Category Archives: Uncategorized

Bucket list

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OK, I have never actually seen the film ‘The Bucket List’ but I have seen enough American films and TV shows to know that it’s basically a list of things you want to do before you kick the bucket. So here goes…

  1. Visit every single American state
  2. Find out about my ancestry
  3. Write a book
  4. Own a business
  5. Quit a job and make it the most successful job quitting there ever was.
  6. Be size 12 ( a sad state of affairs for women, but I do know I want to at least know how it feels to not be a whale)
  7. Run a marathon (probably whilst coinciding with the above)
  8. Kiss a boy in the rain-  next step errmm sex in the rain?
  9. Go to the Grand Canyon– I think I need to go back and do that one again
  10. Have a glass of whiskey in a checked shirt in a mahogany room in a mountain cabin
  11. Smoke a cigarette with a strong coffee at an outdoor table by the Seine, hopefully whilst gazing at the Eiffel Tower
  12. Go to Iceland (not the supermarket) and have a bath in one of those hot outdoor lakes and breathe in the sulfuric fumes.
  13. Stand underneath the Angel of the North with my arms out whilst someone takes a photograph of me.
  14. Climb up a mountain on the Isle of Skye and look around, hopefully with a massive DSLR camera capturing the beauty of it.
  15. Do the Go Ape Zipline trail through Grizedale.
  16. Go to Budapest.
  17. Visit an obscure Eastern European country for a weekend
  18. Go to Asia
  19. Go to Africa and take a photograph of an elephant and a giraffe. Maybe try and befriend the giraffe.
  20. Take a kid to a petting farm
  21. Get a diploma in something cool and obscure like pottery or homeopathy
  22. Read a philosophical piece of literature, without skipping chapters and refer to it at every available opportunity.
  23. Read all the set texts from university that I never actually read but wrote misguided essays on.
  24. Get an Alsatian rescue dog.
  25. Tell someone I hate what I really think of them.
  26. Tell someone I love what I really think of them.
  27. Write a song.
  28. Be the coolest auntie when my siblings have kids.
  29. Maybe have a kid of my own someday.
  30. Or adopt one.
  31. Do 20 unsupported press-ups in a row.
  32. Go to Munich and visit the University where Sophie Scholl dropped all the anti-nazi leaflets in the film, Sophie Scholl.
  33. Learn to speak fluent French again.
  34. Speak fluent German again.
  35. Read the German books my mum gave me.
  36. Visit the Harry Potter Warner Bro’s studio.
  37. Watch a show in London.
  38. See a TED talk.
  39. Make a radio appearance.
  40. Buy something I actually like in Topshop, then condescendlingly look a member of staff from that Godforsaken store up and down.
  41. Attend a political rally.
  42. Start an activism campaign.

Blog rampage

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In an attempt to get employers to see that I can maintain a personal blog, without too much swearing and a variety of thematic pieces, I am inviting you on a quick trip down memory lane to review and re-read some of my personal favourites. I know this is a very blatant, vain and self-centred attempt at advertising one’s visibility on the internet, but I’m really clutching at straws to get noticed at the moment, and hopefully land a job in copywriting/ other creative industries. Here are my three top picks:

Fancy a trip down Pretzel Lane?

http://sarahsberlindiaries.wordpress.com/2012/06/19/best-and-weirdest-scents-from-germany-7/

Internal Revolutions

http://sarahsberlindiaries.wordpress.com/2012/07/15/how-the-year-abroad-has-changed-me-22/

Short on musical ideas?

https://whatshouldsarahdowithlife.wordpress.com/2012/12/26/2012-a-playlist/

 

Post Season Hues

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Dear All,

The seasonnaire diary that I was meant to write whilst in Megeve never really took off. I am full of excuses over this, but checking Facebook was nigh on impossible anyway, so I doubt the Soleil d’Or’s internet would have been able to deal with the upload of thousands of season pictures and rants about the unfair cleaning regimes and staffing problems which seem to be an all too common problem on seasonal jobs. So here is my winter summed up in one blog post:

I set off to Gatwick airport in the early hours of December 6th, loaded up with two holdall’s and my super nerdy backpack (it does make me look like a primary school pupil) where I met some of my colleagues before we boarded the plane. We were all buzzing from too many travel sweets and the anticipation of what the season would bring and more importantly to get on the ski slopes. We arrived at the Soleil d’Or hotel late in the evening and got unpacked and into bed as we were told that the next day would see us up early in the morning for the busy training week which would set up both of the hotels after winter. 

