Tag Archives: Grand Prix

I (Heart) My Boss

grand prixRemember everything mean I’ve ever said about my boss?

I take it all back.

Last year I tagged along to the Austrian Grand Prix with him – which had more to do with me having lived in Austria for two years, speaking the lingo (lol) and sharing the drive (yes, we drove, from Cardiff to Graz).

I’m not a petrol-head by any stretch of the imagination and spent most of the race in Austria tugging on the boss’s arm, asking, ‘where’s the loos?’, ‘why’s that car crashed?’, ‘when does it get to the exciting bit?’ and ‘can we go home now?’.

This year is different. He was toying with various Grand Prix locations, weighing up the prices. He worked out it was only a couple of hundred quid more to have me go along with him, than for him to go as a single traveller. Knowing that I was adept at travelling and scanning a guide book in the blink of an eye, he has asked me to accompany him to his Grand Prix of choice this year.

Singapore.

Sing-a-blooming-pore. Ah. No way. Absolutely no way. 31 degrees in September? I really don’t think so.

I said to him, ‘that’s soooo sweet of you, you know, to organise this ‘works do’. I mean, most boss’s are happy with a Christmas party at the local Carvery. Erm, have you thought about Belgium? Very clement, I hear.’

‘D’uh, we drove through Belgium on the way back from Austria last year. I’m striking out, being more adventurous. Just like you advised me to do?’.

‘Er, boss, when I said ‘adventurous’, I meant, perhaps going to Sainsbury’s for your ready-meals rather than Tesco’s?’

‘Yeah, well, I like Singapore Fried noodles, so it was pretty much a safe bet’.

‘Ah’.

‘Listen. You in? Or you out? I’m paying?’

‘Well, when you put it that way, erm, yup, it sounds, erm, pretty amazing’ (googles Dengue Fever quickly).

So the upshot is, I’m going to Singapore in September. I’ve rationalised it in my mind by thinking, ‘it’s experience, I could maybe write the next great novel out here, I might have the experience of my life’. If the heat doesn’t get me first.

I had a chat with the boss about what I should wear – always a touchy subject, being a fat-ish person.

‘Doesn’t matter – they’re all here to see the race, wear what you like’.

‘Like, I know, but a hint about the kind of hotel we would be staying in would be helpful?’

I should have known.

‘Raffles. Singapore’.

All my worst nightmare have come true. That epic, five-star hotel in Singapore? The hotel that invented Singapore Slings? The hotel that gives you a butler, just because they can? Gah. Really? I am neither rich nor thin. Will they accept me as a fat interloper?

Deep breaths.

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Wunderbar

AustriaWell, we made it back to Blighty by the skin of our teeth, not realising we were on one of the last Euro Shuttles out of Calais before a strike shut the entire town.

Just as well, as the kitten was due to be retrieved from the cattery by 4pm and The Teenager needed picking up from his flight to London in the wee early hours of Thursday.

Anyway, the trip to Austria with my boss/friend exceeded all expectations and amazingly, my tattered remnants of German held up – I was able to confidently order beers, ask how much a sausage with curry sauce was and change money for the endless loo breaks (they charge in European motorway stop offs, but well worth it just to watch the loo seat swivel round after flushing).

I tagged along, feigning interest in the Austrian Grand Prix, whilst secretly swotting up beforehand – what’s a few fast cars between friends? The boss magnanimously declined to attend the qualifiers, so we drove through Slovenia to Croatia on the Saturday instead, ending up in Zagreb for coffee and a wander round the old town.

Back in Austria, I initiated him into the joys of Wiener Schnintzel, small pale beers, bread with ham and cheese for breakfast and watching the F1 highlights in German, with me translating.

In retrospect, I learned a lot from our six-day trip:

  • A car is a very small space. As such, my friend didn’t always appreciate my attempts to stick ‘Blob’ gummy sweets (sold at every good German petrol station) to the dashboard when he was nudging 110 miles an hour.
  • A Grand Prix is kind of exciting. I bugged my friend with a lot of questions. He missed the crash at the beginning and started to reply through gritted teeth. I found the easiest way to calm him down was to pop another sausage and coffee in front of him.
  • The Grand Prix merchandise is waaaaaaay overpriced. I scraped together the money for a tiny teddy-bear keyring and got my friend to swipe the flags from the seats in front of us – you know, the ones that were to be waved by the spectators to show the Austrian flag to the watching world? Yup, those missing gaps are my fault.
  • I am much more confident with driving, helped no doubt by very fast cars behind me flashing their lights.
  • Most importantly, I have expanded my horizons a little bit and discovered that life does indeed go on outside my own four walls.

