Friday, 30 September 2011

All In a Day's Work

A telescope isn't something that we usually set up at our work meetings, but one of my colleagues is a bit of a birdwatcher in his spare time, and he was keen to show us all his fabulous new accessory.

We were, after all, spending a whole day's training in a room with the most beautiful outlook in England.

The large, floor to ceiling windows gaze out across a glorious stretch of white sand, and today, the sky was cloudless and deep blue. It felt warm - unusually warm for an early Autumn day.

Before the meeting got started, I sat outside with my cup of tea and thought how very lucky I was to be sitting in front of such an amazingly peaceful scene.

At coffee time, we took it in turns to look through the telescope, observing all sorts of sea birds, the lighthouse, the prom and the windmills. It was an excellent piece of kit and we apologised to our colleague for laughing at him when he first admitted to buying it.

As the meeting progressed, we talked about how to provide excellent customer service. Going the extra mile, making a connection, taking ownership of problems....all the usual stuff that gets bandied about on these occasions. We know the answers, we know how to do it, we would never let our customers down...

...Little did we know, however, that all this bragging was soon going to be put to the test thanks to the watchful eye of the telescope...

At lunchtime, we set it up on the balcony of the building. Our venue is designed to look like a ship and I felt like I was on the deck, eating my sarnies and observing all the landlubbers below. Every now and then, someone would have a look through the telescope and our birdwatching colleague would reel off the names of all the birds diving into the sea.

Our Meeting venue
In the distance, he spotted a little boat, bobbing about beyond the pier. To the naked eye, you could only just make out its shape, but you couldn't actually see if there was anyone in it. The telescope, however, revealed exactly what was going on.

Two men wearing lifejackets were struggling to get the engine on their little boat to work. I've watched my husband doing a similar thing with a lawnmower a few times - madly yanking the cord - sweating, swearing, huffing and puffing before giving the useless machine a good kicking. Maybe the man with the starting cord had already tried to give the engine a good kicking because somehow their boat was full of water. We knew this because we were able to see the second man frantically using his welly to bail it out.

The telescope was passed to another colleague, who just happens to be a volunteer lifeboatman. After a couple of seconds, he rang the coastguard. The little boat continued to drift as the two men desperately tried to get the engine started.

'They've got loads of tattoos,' one of my colleagues observed, 'Its amazing - you can almost make out what they say.'

The volunteer lifeboatman's bleeper went off. He had been called into action. He gave his apologies and sprinted off like Bruce Wayne to the Batmobile. We continued to watch the drama unfold from our position on the deck of the ship.

The coastguard's landrover flashed past - its blue light matching the colour of the sky and its siren wailing towards the shore. The seabirds scattered.

We were now fighting over a turn on the telescope. The Lifeboat had been launched and was roaring and leaping over the waves towards the two stricken men in their knackered boat.

'Let me see! Let me see!' we argued. We were desperate to see if our colleague was on board the rescue boat.

'It's him! It's him!' someone yelled.

Our new HR manager, who was joining us on her very first day at work, must have felt a little bemused. Not only was she was joining a team of people who brought along pens, paper and a telescope to a training day, but they also interupted lunch to save the lives of those in peril on the sea.

The lifeboat towed the little dinghy back to the safety of the shore. The tattooed men, one still clutching his welly, looked relieved, embarrassed and exhausted.

Our lifeboatman returned and told us to our disappointment that it wasn't actually him out there doing the rescue. His fellow volunteers had beaten him to it, and one of them looks just like him - even through the bionic eye of our telescope.

We took our seats for the afternoon session, discussing the qualities required to be a good manager in a sports centre and the 'tools' that are needed to help us achieve this.

'Empathy,' someone said, 'Experience, communication skills...'

'...And a bloody good telescope,' it was suggested after a pause, much to the delight of our birdwatching colleague, who's object of ridicule had now become the most essential tool in the quest to achieve world class customer service....

All in all, it was an extraordinary and rather unexpected kind of day at the office!

Friday, 16 September 2011

Happy Birthday to me!

Gosh, its been a while since I posted anything on here! The summer holidays have scuppered writing, and now that the kids are back at school, I'm busy getting my head around new routines/activities etc.
I seem to have done nowt but write cheques for the last couple of weeks - school dinners, gymnastics, cricket, school trips, Brownies, school swimming, school milk, new sweatshirts.....I'm skint!

I have, however, been busy writing the Corbridge Angels blog which seems to have gone down well with its readers! We actually WON our last game of the season. Even if you're not a cricketer, you might enjoy reading an account of that momentous game...

Tonight, I'm hosting 'An Evening with the Angels.' All the cricket lasses from Corbridge Angels are coming over to my place bringing a plate of grub and a bottle. We've got some fun awards and I've organised a couple of surprises in there too, so hopefully we'll have a good night. I must get on tidying the house!

And yesterday it was my birthday. I'm 43. Blimey - how did that happen??!

I had a lovely day - the 7 year old appeared 'in my face' at around 7.15am with pen and paper to take my order for breakfast, then took it down to the chef - the 10 year old - who set to work on my order. Toast with honey, orange juice and a piece of flapjack that he'd made in his cooking lesson the day before. Delish.

Usually, my birthday gets irritatingly unacknowledged by my husband, but he today he managed a sleepy 'happy birthday,' then produced a family holiday back to India just before Christmas. A rather splendid present! Can't wait!

As the day went on, I scoffed a HUGE lunch with dad and Eileen, then later tried to burn off the calories by cutting the grass. As I was doing this, the 10 year old, his pal and the 7 year old sneakily set about making some 'birthday flapjack' for me. I came back in the house to this -

It was delicious, and there was none left 10 minutes later.

Later, my mum came across with a birthday cake and candles, so I even had the whole 'Happy Birthday dear mu-um/Lisa' thing to enjoy before polishing off a bottle of sparkles from my workmates.

I'm a very lucky lass :-))))

And now that the cricket season has finished, I'll be updating this blog more regularly rather than the 'Corbridge Angels' blog - so if there are any readers still left out there - please don't leave me just yet!