Training week consisted of learning to clean rooms, how to lay out the tables and figuring out the bar. Much alcohol was consumed and alliances were already forming within the group. At this stage, only a few days in, I already realised that there were some people that I would get on with much better than others, but hey, that’s life. Some of the highlighted drunken antics of me and my colleagues included climbing through a bakery window, eating many cheeseburgers, a threesome (not me by the way) and some of the chalet girls chundering EVERYWHAAARRRREEE!

As the weeks went by I enjoyed many of my favourite Megevan hotspots, dressed up as Robin Sidekick for the New Years Eve superhero bash, lunch at The Radaz, sunbathing at Espace Mont Joux and consuming far too much cake ( Saturday afternoon’s Caramel Slice was literally to die for though and had the additional bonus of easing the pain that was transfer day.)

We had lots of interesting guests too. Obviously a lot of them were way wealthier than I will ever be, but generally they were a pretty cool bunch. We had racing drivers, doctors, nurses, dotcom wealth and the inheritance tax avoiders. You get to know people pretty intimately when you’re pinching their dirty pants between two fingers when you go in to tidy their rooms everyday, then blush through the conversation with them at dinner because we’re both aware that I saw those magazines that you tried to hide under your bed. 

I feel rather as though I’m brushing over the details of this season, making it sound rather as though it was some big old jolly, but maybe I should give you a bit of insight as to what a typical working day entails.

6:45 am: The first alarm goes off. Outward groan. Hit snooze.

6:50 am: Second alarm. Repeat step one. Keep repeating this step until it gets to 7am.

7:00 am: Definitely cutting it fine to get up. Swivel legs out of bed into trousers that you left at the bed last night and grab t-shirt from the end of the bed. Pull over head. Scrambled around in the dark for hair bobble. Scrape hair back, ensuring there.are no ‘pubey bits’ as Chef calls them.

7:05 am: Brave turning on the lights and standing up

7:10 am Power walk to kitchen of Chalet Antoine, or breathe a sigh of relief if you must merely stand in the lift to the basement of the Soleil d’Or (I am henceforth going to abbreviate this to the ‘Soleil’.

7:15 am: Find a large mug, pour in Carrefour discount coffee granules in triple the recommended quantities and dissolve in boiling water from the already boiling jug. Accompany the mud-like mixture with a paddling pool sized bowl of cardboard cornflakes. Avoid eye contact with managers for as long as possible to put off the briefing which reminds you of where you are.

7:30 am: Breathe a sigh of relief that it’s not your turn on pot-wash or the toilets this morning.

8:00 am: Somehow end up on pot-wash anyway.

9:00 am: Crave another coffee like you have never craved coffee in your life.

9:05: Receive the daily inspirational pep-talk from Chef who thinks he is God, telling you he could do the Mont- Blanc of porridge pans in 5 minutes. 

9: 45: Breathe a sigh of relief that your hands are no longer scrambling in suds and pan grease to crack on with groundfloor duties or rooms.

10:00 am: If on rooms: ‘You should be on your 5th room by now, what is taking you so long!?”

“I don’t know” I reply, angrily trying to make the corners of the duvet fit in the cover and desperately trying to smooth it out “I’m not just sat up here with my thumb up my arse you know”

“Ok well when you’ve done that, the fan in the bathroom is looking a bit grubby, could you get a toothbrush and clean it out properly? Guests DO notice these things you know”

“Sieg Heil!” Proceed to go and find a toothbrush, resisting the temptation not to use the nearest one to hand.

