Sunday, 26 January 2014

'the times they are a changin' - again

As usual, life has been hectic since returning from my short break in Amsterdam. We all had a great work's Christmas at the SEA Awards (staff excellence awards). I was nominated and made the finals of our categories but didn't quite make the winners rostrum. Great to be voted to that stage though by your colleagues. But what a great night.

The class of Room 39. Paul, my manager (and now book agent,) is second from left, with Matt, the HLF officer at centre back

Yet another office Christmas do. Class of Room 39 enjoying their meal.
Class of Room 39 with me at the back on the left.
All things Yuletide, and as part of my yearly events plan, I organised the first 'Christmas at Cassiobury' event just before the holidays.

Santa arriving on his husky dog sled

The staff Christmas bash was great but in contrast, surviving the first 
Christmas at home without my father was difficult, especially for my mother. But both of us with the help of friends and close neighbours managed it well enough. We kept busy and did what most of us women do to keep our minds off things - we hit the sales!

                 Mum, me and friend Sue enjoying a respite from some retail therapy over
the Christmas period.
Arriving back in Watford, cash poor but matching shoe and handbag rich, I've embarked on another adventure. I've worked out that since the age of 17 when I first left home to live in Bristol, I've moved (more or less), 25 times into different forms of accommodation. Since selling up my own flat in London where I lived for a decade over 20 years ago when I worked in Fleet Street, I've enjoyed all my different rented abodes including moving around the country and I'm now moving into a rented, one bedroom, unfurnished flat on the site of Watford's original orphanage. 

Lovely flat - bijou and compact (one person ok but one person plus an armchair is a crowd- type of place) and it does have a light, welcoming ambience. Definitely, a 'bring a bottle and a shoehorn' flat warming invitation sort of place. But hey, it's in a really quiet, leafy, off road location and only a short 5 minute walk into town and the railway station. I like it.

Sharing accommodation has been good for me but this last year I've been wanting to spread my wings; you know, being able to cook without waiting in a queue, desperate to be allocated more than one shelf in the fridge and yearning for the freedom to dance naked around the front room - well I won't be doing that as I haven't got the curtains up yet but the sentiments the same. But more than anything having somewhere to put my books. Have I missed those since flat surfing around the country! Libraries are great but I do yearn to be surrounded by my own. At least now I can start up my collection again with a new book just published and the first for the new flat.

My manager's latest book, London's Royal Parks, is now out on Amazon (Shire Books) in which, eight of my photos are published. It's the second book I've had my photos in and a tadge  more sophisticated than my last called, 'A Day in the Life of Farmer Jones'. At least with the latest one, I wasn't taking photos while up to my armpits in stinking slurry.

My manager's latest book

inside the front cover
another of the eight photos of mine included in the book
The next book we are planning, the Heritage of Cassiobury Park, has been approved by my manager's publishers and will be a hard back; a mixture of the amazing history of the park and the people who created and shaped it over the centuries, as well as the effect of the encroaching metroland . Watch this space !

Part of my work is to give talks to groups around the county about the Heritage Lottery project to improve and rejuvenate the park. The work we are doing in preparation for the bid in February has been manic but up in London recently, at a consultants and architects meeting, to discuss the latest finalised design of the proposed visitor centre, I was amazed at how it's developed since those early ideas and sketches only last year. And in 5 years to be looking back at the changes to the park and having great pride in being a part of those developments will be a fantastic feeling.

meanwhile I still keep taking photos in the park. Cassiobury Park is a magnet for photographers and artists.
view of Cassiobury Park with the iconic Cedar and Whippendell Woods beyond

One of my regular volunteer groups helping me to build compost pens from recycled
wooden pallets for my Orchard project in the park. These volunteers are students with
learning difficulties from the local West Herts College.
 Tai Chi in the delightful landscape of Cassiobury Park.

Socially it's been hectic too. Usually this takes the form of getting a bunch of us from work and heading off either to rugby, the pub, cinema, theatre and Ronnie Scotts Jazz Club. Then, of course, there is always shopping. 
I did succumb to wandering into Heals and Habitats in London after the Design team meeting the other day! After promising myself I would wait until I was actually in the flat before buying, I came out an hour later with two cushions and a kettle. ahh well. Temptation overcame me in the end. Nice cushions though.                     

    Myself, and work colleagues, Kelly, centre, and Prema having a laugh and heading
for the bar at half time, on a soaking wet day watching Saracens rugby.
getting a soaking with work colleagues, Gary and Prema while watching Saracens Rugby
With the move in a few days, I shall be busy settling in but lots more social events coming up, including another visit to Ronnie Scott's to see Kyle Eastwood (Clint Eastwood's son) with the gang from the office.
Meanwhile it's back to the packing.
(c) all photographs and contents of this blog are copyright of Deborah Anne Brady