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"To see a world in a grain of sand, And a heaven in a wild flower; Hold infinity in the palm of your hand, And eternity in an hour." William Blake


Sunday Uncertainty

November 12th, 2006 by sunflowers

On Friday one of our sales managers said that the managing director of the client that was looking for a project manager wanted to meet up with me. Seeing as how my bike is going into the container on Monday I decided to give them a ring. I talked to one of their managers and it turns out that they are looking for an IT project manager to oversee a total revamp the the companies entire IT set up. It would be an amazing opportunity and is my dream job. In fact when they went through the position I wondered if I would even get it as those type of roles tend to go to people with a lot more experience than I have. Still they did say that they were impressed by my CV. Maybe all those years of studying part time for my MBA endorsed in technology management have finally paid off.

I have spent the last few days going through all the pros and cons of delaying my trip. As much as I would love to get this position I am also pretty psyched up for my trip and all the cool things I am going to get to do on it. Part of me wonders if I am suppose to get the job seeing as how even though the children’s charity was going to do a press release three months before I went and it is now less than three weeks before and I can’t even get a hold of them about it. But I also don’t want to get my hopes up about the job in case they decide for some reason I am unsuitable for the role. I have an interview with them on Monday so I guess I will just have to wait and see and in the meantime keep on plugging through my never ending list of tasks to do before I go.

I just got a text from my mate and he has managed to get us front row seat tickets for the premier of the new Bond movie in Leicester Square. Apparently they are doing up the whole square for it and the queen might be going. I wonder if she will be in the front row as well? Even if the queen isn’t going I am still going to get the chance to wear my black satin full length skirt and corseted top with long black gloves which isn’t an opportunity that I would pass up on.

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Jacket and Trousers

November 11th, 2006 by sunflowers

Less than three weeks to go and I haven’t bought my bike gear yet. Today I went into Hein Gericke to look at their Tuareg Trail jacket and matching trousers. I then walked over to BMW as I have come across their Venting Machine Suit on the web which is available in a women’s cut. I like the HG Tuareg but the jacket doesn’t make allowance for having hips. I got to BMW at 14:00 and it turns out that they had closed at 13:00 so my mate came and picked me up and we went to a bed shop to pick up the legs I had ordered for my bed to lower it from it’s four foot high height to standard height so I can rent out my room while I am away.

I should have spent the rest of the day sorting out my stuff but instead ended up sleeping the evening away as I went out with my colleagues on Friday night and after quite a few drinks ended up at a gay Thai restaurant where we paid for one of our male colleagues to be dressed up in a dress, high heels and wig. It was actually once of the best nights out I have had in ages as maybe since everyone knows I am leaving it seemed they were all going out of their way to bolster my confidence which was really nice.

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Camera and Clientele

November 10th, 2006 by sunflowers

On Thursday night I went straight from the airport to see my mates band The Clientele play at the Splitz. I took my camera as I wanted to get a little video of them playing to put up on the site as I think they are a very cool band and I am hoping when I get to LA in April to meet up with them and spend a couple of days with them on tour. Unfortunately when I went to put up the video I realised I must have also managed to lose my camera that night as I can’t find it anywhere so I will bike down there and see if it was turned in. If you do want to hear the band you can hear them on their myspace site (www.myspace.com/theclienteleofficial) where they are described as dreamy folk-pop, shimmering psych guitars and string arrangements.

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Thank you Mary

November 9th, 2006 by sunflowers

A fellow traveller Brian, who is currently motor biking with his girlfriend Fie from the UK to Thailand (see trailsoftheunexpected), knowing my fears about my trip emailed the contact details of Mary who he had met up and travelled with for part of her motorcycling odyssey through Central and South America.

Last night Mary was kind enough to give up 1 hour and 48 minutes of her time while we talked about her experiences over the phone. It was brilliant! She travelled for a 1 year and 9 months after buying a bike in California. When she went out there she had only just gotten her license and as she put it, she wobbled her way around Latin America. She only had two accidents where she came off her bike a bit battered and bruised mainly from going too fast in unfamiliar terrain (sand) but was basically ok.