10:15: Move on to fifth room, pleased that the inhabitants are not dieters and nick a Cadbury’s Rose for motivation and energy. With both hands on toilet brush, saw away at the caked-on excrement, and ‘buff the chrome’ on the bath taps, knowing that despite best efforts, will be asked to go back and do it again anyway.

11:00: Quick whispered discussion (bitching session) with other chalet girl, giggle that she is ‘Not a professional cleaner, but just an 18 year old with sponge”

11:45: Hoover the corridor and smile inwardly that the worst part of the day is over and I will not have to make beds for another 20 hours. Head down to kitchen and enjoy a feast of last night’s leftovers sandwiched into a chunk of baguette.

1:00pm: Semi run in ski boots to bus stop, sweating profusely and breathing heavily.

3pm: Return from ski slopes early to squeeze in a shower and a power nap before next shift.

6: 15 pm: Arrive for evening shift: Choice of the following activities:Activity choice one: Bar work, which is actually just standing on a mostly empty bar folding napkins and polishing glasses whilst catching the highlights of the Winter Olympics with mouth agog when you see the Moguls race. Activity choice 2: Running round like a headless chicken trying to make knives and forks straight, finish job proudly before being told that it’s actually soup night and you need to remove all of the starter cutlery and replace it with soup spoons. Activity choice 3: Veg prep, the most preferable as it usually means you can just stand there and go braindead for 45 minutes whilst peeling Jerusalem artichokes, carrots and potatoes for very little hassle. Activity choice 4: Potwash again- Everest compared to the morning.

8:20 pm: Starters and mains served with relatively few dramas. Pull up a crate around the staff table in the cellar with dinner larger than what the guests would receive, using soup starter as gravy. Enjoy a few moments of sanity and immature conversation with colleagues.

9:30 pm: Dessert has been served. Try and cram in a leftover tiramisu served with a doughnut whilst frantically polishing cutlery. Get asked to go and help upstairs with clearing the dining room. Resist the urge to punch supervisor square in the nose.

10:00 pm: Guests still not budging from seats due to exciting conversation about the advantages that private education can offer. Try to clear glasses, but immediately recoil under stony glare from guest who loves free wine.

10:15pm: Eventually step out into cool night air and breathe in freedom.

 

I am aware that that was a very long post, but I did this everyday for four months and it is more for my own benefit that I remember this so as not to work in hospitality again. Despite the negativity about the actual job activities I did enjoy myself. It was challenging and amusing. I made some really good friends doing a season and improved my ski technique a great deal, as well as broadening my CV by having a go at nannying (best contraception EVER!) A warning for anyone who ever wants to do a season though, it is NOT for the faint-hearted!

What the last three months have taught me.

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To summarise my last 4 months is a relatively tricky task. I quit my Windermere job as I believed I was meant to do bigger things. First lesson learned. Don’t do things on a whim or because you have some sort of notion that you are God. Suck up the things you don’t like until you are sure you can safely move onto the next big thing. That whim resulted in the next semi-poor life choice: I spent three weeks on the dole (to American readers that means state unemployment benefit) before taking a telesales role on the other side of the country. That lasted for three weeks. I sailed through training. I am excellent at learning, retaining and demonstrating that I have absorbed information for an exam situation I have spent years and years mastering cramming and proving it successful (I have never failed a crammed exam yet). Application of knowledge is a different matter entirely. In the sink or swim situation that is telesales, I sank like a block of lead in the Atlantic and was fired after 2 weeks on the phone. This resulted in my return to Lancaster where I have been back on unemployment benefits and learning to drive for the last 6 weeks.

So when it comes to hating your job vs being unemployed it is actually a toss up between base drudgery but constant activity and complete boredom, I would choose the drudgery right now, but only because I know that the two are equally shit, but at least if you’re earning money then you don’t have to feel quite so guilty about spending it but reward yourself in varied ways. If you reward yourself repetitively you will become more bored and more hateful of your life. 

I have 9 months to pay off £600 of overdraft. For the next 9 months I choose the money and I have not got a moment to waste. 

