weeks and let’s face it, the week commencing the 25th December probably wasn’t the most likely week to get employed in .  I’m not expecting to breeze back into employment, I’m not even necessarily expecting to get into employment at all BUT I’m bored and we’re skint, so what I AM expecting is that by the end of this year I will be making some dosh somehow.

I’ll be recording my efforts here and I’d love to hear from any of the rest of you who are looking for a job or starting your own business.  Like “From Fun to Mum” I’m not sure that I’m an entrepreneur, but I’m going to be looking at ways to make money on line at the same time as I look for employment.  It’ll be interesting to see which one wins at the end of the day…. or at least by the end of the year.


Posted in Family Life, Random stuff | Tagged , | 8 Comments

My New Year’s Hopes and Dreams

1.What would you like your biggest achievement to be in 2012?  By the end of this year I will be the owner of a successful business.

2.What would you be most happy about completing in 2012?  I’ll have completed one of the books I’ve started, but I’m not committing to which one!

3.What major indulgence are you willing to experience in 2012?  Hmmmm, “willing to experience” wierd wording!…… a super expensive ski holiday in Zermatt would be good!

4.What do you need to let go of going into 2012?  Not going there on here, but I do know what my answer is.

5.What are you looking forward to learning in 2012?  More NLP.  I will have completed NLP Master Practitioner by mid 2012.

6.What do you think your biggest risk will be in 2012? Very tricky….. the nature of risk is often that you don’t know about it ’til you’re half way through or at least right up against it.  I’m not seeing much risk out there at the moment unless I view it from a different standpoint, namely, the risk that hubby will lose one of his jobs (nurse with the NHS).  As far as risks that I will take – I hope to take some/many, but I really can’t identify them at the moment.

7.What about your work are you most committed to changing and improving in 2012?  Getting back into earning one way or another – this is the subject of a whole other post…. coming soon to a screen near you.

8.What is the one as yet undeveloped talent you are willing to explore in 2012? Coaching and asking people to pay for it!!!!  Lots of success with people for free – I’ve got other people’s careers up and running…. just need to do it for myself now!

9.What brings you the most joy and how are you going to do or have more of that in 2012?  The kids of course, can never get enough of them…. well, most of the time. (Except when they go off to grandma’s for the weekend and I get a w/e to myself – and that is fabulous too.)

10.What is the major effort you are planning to improve your financial results in 2012?  See 8.

11.Who or what are you most committed to loving and serving in 2012?   See 9 + hubby…. not sure about the serving thing though….

12.What one word would you like to have as your theme in 2012?

Posted in NLP, Random stuff | Leave a comment

New Year hopes and dreams

To put a different spin on New Year’s Resolutions, here are some questions to stimulate your thinking.  I’m going to mull over them for 24 hours and post my answers tomorrow.  I’ll leave them with you and maybe tomorrow (or some time soon), you can pop back and let me know if they’ve helped you clarify what you want to achieve in 2012.

1.What would you like your biggest achievement to be in 2012?
2.What would you be most happy about completing in 2012?
3.What major indulgence are you willing to experience in 2012?
4.What do you need to let go of going into 2012?
5.What are you looking forward to learning in 2012?
6.What do you think your biggest risk will be in 2012?
7.What about your work are you most committed to changing and improving in 2012?
8.What is one as yet undeveloped talent you are willing to explore in 2012?
9.What brings you the most joy and how are you going to do or have more of that in 2012?
10.What is the major effort you are planning to improve your financial results in 2012?
11.Who or what are you most committed to loving and serving in 2012?
12.What one word would you like to have as your theme in 2012?

For other thought provoking questions you might like to look at my posts on here and here.

Posted in NLP, Random stuff | Tagged , | 1 Comment

How bad are bananas?

One of my Christmas reads has been Mike Berners-Lee’s How Bad Are Bananas?: The carbon footprint of everything a riveting Christmas read if ever there was one…… I shit you not!  It’s absolutely fascinating and I’ve been looking for a book on this subject for ages.  Basically it gives you a back-of-a-beermat calculation of the amount of carbon emitted by buying or doing certain things.

For example a 500ml bottle of water is responsible for 160g of emissions while a pint of tap water is 0.14g – should be a total no brainer for all of us.  A banana is 80g while a kilo of organic on the vine cherry tomatoes grown in the UK in March is a whopping 5okg!  In fact anything grown in a greenhouse is BAD, worse than shipping stuff from Kenya.

It comes to the rather lovely conclusions that washing up by hand is just as bad or worse than putting on the dishwasher (yay), and that we really shouldn’t bother our pretty little heads over how much loo paper we use.

On the downside there are some things that many of us like to do which are unremittingly BAD – no two ways about it, if we really want to consider ourselves environmentalists we really should be cutting them down and better still cutting them out completely….  two of the main ones are:

  • Eating/drinking anything to do with cows…. and eating most meat is up there with the direst of evils.  Bang goes my filet steak – though it transpires that a lump of cheddar is just as bad so many veggies don’t do much better.  Replacing meat with cheese just ain’t an environmental option.
  • Flying – not much of a surprise here really.  Clearly planes emit a shedload of bad shit, but the fact that they do so at altitude more than doubles the badness and guilt you should feel whenever you’re leaving on a jetplane.

The book’s not perfect – there are lots of things it doesn’t cover for example it doesn’t look in detail at different kinds of cheese (though soft is better than hard), and it doesn’t take account of fairtrade issues and the like – though often it does mention that you might like to factor these kinds of things into your decision making.

Mike Berners-Lee is the first to admit that many of his figures are based on a degree of guesswork and it’s clear that in many cases figures are very difficult to find.   Governments and businesses just don’t want to do research in this area – it’s not condusive to consumerism and don’t we just need a good dollop of spending to get the economy going?  Despite this, I recommend it highly as a guide to how you choose to live, particularly if you have an inkling that we are headed down a road to destruction and someone, somewhere needs to start putting on the brakes.  It might as well be you.

If you like this post AND you’re a bookworm, you might like some of my other suggestions, alternatively you might like some of my other eco posts: here’s one on Being Green and another on Bottled Water.

Posted in Environment | Tagged , , | 6 Comments