My biggest fear about this trip is my motorcycling ability and Thumper breaking down (btw I have renamed my bike from Tractor to Thumper. Now that the carburettor manifold is fixed it doesn’t sound quite so tractorish. Also I think that a single cylinder motorcycle is called a thumper, the name reminds me of Bambi’s best friend and gives my bike a much more get up and go name. Someone that rides a bike that is air cooled like mine is called an Air Head but I don’t think that I want that as a nickname. Air Head Annette isn’t really how I view myself). Mary was riding a brand new F650 GS and her only mechanical problem was fixed under warrantee. This is where we differ (Thumper being 12 years old and having broken down repeatable) but as I have learnt from my bike problems it is a good way of learning about your bike. The small amount of motorcycle maintenance I have done and taking my manual will come in handy.

The best news was that Mary never had a puncture in the 38,000 miles that she did and regardless of the age of the bike a tyre is a tyre!

Sunrise from Plane to DublinOn a personal level Mary said that even as a blue eyed fair haired female travelling alone that she never experienced any serious harassment and felt that people in Latin America were much more polite than in the UK where we seem to have lost a bit of respect and consideration for our fellow humans. And that Latin men would view it as shameful to yell at females in public and gave an example of a police man shouting at her to move her bike and was majorly embarrassed when he realised that she was female and ended up helping her move it when he did realise she wasn’t a bloke.

The only thing she had nicked was her tank bag when accidentally leaving it on the bike (would happen anywhere) and while in Mexico she wasn’t even locking her panniers to her bike.

My second biggest fear is getting lonely. Mary said that for the first two weeks of the trip she was having serious doubts about whether she had made the right decision and at the start staring down a long highway, miles from anyone that you know she came close to experiencing the depths of loneliness but then made friends along the way and enjoyed it enough to stay on the road for almost two years.

Mary’s favourite countries were Mexico, Columbia and Peru. Her parting words where, you will have a blast and the most important things you need to take with you are a positive attitude and a compass.

ps. I made my 6:30am flight today, handed out bags in the security queue to my fellow female travellers for makeup and was rewarded by a pretty sunrise.

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Flight Mix Up

November 8th, 2006 by sunflowers

83 work flights and 42 holiday flights in the last seven years and a bit years I have been living in the UK. I really thought it was a lot more work flights than that and I am slightly surprised at the number of holiday flights. 810 days spent out of the country out of the 2677 days since I moved to the UK or 30% (note: I am that anal that I have a spreadsheet of all my days out the country – though to be fair I had to keep it in order to apply for my British Citizenship – it also got to the stage I had to tell work I couldn’t travel for a year as I was only allowed out of the country an average of 90 days a year). Anyway – I have never missed a flight or booked the wrong dates and three weeks before I finish work I managed to do both.

Yesterday I went to check in online to fly to Dublin today and realised that I had booked the flights for next week. So I cancelled my non refundable flights and booked some with Ryan Air who I had said I wouldn’t fly again. Then I clicked the online check-in before I remembered that my British passport is with my bike in Portugal.

Big BagThis morning it was up at 3:30 am and I got to the airport just after 5:00 am (flight at 6:30 am) with my New Zealand passport and a colour photo copy of the British passport one. Stupidly I didn’t go to the ticket counter as I didn’t want to pay the reissue fee and thought that they would let me on. Ryan Air? Not a chance.

Going through the airport security I had the airport staff threaten to take my face creams off me as I was using a zip lock bag with my 100 mls liquids in the plastic bag on the right Where it turns out that you need a tiny bag as per the one beneath it. Then after threatening to throw away my new face creams the guard joked about my going to dinner with him (clearly abusing his position of power with sleepless poorly packed females ;)).

Small BagSo by the time I got to the gate and was told that my NZ passport wasn’t acceptable if I had used the online check-in with my UK passport it was too late to go back to the ticket desk and change the ticket to make the flight. Going back to the ticket desk to purchase my third set of tickets I was told that the next flight would be £150 so I booked one for tomorrow morning (£40 and another 3:30 am start) then I went home to work for the rest of the day.

I spent the evening updating the donate page (I am just waiting now for Chance UK to set up the Just Giving site), added a Join In page and a spam filter so I have removed the need to register to comment (thanks Stephen).

Cool – I have someone bidding on the bed I am selling on eBay. I only tried with one thing as I wasn’t sure if it would work but it looks like it does so I am going to go through the rest of my stuff tonight and see what I can sell.