The realities of hotel work in the Lake District

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So the blog kinda fell by the wayside, probably because I’ve been writing on actual paper (yes people do still know how to use a pen, as it turns out!)

A lot has changed since I last wrote. I am now a GRADUATE with a 2:1 degree in languages. I am not bored of telling people this, partially because I have to keep saying it aloud and writing it to confirm it’s true and partially because I’m actually very proud of myself which also doesn’t happen a lot. 

So now I’m living in Windermere in the Lake District. I wish it was as classy as it sounds, but it’s far from, and once I leave this place, I intend never to come back for as long as I can. Bowness is now a tacky tourist town, polluting what was once a beautiful lake with ice cream wrappers and breadcrumbs for the thousands of pestilential birds which swarm like locusts at the pier. it is also a little bit like Beijing. I have never seen so many Chinese people in my life, but they seem to go crazy for Peter Wabbit. In this village there are 4 chinese restaurants, one thai and two Indians, not that I’m opposed to varied cuisine, but if I went to Asia, I sure wouldn’t be going for fish n chips, I’d be trying out the local cuisine….

I am however a bit hypocritical in that I’m currently sat in a Costa Coffee Shop, however that’s because it’s the only place that I can sit for hours on the wifi, undisturbed because their swimming pool sized coffees will keep you going for hours and no one will lift an eyebrow at you unlike the local ones where you can definitely overstay your welcome if you milk the free wifi for a bit too long.

Sadly the high-flying career which tends to go with a degree hasn’t quite taken off the ground yet. I am on an afternoon break from my daily split shifts at the hotel job I’ve taken for the summer which is sadly very very unglamourous. Picture this:

Me on hands and knees trying to use a damp towel to get the little black curlies off bathroom tiles; or crouching over a toilet scrubbing away at crusted on excrement with a brush. Yep it’s not pleasant, but I suppose I’m in a better situation than some, those who have run out of places to look for a job, no matter how tiring or disgusting just so long as they don’t have to eat cold, smart-price beans out of a tin because the electricity’s been shut off by the utilities company… I have to keep telling myself that before I pluck up the courage to hand in my notice, but it’s ever so hard. 

I used to tell people I’m a real people’s person, I’m not sure that’s so true. Once you see how other people really live when they think nobody’s watching, your opinion of them changes a lot… Working in a low-skilled job definitely makes you want to generously tip every-time you go out for a drink or a meal, because you know that at some point during the day, the waiter or waitress has had to deal with many condescending or patronising comments, which are probably about things far out of their control. 

It’s not all bad though, sometimes you have the nicest guests who make you think that what you’re doing is almost worthwhile. They leave their rooms tidy, they ask you about your background, your dreams and hopes for when your contract ends and hug you when they leave, genuinely wishing you all the best for the future whilst silently slipping a five pound note into your pocket. 

These people are my heroes, realising that just because you’re a waitress or a toilet cleaner, you’re not a lost cause nor are you incapable of intelligent conversation, wit and humour.

I think I’ve covered all the corners now… maybe my next post will be more upbeat

Lancaster is up to its usual tricks again.

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By that I mean raining. I had to go to the post-office this morning to send my dear brother some haribo to cheer him up in Afghanistan and got soaked in about 10 minutes….

I am also aware that the more time I spend here, the more I am actually turning into my parents. Alcohol down, I am now judging my dad every time he eats cake (since when have I been a food nazi? Oh yeah, since living with them), and enjoying increasingly lengthy periods out in the wild. Little by little the big city is getting less appealing, except the friendship ties, of course that’s always appealing (for the ‘closie’s’ reading this 😉 ) 

I am feeling a little sick though. I have a feeling that all of these walks and other procrastination type trips to town/ post office/ shop are a new form of denial that I have my finals in the next 5 weeks or so. Fuckkkk. I guess I should stop blarghing and get on with it. 

Also, I really wish I’d been a blog-twat and taken an instagram of my lunch, as it was a rather awesome looking tuna walldorf salad. NOM. Bis bald Mensche!

xx