Sunday, September 30, 2007

Shiny awards, stimulating conversation

Thames Barges at Maldon (C)Please do not copy without permission
In which we get to dress up and meet a Norfolk Pirate

On the 27th September I had a date - a date with Jeremy. He was dressed up to the nines, dinner suit, bow tie, cummerbund - well smart. I had to dress up too (but I wore a dress, don't have a dinner suit). We were off to an Awards Ceremony. Yes, genuine deal - stage, celebrity presenter (the athlete Colin Jackson) and bits of shiny steel to be presented to those lucky enough to have qualified for the National Training Awards.

I'm 'back office' - so how come it was me with Jeremy (award winning trainer!) at the awards? Denise (the client) and I that spent hours collating information and putting together the entry for the award. So it was only fair that we went to the award ceremony (Denise brought her team, her husband and a delegate from the course too - from a primary school in Essex).

Jeremy took me home from work and changed at our house; "you both look gorgeous" Melody said as she took a photo of us in the kitched. "Straight on" I said to Jeremy, directing him to the Guildhall in Cambridge. And he turned left. EH??!!! We went round the roundabout and back again. We arrived at the Guildhall and made conversation ("I hate networking" Jeremy said, but I made him do it anyway). I talked to a young man from Essex, an electrical engineer. He was there purely as partner to one of the award nominees. A nice lad, very excited that his partner was four months pregnant. We talked about cycling and fibre optic cable production techniques. Our colleagues from the client that we partnered for the award arrived, so we had 'friends' in the crowd who we were sharing a table with.

We won a Regional Award which is pretty special in our business, so we were very pleased. The PR game now begins! We can put on our headed paper that we're winners, so its a really good endorsement of our company. Yeah, I know we're good, now I can put something in our marketing materials that says other people know we are good too!

It takes something to get me into a dress, but it was worth it. We had a superb meal and went through all the 'pre announcement nerves' as anticipated (but no bursting into tears or anything so melodramatic). It was a good evening, Jeremy and the clients with whom we partnered to win the award, were good company too. We texted our colleagues and many replied to wish us congratulations (hey, they won it too) but our boss phoned from Morocco to say well done. Cool.

That was the Thursday. On Saturday Shani, Nickie and I went out to dinner with another colleague (also a trainer like Jeremy), Sue. She lives in Maldon, on the Blackwater Estuary in Essex. Well, as Shani an Nic have been known to be a little late on occasion, and this was a long journey, I scheduled in plenty of time. We arrived early and went down to the quay to while away some time before arriving at our host's. It was Regatta Day - the quay was littered with huge Thames Barges (I don't know, maybe they are always there?) and we looked over the estuary as the sun went down amidst a clutter of masts. Amazing things - many over 100 years old - huge, broad and shallow drafted. We walked slowly along the quay away from the hubbub of the Regatta. Two men walked behind us. We stopped, turned to photograph the sun behind the church. One of the men stopped too. "Well, come on then, if you want to take a photo of me!" So we did, in good humour, and exchanged a few words. He spoke with a Norfolk accent but, for some reason, in the manner of a pirate! Aharrr me hearties... we wuz by the sea after all.

We spent an extremely pleasant evening with Sue, enjoying good food, good company and many interesting subjects of conversation. We talked of politics, religion, the world, music, people... not about work at all. Shani and I sang some songs too, relaxed, quiet, pleasant. Sue sang along whilst Nickie tried to stay awake (two LARGE whiskies...) and Shani and I enjoyed an impromptu practice.

The journey home was long, late but pleasant. Again interesting conversation - kept me awake too. We also started singing a bit, which caused Nickie (in the back) to hunker down and wish she was actually asleep.

Home at 2.30am. A long night, but well worth it. Tall masts, stimulating conversation, Essex sunset, and a good long run in my new car.

PS: I will get some pictures on these posts soon!
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