Back home, I had a pit-stop then schlepped to London to get The Teenager. He had travelled as an unaccompanied minor and as such, was mortified to be led through customs by a flight attendant. There was a moment’s hesitation when I was asked to sign for him (lol), but The Teenager and his passport were handed over.

A perfect week was rounded off by finding out that my book has been short-listed for The International Rubery Book Award 2015. Wunderbar x 10.

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Austria, Here We Come

AustriaMy boss. He doesn’t do the usual Dress Down Fridays (bit difficult as we wear paint-splattered gear every day – maybe we should have Dress Up Fridays?) or debauched Christmas parties, the meanie.

Last year, he held a festive bash for one. Him. On his own in a luxury restaurant with a 10-course tasting menu, a wonky paper hat, a bottle of bubbly and one straw.

This year however, he’s decided to splash out on a company outing. It started something like this:

‘Oi, Half-Shift! You speak German, don’t you? Didn’t you used to live in Austria? Can you ask for a hot-dog in the lingo?’

‘Erm, yup? Ja? Boss. Jawohl? Wurst?’

‘Excellent. We’re going to Austria.’

‘Oh. wunderbar! Are we going to tour the majestic beauty of the mountains and the breath-taking winding roads? Perhaps stopping in a charming Gasthof with carved wooden balconies? Wiener Schnitzel every evening?’

‘Nah, nothing like that. Grand Prix. In Graz.’

‘Oh.’

‘You in?’

Well. What could I say? It just so happens The Teenager is with his dad at the same time. Blimey. A road trip from Cardiff to Graz. To watch some souped-up cars racing round in a loop, over and over again. What’s not to like?

Of course I’m in. I might not understand what it’s all about – apparently he’s booked Grandstand seats – but I’m sure I can take my Inspirational Thoughts notebook and jot down some literary musings, sipping a strong coffee.

Actually, I can’t wait. My own four walls are closing in on me and the chance of escape is enticing.

We leave tomorrow morning and I’m still not packed. Being pale, fat and frumpy, my wardrobe choices are somewhat limited. I have a couple of pairs of cropped trousers but when I tried them on, my white legs blinded me and should Lewis Hamilton need one, I have a spare tyre or two around my waist.

Gut, ja?

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Off Work, On The Ball

meThe boss is away soon (Abu Dhabi, Grand Prix, tsk)  so I now find myself with a lot of spare time on my hands.

I’m not back in work for ten days (*stumbles for joy*).

But.

I’m useless with time. I can sit/lie/sprawl on the sofa for hours on end, waste entire days contemplating hoovering the house and generally loll about doing nothing much apart from de-fleaing the cat.

With this in mind, I have drawn up a timetable. In these ten days I have to: go to the doctor’s twice (thyroid), write two 2.000 word essays, write a collection of short stories totalling 3,000 words, edit my blog ready for publishing, stop shoving dust balls under the rugs and hoover the house, finish Christmas shopping, clear all the leaves from the garden and make a banana cake.

Sadly, I’m useless at timetables. I work far better under pressure, and with the lure of downloading addictive¬†trash TV, I will have to be strict with myself. And this is where I come unstuck.

I’m toying with the idea of the donkey and stick. Maybe I should hold off that first cup of wondrous coffee until I at least write one tiny paragraph of an essay. Or until I pick up the hoover. But I tried that before. I simply opened the coffee jar and inhaled deeply then picked the blasted hoover up and half-heartedly sucked up the bits of cat food around the bowls. Exhausting. And Housewives of Somewhere or Other was ready to watch and calling to me.

So I’m a little bit anxious about the days stretching ahead in front of me, but when I think back to my last day in work, today, I’m kind of relived to have a little break.

The Boss thought it would be hilarious to play the Christmas radio station. I endured five hours of back-to-back Christmas hits, with his favourites turned up loud. By the end of the day I was a gibbering wreck, with trumpets, drummer boys and halls decked with holly careering around my brain.

My first proper day off is tomorrow. I will visit the Uni library, take The Teenager to rugby training, make a banana cake and dust the telly. In readiness.

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