Yesterday evening I was taking part in a careers evening at a local school and had the opportunity to talk to 14 – 16 year olds about careers in the IT industry. It was very interesting to listen to their comments about what they wanted to do, although half of them didn’t have a clue and picked up literature from every stand to take home and hopefully read.
What intrigued me was that many I spoke to don’t want to go to college full-time, but want to start earning their own money via an apprenticeship. What they said to me is that they don’t want to go to college or university because of the cost, and some of the parents even mentioned it just wasn’t affordable even with Student Loans etc.
To me attitudes seem to have changed, even from a couple of years ago when I attended the very same event as a parent with my own daughter when apprenticeships were hardly mentioned and college seemed the only way to go. Talking to other businesses that had stands in the same room as I, most of them also said that a lot of the young people were asking about apprenticeships rather than ‘traditional’ forms of education. Saying that, some of the careers, e.g. Veterinary nursing still requires you to go to college and maybe university before you can do this job.
It was certainly an interesting evening for me as it’s the first time I have attended this as an employer rather than as a parent and if I get asked to attend again next year I wonder if attitudes will still be the same?
I have had a few months where I have been suffering with a foot problem.
Back in July after about 3 weeks of constant pain I had a doctors appointment and was diagnosed with Plantar Fasciitis, an inflammation of the tendon under the foot. I was given exercises to do, some anti-inflammatories and told it could take a while to be completely healed (pun not intended). After doing some reading around the subject, doing my exercises, taking my medicine, I also bought some new trainers with support & also bought some support for my other shoes and things have progressed well.
However, I now have some discomfort under the ball of my foot, no real pain, but a discomfort nevertheless. It stops me from getting my exercise, I still cannot play racketball, can only do so many hours working outside and/or standing up! So, it was time to re-visit the doctors to see what can be done next!
Wait for it….nothing…. the condition is not bad enough and I am not old enough for the doctor to refer me to see a consultant.
Now, there is more, the doctor recognised that their was a vicious circle being created, in that with me not being able to do exercise that this would lead to more problems with my general health, but they would deal with those when they occurred.
So, that’s it then – chucked on the scrap heap!
Oh, if I did want to see a specialist, I could of course go visit one privately!
I am currently taking part in a new challenge. I have subscribed to the 30 Day Blogging Challenge via nikkipilkington.com and am trying to write 30 blogs on different subjects. The subjects vary and not all blogs are about business. I must admit that I’ve had a bit of a break from it as work/family etc have kept me busy and I struggled to continue.
To do this challenge I’ve resurrected my old blog to do the challenge and here I am on day 5, blogging on a site other than my own!
The challenge is quite hard, but in some ways that’s good. What I like about it is that each day you get an email with your blogging topic and then you can go and think about what to write. It really helps me decide what to do and after my little blogging break I must get back into it.
It’s great to have a new challenge to do and now I’ve re-started it I intend to carry on and hopefully get improve my blogging as time goes on.
If you would like to follow my challenge you can subscribe to my blog here.
I find it hard to believe that, according to the Department of Health, patients miss one in 10 hospital appointments. If this is true, it is unacceptable.
People are only too quick to criticise politicians for cutting services, but for so many health service users – that’s ordinary people – to waste resources actually being spent is appalling.
While I support the concept of a health service free at the point of delivery, I believe that it is the free nature that makes many people think that it is all right not to turn up just because the appointment becomes inconvenient. It is even more inconvenient for those patients who could have been seen and treated sooner.
Now, I know there are all sorts of reasons why someone might miss an appointment and an emergency on the day is a good one. However, when someone has warning of something that has come up, it is reasonable to make a phone call to re-arrange so that the now vacant slot can be used productively. Some would say that I am absent minded, but I always turn up or re-arrange if I know I can’t make an appointment.
So that’s the responsibility of patients, now for the responsibility of NHS staff.
A relative arranged an appointment for a blood test. They asked if they needed to fast and were told: no. Last week when they turned up they were told they should have fasted and to arrange a new appointment. My family are placid, but my relative was so furious that he turned around and walked out.
Sadly, that’s not the only instance of appointment mix-ups he has experienced and, again, I wonder how much money this wastes across the NHS.
I am not sentimental. I do not mind whether, as long as it is delivered to those who need it, care provision is provided by private or public providers. Over the past 10 years I have been in some impressive new health buildings in the UK, but sadly treatment has been variable – from excellent to appalling. Buildings don’t treat patients, people do. How many more patients could be treated if we did not waste the time of those people working in the NHS?
PS At this time I am six weeks into an eight-week wait for a hospital appointment.
I haven’t cycled for many years so when I was lucky enough to win the use of a pair of electric bicycles for the day, courtesy of Experience Exmoor, I was quite apprehensive about my ability to pedal across Exmoor. I asked Paul Clews (@paulkclews) if he would like to join me for a day of exploration and he jumped at the chance.
