Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Top Shelf Reading Material...

My week...

Click then right click to enlarge this rubbish!

Sunday, 20 November 2011

The Joys of Self Employment...

It's been a solid fortnight of work here at base camp. So no posts.

All of a sudden, despite the recession, everybody wants thier work doing - and doing yesterday. After what seems like a working desert during the spring, it's caused me to reflect on what it means to be self-employed these days.

I know I'm lucky to have a lot of work on. I've been doing what I do for over 13 years on my own and I like to think I do a good job - hence the repeat work. But sometimes it's hard going.

I've been told I 'thrive' on pressure which I can honestly say is bullshit. Deadlines are horrible when they are relentlessly one-after-the-other and it's easy to get burnt out.  Things like decorating, gardening, days out, buying hats etc. become treats - (God, I never thought decorating would be a treat! Actually it's not. Forget that - decorating is also horrible.)

Dealing with demanding and belligerent clients, however has become much easier of late. Since earlier in the year, I now have a much keener idea of the value of time now. I find it much easier to say the word 'NO' and that is a very powerful word I can tell you.

"Can we just tweek"..."NO!"
"Would you be able to just"..."NO!"
"Do you want help with your packing sir..." "NO!" (easy to get caried away with the no's)

Chasing invoices - what fun! It really is. I can heartily recommend it as a stress relieving activity.

It is now anyway.

After a recent chat with my bank manager, I have invested in a brand new bit of company kit. And it's gonna make the job a whole lot easier...

Dear Sirs, Your invoice is now overdue...

Friday, 4 November 2011


Way back when, when I used to work in a busy architects practice in the city, I'd often stay late or at weekends and work on my own little projects for 'fun'. Test shots I used to call them. I'd model up buildings on the Macs and do little animations of space stations, jumping Pixar lamps and other useless activities (I do this for a living now).

In the evenings and especially at weekends, I would often see some of my colleagues skulking around the office furtively tapping away at thier computers or loitering around printers which were kicking out huge sheets of paper containing plans or elevations of some architectural scheme. Thier own 'private' schemes. This sneaky nocturnal activity was commonly known in the trade as doing a 'PJ' or 'private job' and many an architectural practice has begun life via pilfering work away from the mother company as employees set-up on thier own, I can tell you.

I'm wearing pj's now. It's 3.30 am and I can't sleep. I've had one of those disturbing dreams that keep you awake long after you've forgotten what the dream was about. Which I have. Pj's were part of the dream though - hence the post (hopefully a boring enough post that it'll make me sleepy again). My pyjamas tonight consist of some long green tartan 'bottoms' made of brushed cotton (very warm) and a long-sleeved t-shirt. (Yawn).

Donald where's me troosers?
Not so warm though that I'd want to go out into the night in them to feed the chickens, like some people in North Wales often do (I'm sure there's some sort of law against indecent exposure).

When I first got my plot on the allotment site, I once made a few fake big cat prints in the mud as a 'practical joke', just to watch the old boys start thier own rumours and folklore about the huge predator prowling around the countryside. To this day they are still talking about the big cat. I'll have to create some more tiger prints soon.

Which reminds me of an incident a few years back. I'd driven to pick up a job in an area around the town of Leek in Staffordshire, which is near to the Peak District National Park. It's fairly hilly around there and the roads are twisty and turny. This particular road was cut into a hillside and was reasonably quiet. I remember coming around a bend and having to stop at a set of temporary traffic lights for some road-works. There were two cars in front of me, then a space of about 75 yards (the road-works) before the stopped cars at the lights on the other side of the road. As I pulled up behind the two cars in front of me, I wound down the window and waited for the lights. During the pause between traffic, a huge jet black Leopard lept up onto the dry-stone wall on the left, jumped down onto the road in front of us and in two long bounds had cleared the road, hopped onto the opposing stone wall and off down the slope.

Here kitty kitty...
As I got out of the car, incredulous, I watched amazed, as others got out of thier vehicles to try and catch a glimpse of the cat running into the trees, mouths gawping...

(Yawns) F**k me, it's time to get up!!!