There are some teeny tiny little things in everyday life that probably mean nothing to anyone else – but to me they’re epic moments of success.
As I type I’m sitting in the back of a car full of people.
To most people this is the short straw and something of a raw deal because sitting in the front seat is infinitely preferable.
The back seat is cramped and it has three men on it who are shoulder to shoulder – however (even though it’s very cosy) I’m just chuffed beyond words that I’m one of them and able to sit here without feeling like I’m taking up more than my fair share.
My seatbelt is on, I have loads of leg room, I fit comfortably in my seat and I’m able to put my knees together.
None of this was possible a couple of years ago.
Furthermore I wouldn’t have even been in someone else’s car in the first place.
I’d have been driving myself to my destination to avoid the embarrassment of trying (and invariably failing) to get a seatbelt on in any car other than my own.
The reason I’m in this situation is that I’m out if work today on a team building exercise and I’m staying for the evening in hotel Stratford-upon-Avon.
Oddly (although I live only 15 miles away) I’ve not spent much time in Stratford. I know next to nothing about the history of the place or the more nuanced elements of it’s character.
That may be about to change…
(Author spends the day doing things and then continues writing his blog the next day.)
Well – although I’ve not had much sleep (largely related to coffee) I’m in a pretty good frame of mind because yesterday contained another real triumph too. It turned out that simply sitting in a car was the least of the things I had to be happy about.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
The hotel was pretty neat – and waaaay higher up the comfort scale that I’m used to, because if I was paying for this myself I’d definitely have been looking for a B&B!
Normally I don’t really feel at home when every surface is covered in marble – but I made the best of things and resolved to grin and bear the hardships that life had seen fit to throw at me.
The day didn’t go too badly in this respect either because rather out of the blue I got a nice little room upgrade due to a mix up involving duplicate card keys. As I let myself into what I thought was my assigned room it turned out that I was strolling into a colleague’s room very unexpectedly!
Thankfully (although I’d surprised him) he’d already hidden the body he’d almost certainly been disposing of and there was no other significant embarrassment.
After a chat with reception to make up for this they hurriedly moved me to the top floor and into a king size with a view!
The team building event was all very useful and all the people there (a lot of whom I’d heard of but never met) seemed very happy to meet eachother – as well as willing to tuck in and enjoy the seemingly endless food that the company and venue had laid on.
As a Slimming World focused guy this all looked extremely off limits (I did have an egg and a bacon roll, but threw away the bread and the rind) – so I instead focused on the fruit and grabbed a few apples.
However there was one really great perk.
Lunch was pretty similar – and while there was a buffet style arrangement with a cheesy baked pasta with deep fried wedges and breaded scampi there was also a lot of fruit and chilled meat.
Once again I made a healthier choice and grabbed a load of watermelon, some carrot and pepper sticks, a little pasta and some ham.
This filled a gap (I did go back for more) and along with (far too much) coffee managed to see me through the day.
After the event’s workshop my company had also organised a fun team building GPS challenge that would split us all up and force us to head out on foot to explore around Stratford-upon-Avon.
The idea behind it was to learn more about the people we were with, make us work together and go on a ‘guide free’ guided tour. If I’m honest I couldn’t have been happier about this – as it had already proved to be a little hard to fit in my usual amount of miles and steps with everything that had been going on.
We were presented with a GPS enabled tablet – told to head for any of many ‘locked’ areas on the map and work though the challenges that we found there.
They wouldn’t unlock until we arrived, and along the way we could earn extra points with general knowledge and business related multiple choice questions.
As soon as we set off I realised I’d been matched up with three pretty fit and extremely competitive people who were all frequently breaking into a jog to get from A to B. As soon as we left the building and they immediately took off like a hares at a greyhound race in the direction of the most distant locked point on the map.
The amazing thing (this kind of thing still surprises me) is that I was able not only to keep up but felt perfectly comfortable when I did.
As we navigated around the sites of interest, took photos, staged funny videos and chatted to random members of the public as part of the challenges that kept unlocking I became aware that I was really enjoying the energy of it all.
My pulse was racing with excitement rather than exhaustion!
As the two hour deadline assigned to us ticked down it also became apparent when the tablet started pinging that we were narrowly ahead in the rankings. When all of a sudden the scoresheet disappeared we realised that very little stood between a total loss and a resounding victory – so we rushed even more.
By the time we were back in the room we were looking at a lot of other pretty tired people – some of whom seemed to be really flagging – whilst others were similarly energised.
One of my day to day team members had been with another group and they had been very close to our score.
We eyed eachother suspiciously…
Who had beaten who?
As the winners were announced, and funny pictures or videos from the day were thrown up on the projection screen everyone seemed on the edge of their seats and the table with the four of us actually seemed like we were literally on the edge of our seats.
Then our names were absent.
The announcer callout out the table behind us and one by one put the winning medals on another team….
We looked at eachother.
What the heck?
How had that happened?
We were SO close!!!
Was the tablet broken?
Had our score not uploaded?
Then the announcer turned to them and said ‘and take those medals off and give them to the REAL winners – whose score was over 100 points higher – and pointed to my team!!!
We only went and frikkin won the whole thing!!!!!
After a lot of laughter and congratulations (as well as commiserations) we all headed beck to our rooms to get ready for our evening’s activity – which was a meal at the rooftop restaurant in the RSC.
Once again this is waaaaay swankier than I’d normally go for – and because we were such a big group we ended up spilling over from one huge table into another room – which looked like King Arthur should have been the guest of honour…
The food (which in my case was ordered in advance) was a pretty stress free SW experience – because although not everything I’d be eating was perfectly in plan it was as good as I was going to get.
I had the mackerel for a starter (with rhubarb and celeriac), and the chicken and bacon for a main.
I’ll be honest and say that this didn’t touch the sides – and despite my best intentions I ended up eating the complimentary biscuits in the room later that evening (2 large chocolate cookies and 2 ginger nuts) which must have been absolutely loaded with syns.
However – I’m not going to stress about it.
Life’s for living after all.
Since I don’t drink alcohol I went to bed well before the (rather well oiled) party finished in the bar that evening, in the hope that I’d get a good night’s sleep.
However – this wasn’t meant to be – and probably because of being in a strange bed combined with all of the soft and diet drinks I’d been having (alongside buckets of sparking water) I was awake pretty much all night.
By 5.30am I decided to give up on sleep and go for a walk along the river and around the town before breakfast at 6.30.
There was practically no-one around except me – so I just had to take a shameless tourist selfie outside Shakespeare’s house, and also outside the really odd Christmas shop thats open ALL YEAR ROUND right opposite it.
Whilst mooching around I also noticed that near the RSC all of the houses had rather unique door knockers!
How cool are these?!!!
After taking snaps of people’s front doors I wandered back along the peaceful riverbank and back to the hotel for the start of the breakfast window.
I scared the life out of the lady on the booking desk who (thanks to my recent Clarkes Shoes purchase) didn’t hear or see me coming at all. Yaaay for comfort and sneakability!!!
Faced with a lot of choice and at the same time feeling rather tired and worn out I once again tried to food optimise – but this was tough.
Buffets can be good for things like that – as long as you try and keep the ratios right – and broadly speaking I think I sort of managed it, but my willpower was at a bit of a low ebb.
I’m not gonna lie – I went back for seconds too.
But you know what – all in all I had a great time!
I met a lot of lovely people, won a challenge I’d never have had a hope in hell of even competing in previously and got to explore Stratford a bit more.
All in all internet it was a really welcome break from the norm!
P.S. thats not the only break from the usual because I’m not weighing in today. In a minute I’m heading off to yet another engagement. More on that in a later post 🙂