On a marvellous August Friday, we arrived at Waytown Farm Shop, just outside Combe Martin, where Neil Osmond met us and demonstrated how the bikes work – they assist you when pedalling and provide a range of powered assistance from eco to standard and up to maximum. Neil also provided us with helmets and panniers (for our picnic and drinks) plus all-important chargers. Neil explained the bikes’ range, how to get the best performance and when and how to charge them. After cycling round the car park a few times to acclimatise ourselves to the assistance the bikes provide when you pedal, Paul and I set off for Lynton and Lynmouth.
Once on the road, it felt exhilarating. We cycled down Coulsworthy Lane and towards the coast where the views were stunning. We really felt the benefit of the electric assistance the bikes provide on the steep Exmoor hills. They still require effort but the help makes all the difference for casual cyclists so that anyone of reasonable fitness could cycle the route we took. I’d only ever been along these lanes by car and cycling felt a lot freer: definitely one of the best ways to see Exmoor.
We stopped off at Hunter’s Inn for an ice cream and chatted to Julian Gurney (@NTExmoorRanger) before setting off once again. We cycled up to join the A39 and made our next stop at Woody Bay Station, on the Lynton and Barnstaple Railway. For a moment, I thought Paul was going to cheat and hop on to a steam locomotive!
Once again, we set off, turning left at Barbrook towards Lynton and Lynmouth. Before making the descent to Lynmouth, Paul and I stopped to discuss whether we were fit enough to cycle back up again! Pitting our adventurous spirit against common sense, we decided the question with the toss of a coin: down we went! Paul filmed the ride down with a camera on his handlebar:
Now I never thought I would ever cycle down this hill and it was even more exhilarating, especially as we whizzed past the escape lanes with emergency instructions in four languages. We were relieved that the brakes on the bikes enabled us to control our speeds and were surprised to pass Neil at the bottom in the Experience Exmoor Land Rover Discovery.
Paul and I had considered the option of taking the bikes back up on the Lynton and Lynmouth Cliff Railway and as we went round to check it out (and it does carry bikes), Neil caught us up. After gently pointing out that it would be cheating, Neil persuaded us to stick to pedal – and electric – power for the ascent.
Before we attempted this, we needed food, drink and a rest and the batteries needed charging. We popped into the Glen Lyn Gorge, one of Experience Exmoor‘s charging points, where we plugged the batteries in to charge for an hour. Meanwhile we enjoyed our picnic by the river in the sun before finding a café for a cup of tea and a glass of coke.
Suitably refreshed, we collected the bikes and, having replaced the batteries, made our way back up the hill, which required more effort and took quite a while longer than our descent.
Once in Lynton, we made our way through the stunning Valley of the Rocks, stopping off at Mother Meldrum’s Tea Room and Garden for cherry pie and clotted cream and a small charge for the batteries. Even with electric assistance, our bodies needed fuelling.
For the return we cycled along the cliff road, passing the White Lady, Lee Abbey and stopping frequently to enjoy the sea views. By now we were tiring. Even though it was a hot day and I was not used to cycling like this, we still found energy reserves to cycle back through Woody Bay and Martinhoe, passing back past Hunters Inn, resisting the urge for a pint.
When we turned off the road to hand the bikes back to Neil, I felt a little twinge of regret. I wanted to cycle mine home!
Looking over the day, the electric bikes certainly enabled Paul and me to experience Exmoor in the best way possible. I want to do it again and have rediscovered cycling.
For anyone thinking about trying out Experience Exmoor‘s electric bikes, I would thoroughly recommend them. They are easy to ride and make climbing the steep hills accessible for those of who aren’t born athletes. After 20+ miles of energetic cycling, I woke up the next morning with few aches.
I’d like to thank Neil and Christel at Experience Exmoor for opening up my eyes to the beauty of Exmoor in a way that I hadn’t got round to experiencing before.
I’m not sure whether I’ve ever drunk an energy drink. Certainly, from what I’ve heard about them and the list of ingredients I’ve read on cans, I would not choose to drink them. However, I do like to give things a try. For all I know, they could be delicious and I could be doing them a disservice because I don’t know what they are like.
A number of years ago, I did testings of so-called premium lagers. I managed to drink all of nearly every one I sampled, although I do remember pouring most of one bottle down the toilet. The result of this test was to confirm that bitter has more flavour . . . and less gas.
But back to energy drinks: I would like to test them, but I really don’t want to drink a whole can of each one.
So I was wondering if anyone else in North Devon is similarly curious enough to join me in an energy drink taster session where we could all have a sip of various brands interspersed with water to cleanse the taste buds.
Is this a good idea or am I suffering from a dose of summer madness due to the recent hot weather?