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Leaving Party Planning

November 7th, 2006 by sunflowers

I have been debating whether to have a leaving party or not. I find organising functions extremely stressful as I am always worried whether anyone will show up or not. But I have decided to go ahead with something as I would like to see all my friends before I go. I phoned up a few venues and after they finished laughing told me that this close to Christmas there is nothing available on a Friday or Saturday evening so it looks like it might be a Sunday afternoon which isn’t too bad a thing.

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Do I stay or do I go now

November 6th, 2006 by sunflowers

I knew today wasn’t going to be the greatest as I stayed up too late last night working on my website. And sure enough it was one of those days. In the late afternoon one of the sales managers I work with came up to talk about a couple of my projects and he mentioned that one of our clients was looking for a contract project manager and asked me if I was interested. My first reaction was – well it is too late now isn’t it. Then I thought, well my bike isn’t shipped yet and I haven’t managed to send out any sponsorship letters yet so I told him that I would consider it but that they would have to make up their mind in the next week.

Which made me think if I was so keen to stay and get a contract position maybe I should start looking for one and delay my trip for six months. So I found one of the emails that my mate has been sending me for positions and fired off my CV to a recruitment agent.

On the other hand I have been planning this trip for months now and even though I would love another six months to get ready and save more than the thousand pounds I have in the bank, everything is set to go. So after a bit of deliberation I decided that if this contract with our client comes through I would take it. But I highly doubt it as the client hasn’t even signed off the budget for the project and I am in the same position again, that it would be managing a project on behalf of the client for the company I work for now so it probably won’t happen, so it is all systems go.

Still I am going to get an early night tonight and forget about updating my website, writing letters or organising anything and just go to sleep so that I can get up early in the morning and walk to work and talk to my grandmother in New Zealand. Also on Wednesday morning I am going to have to be up at some up at some un-godly hour to get to the airport by five in the morning to go back out to Dublin.

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Anonymous Blog and South Bank

November 5th, 2006 by sunflowers

St. PaulsSlideToday I met up with a friend to check out the new Carsten Holler Installation of slides at the Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall. You have to get there early and queue for the free tickets. Then there is timed entries to the slides on the 3rd, 4th and 5th floors. I tried to do a little video while I was sliding down from the fifth floor slide. But as I had to hide the camera from the supervisor the 10 seconds I spent hurtling down the slide just wasn’t enough time to get out my camera and start the video. I did try which was a pity as it meant I missed the fun of just enjoying the slide.

Tower Bridge OpenSailing ShipAfter spending three hours in various queues for less than thirty seconds of sliding we went for lunch at pizza express along the Thames with a fantastic view of St. Paul’s Cathedral across the river. It was a lovely sunny if chilly day. Hanging out on the south bank of the Thames is one of my favourite London activities. It is days like this that I am really going to miss about London. We even got to see Tower Bridge lifting for a tall ship passing under. I also took a picture of my favour sculpture near London Bridge of the ship with a nose.

Ship with noseAs we were discussing various fundraising options and my total lack of time the conversation turned to the pleasures and pains of being a single professional woman in a city like London. Spurned by a comment that my friend made that she would love to write an anonymously blog about some of the things that don’t make it onto this blog we decided that we would write an anonymous blog together. I am not much of a writer and prefer to talk through things but for the period I am away it might be cauterising to be able to write an anonymous blog.

Since getting home from my excursion the rest of the evening has been spent trying to write a press release and filling out the justgiving website details for Casa Alianza, which has taken me ages. I wanted to get this written before midnight so I could go to sleep but every time I try and upload the photos my laptop is crashing. Maybe it is just time to go to sleep.

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Ear Plugs and Camping Equipment

November 4th, 2006 by sunflowers

This morning I took the train out to Harpenden to see Hearing Protection as they had kindly offered to sponsor me a pair of their moulded ear plugs complete with audio attachment and filter.

changeJoan and her husband run HP and Joan was sacrificing her Saturday to meet me to take a mould. It was lovely to meet someone who was almost more enthusiastic about my trip than I am. It is a delight as to most people it is just slightly strange. Plus it is so scary to me at the moment I need other people to be encouraging. We ended up having a big conversation about environmental concerns and the importance of hearing conservation. Joan then used the gun to squirt rubber stuff into my ears to take a mould of my ear canal. The mould will then be used to create my superwizz bang ear plugs.

Sound PodsJoan also gave me a set of the sound pods that fit on to bud ear phones and mean you don’t have to jam them into your ears to get them to stay there – which I have always really disliked. They are being released with ATM in January and they are amazing as totally improve the quality of the sound of your audio player and rather than have my ipod volume over 75% I was able to turn it down to under 25% and I could hear it better. But they aren’t to be used under a helmet. The picture of the sound pods is in front of their signed plaque from Pulp who I rate.

MouldHearing Protection have also provided ear plugs for Muse, Pink Floyd and a good friend of mine Mark who is the drummer for The Clientele who always carries them with him and uses them whenever noise is too loud. Mark also said that the band would be promoting their new album in April in the West Coast of the US so I might tag along with them for a while as I have always wanted to see what a band on tour was like. That would be well cool!

Climate MarchI didn’t make it to the US Embassy in time for the climate care march but I did pop along to Trafalgar Square to see a bit of the demonstration. Check out the new statue in Trafalgar Square at the top left hand corner of the photo, it is cross between a classic head pose, on a thalidomide pregnant body.

Field and TrekI then decided to continue my camping equipment research by popping into all of the trekking shops that are in Covent Garden. Field and Trek were having an autumn sale (20%-30% off) and Darren offered me a further 10% off the already discounted prices. Field and Trek has always been my favourite shop out of the Covent Garden trekking shops for both price and service. I have found the perfect bag for my bike – an 80L duffle bag with wheels and straps that can turn it into a backpack. I also bought light weight tent, 2 season sleeping bag, thermal underwear, socks, camel back (water bag) and a Gerber mini tool (leather man type thing). I am not going to think about the amount of money I put on my card.

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Fundraising

November 3rd, 2006 by sunflowers

I decided to walk to and from work today as it is my thinking time and I wanted to come up with some good ideas for both fundraising for the children’s charity and also seeing if I could get any sponsorship for my trip. It took me 5 hours to do the 17 miles (I had to stop at lights) so I got lots of thinking time in.

On the fundraising side I have agreed to pay for the use of justgiving.com for Chance UK as my donation page just gets heaps of spam whereas justgiving.com is already set up for fundraising side as you can see from this example of a bloke skateboarding across Australia www.justgiving.com/boardfree. I have decided that I would like to support an international children’s charity for non-uk residents so I have contacted Casa Alianza UK (www.casa-alianza.org.uk) which works with street children in Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras and Mexico. I have asked them if I can visit the projects that they have and include the visits in my blog. I have personally always thought that charity begins at home but from what I have read on Casa Alianza’s website I think that I will find some of the children’s situations fairly shocking.

Sponsored BikeI have also been trying to think of ways that I could sell experiences to do with my trip in order to fund part of the costs. I wanted to fund the trip entirely myself to begin with but hadn’t really counted on not having saved the money to do it by now. So a couple of the ideas I have come up with are. Having people pay to have stickers with either their name or a phrase on my panniers. This is an idea that someone on AdvRider.com sent me. If you click here you can see the posting about it. I hope they don’t mind that I have nicked a picture of their bike. Holding up people’s name in a designated destination of their choice. And my last idea was selling the chance to join me on the bike for a week. My mates at work totally rubbished this one saying that no one would want to join me unless I was Angela Jolie or Jennifer Aniston. Maybe when I am trying to sell all my stuff on ebay this weekend I can put up a posting and see if anyone responds.

btw – anyone reading this in the UK there is a March for Climate Justice tomorrow (4th November) in London. It starts at the US Embassy in Grosvenor Square at 1pm and goes to Trafalgar Square. www.campaigncc.org. If you can’t make it to the rally you can join the i Count website www.icount.org.uk it gives examples of how much carbon you can save by turning things off standby.
Take the telly off standby – 20kg of carbon saved in a single year.
Stereo off standby – 66kg of carbon saved.
DVD off standby – 44kg of carbon saved.
Unplug mobile charger – 10.5kg of carbon saved.
I shutter to think how much 140.5kg of carbon is. A kilo of something that is gas must be a whole lot!

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