This morning I had the pleasure of attending and presenting at the BmyOffice open day. Stacey kindly asked me to present a short workshop on ‘What is CRM?’ and it also gave me an opportunity to introduce to the audience ConvallisCRM, a CRM application that we have developed here at Convallis Software. This was a great opportunity for me to be able to introduce and promote my business, and in particular our expertise in the CRM sector and how useful it is to business to a wider audience, and at the same time help promote BmyOffice and the services that they offer.
Although I was nervous to start with, the feedback I have had was very positive, and those that attended also helped promote my business via social media channels such as Twitter that helped spread the word even further.
If you ever get the chance to do anything similar I would say go for it, sometimes when you are networking or marketing you don’t get the chance to let people understand fully your expertise, presentations give you the opportunity to do this and to get interesting questions or feedback from your audience.
The propellor system was fixed after many flushings through and emptying and refilling. This took us to to gone midnight and I had probably managed 3 hours sleep in 36. My body was ready for bed.
A quick beer ,bed and 5 hours later it was a new working day. Every limb was aching.
The ship was continuing its loading operation. we were carrying general supplies, food, beer, a helicopter, fire engine, cars , Martell surface to air missiles and most importantly The Christmas presents for all in Ascension and the Falklands.
Our own food turned up and it was every one to the task. Customs were suspicious that 300 cases of beer for 8 men on a 3 month round trip to the Falklands was a bit steep but the Captain informed them it would all go. Not knowing, but a cold beer was going to be our salvation. Oh we had a couple of kennels on board as we carried sheepdogs down to the Falklands and Jack Russell terrier who was soon snapped up by one of the crew.
So when all was done we slipped our moorings (all the trapped oil spread across the dock and in went a pollution prevention vessel) and were on our way to the Falklands. We sailed mid afternoon and by 6pm were under full steam to the Falklands with me taking the me on duty. On the Barbara E (sister vessel) the Chief did a duty but this Chief didnt so it was duty everyother night which can get tiring.
With all settled down I put the engine room to unmanned and retired for something to eat , a quick beer and some sleep.
I managed the eating and a beer but sleep evaded me as engine room alarms started to ring.
The weather was really rough in the Channel and all sorts of level alarms were going off. Some I managed to stop by adjusting the delay time but when you get a high exhaust temperature and the turbocharger barking at you its serious . The weather meant we just had to slow down a tad to reduce the high temperature until it was safe to stop. A cylinder head change was due and this takes around 2-3 hours.
Due the lack of sleep of all the personnel it was decided that the 2nd engineer and I would do watches of 6 hours on 6 off with the Chief looking after the refrigerated containers on deck. I couldnt wait, 5 hours straight sleep.
We anchored in Torbay to change the cylinder head which is a routine operation but on leaving the Chief Officer hauled the anchor in but there was nothing on the end. The anchor had dropped of and wanted to stay in British waters. Oh so I wished for that as well although they couldnt imprison us in the middle of the Ocean. We achieved that ourselves.
On Saturday the family and I attended the National Armed Forces Day event in Plymouth. The main reason was that my two daughters were taking part with the Devon Army Cadets Corps of Drums and this was one display that wasn’t to be missed.
There was so much going on – static displays of aircraft and other vehicles, stalls, displays, music, the Red Arrows and much more. What was wonderful to see was the cadets and members of the different armed forces wandering around with their families looking so proud and magnificent in their uniforms.
It is certainly a day that I won’t forget in a hurry, a definite proud parent moment when I watched my girls and the rest of the band enter the arena and perform their display. Even though I have seen it many times, this is the largest event they have ever done and they did it without fault. The reaction from the crowd to them and the other events going on and the sense of appreciation for our forces on this day I certainly felt proud to say I’m British and part of this.
How many times have you sat in a doctor’s waiting room listening to all the coughs and sneezing and wondered whether you’ll leave with more ailments than you arrived with?
An amusing thought, but with superbugs in hospitals, it’s a very serious topic.
My local GP surgery has introduced an automated booking-in system which I think is great. It asks me my month of birth, the day and the first letter of my surname and books me in for my appointment automatically.
Very efficient, but I wonder how hygienic it is as it uses a touch-screen which every user must touch. I’m sure there’s a container of hand cleaner at the surgery entrance (and I always wash my hands before popping down the road to the surgery), but is it still possible to pass on germs and bugs using such a device?
Then I got to thinking about the possibility of a system which sends a QR code or other token to your mobile phone which you could then display to a reader at the surgery to provide contact-free check-in. Or perhaps it could work using Bluetooth? I’m sure there’s an idea there and maybe someone is already using or developing it.
Anyway, that was how I spent my time in the doctor’s waiting room recently and, just to make sure, I did wash my hands thoroughly when I got home.