Now that I’ve left Wallingford, have moved back home to Four Oaks, and have a new job, I thought it was a good time to write another ‘day in my life’ blog. My new job involves a lot of travelling to not very exotic locations – since starting I’ve visited the Reading, Exeter, Warrington, Nottingham and Sheffield offices – so I thought I’d pick a typical working day.
05:30 – My alarm wakes me
I used to complain about my 07:00 alarm and found getting out of bed a chore. I would now give anything for such a late morning alarm; my new job means that I have to get up at 05:30 and leave the house at 05:59. So far, the mornings have been so light that getting up an hour and a half earlier hasn’t been too much of a chore. I’m not looking forward to the darker mornings.
05:35-05:59 – Have a wash, get dressed, make a cup of tea and brush my teeth
My weekday morning routine is still predictable. I’ll drag myself out of bed, nip to the loo, get dressed, put the kettle on, check I’ve packed everything I need for work and then spend five minutes drinking a cup of tea. I’ve worked out that in order to have a relaxed walk to the train station, I need to leave the house just before 06:00. Any later, and I have to power walk there, any earlier and I find myself waiting on the platform dodging the early morning vapers. I’m still very much a get up and go type of person and I’m still neglecting my skincare regime.
06:00-06:20 – Walk to the train station
The walk to the local train station takes anything between 15 and 18 minutes, it all depends on how my legs feel, how much traffic there is, and if I find myself walking behind Morning Cigarette Man (MCM). If I find myself walking behind MCM, I tend to slow down as I hate the smell of cigarettes, especially first thing in the morning.
I think it’s pretty safe to say that I miss my morning walks into the Wallingford office; I used to be in the office 30 minutes after leaving my lodgings. It’s definitely a case of welcome to the real world Emma!
06:20-06:50 – Train into Birmingham New Street
I experimented with a few trains, but prefer to catch the 06:20 train as it’s reasonably quiet and gives me 10 minutes to walk across to Birmingham Moor Street station to catch the 06:59 train to Solihull. On this particular morning, however, I had a meeting in a different office, so found myself with a 30 minute wait for the train down to Reading. I could have treated myself to an extra 20 minutes in bed!
06:50-07:30 – Breakfast and a spot of reading
Although Birmingham New Street station was lovely and peaceful, all of my favourite food outlets were closed as it was so early.I ended up grabbing something for breakfast in M&S and spending 25 minutes reading a couple more chapters of ‘Outrunning the Demons’. I got so engrossed in the book I almost missed my train and had to rush down to the platform.
07:30-09:10 – Train from Birmingham to Reading
The train was surprisingly quiet between Birmingham and Banbury, full and standing between Banbury and Oxford, and virtually empty between Oxford and Reading. I’m sure that most of my colleagues work while they are travelling by train. After trying and failing to get my work laptop to connect to the dodgy train WiFi, I read a couple more chapters of ‘Outrunning the Demons’ waved at Didcot Power Station and in the general direction of Wallingford, and reminisced about the day I ran Didcot parkrun. That was a good weekend.
09:10-09:20 – Grab some lunch from Pret
The train reached Reading on time, this meant that once I’d worked out how to scan my e-ticket to get through the ticket barriers, I had time to grab some lunch from Pret.After looking through the various options, I decided to play it safe and grabbed myself a Hoisin Duck salad wrap. As I was feeling quite hungry, I treated myself to a second breakfast and purchased a couple of croissants.
09:20-09:30 – Walk to the Reading office
I power walked to the office as I was aware that I needed to dial into a telecom at 09:45. Before I could dial into the telecom I had to find a spare desk so that I could set up my laptop. Luckily, the lady on reception recognised me, I’d remembered my work ID, and there were plenty of spare desks.I sat down next to one of my colleagues from Wallingford, set up my laptop and went into ‘work mode’.
09:30-12:30 – Work
The highlight of my morning was catching up with some of my hydrology colleagues from the Wallingford and Reading offices. I’d clearly picked a good day to be in the Reading office as most of the National Hydrology Team were there for a meeting. I managed to get a couple of technical queries answered and also made some enquiries about incident roles. The morning flew by and two telecoms and a webex later, it was time for lunch.
12:30-13:00 – Lunch
One of the unwritten ‘rules’ of my old team was that whenever possible, we all walked down to the Manor House for lunch as a team. This doesn’t happen in my new office, although there’s a canteen, people seem to head off for lunch in smaller groups, I’m yet to be asked to join any of these groups. I’ve got used to popping down to the canteen, grabbing myself a sandwich and then eating my lunch alone at my desk.
A rather lengthy webex meant that I wasn’t able to head up to the canteen for lunch until 12:30. Completely out of character for me, I think my colleagues from Wallingford were starting to get a little concerned that I was feeling unwell. Sitting down and eating with my old team made me realise why I’m missing working in Wallingford so much; in my new office I’m no longer part of a team and to be completely honest I’m finding it quite difficult. I’m sure I’ll adjust soon.
13:00-17:00 – More work
Highlights of the afternoon included some hydrology-related discussions, helping one of my Wallingford colleagues with a technical permitting query, getting one of my CIWEM competencies drafted out, and responding to a lot of emails. Deleting over 500 emails felt great.
17:00-17:30 – Networking
I shut down my laptop, packed up my belongings and headed down to the location of the CIWEM meeting and the reason I’d spent the day in Reading. In an ideal world I would have spent the 30 minutes before the meeting talking to people from a range of organisations. I hate networking with a passion, so I spent the 30 minutes talking to someone I went to university with. They work for another organisation so it looked like I was networking.
17:30-19:10 – CIWEM meeting
One of my main aims this year is to become a Chartered Member of CIWEM. I’ve got more than enough experience, it’s just a case of finding the time to complete the lengthy application form. I need to attend meetings to keep up to date on hydrology, so when a colleague sent me information about a free evening meeting in Reading, I instantly hit the ‘register’ button.The meeting was thought provoking and made my long day feel worthwhile. There were a couple of presentations; the first considered how the latest UK climate projections will impact my organisation, the second looked at the potential impacts of climate change on river flows. I personally found the second talk more interesting as it introduced me to lots of the latest hydrology models and projects.
19:10-19:15 – Walk to Three Guineas
The meeting was due to finish at 19:30 but thanks to a speedy Q&A session, finished 20 minutes earlier. This gave me just enough time to stop off for a pint with one of my colleagues from Wallingford. Sometimes my priorities are a little suspect for a runner. Five minutes after the meeting finished I was inside the Three Guineas ordering a couple of pints.
19:15-19:40 – Quick drink with a colleague
As it was so warm in the bar area, we headed to the outside seating area and found an empty table. I wish I could remember the name of the beer I ordered – something to do with tea – as it tasted amazing and was almost too easy to drink.The 25 minutes passed by far too quickly and at 19:40 I reluctantly said “goodbye” to my colleague, headed to the train station and tracked down the 19:45 train back to Birmingham.
19:45-21:25 – Train from Reading to Birmingham
The train back to Birmingham was so quiet, I had my own personal carriage. I know that Birmingham isn’t exactly the most desirable of locations, but I expected to see a few people on the train. I didn’t find having my own carriage very relaxing as I kept thinking someone could walk in, attack me and no one would know. I can only assume that the pint of beer I’d consumed was stronger than I realised. I was also too scared to use the loo on the train as I didn’t want to leave my workbag and laptop unattended. Luckily for me, the train arrived in Birmingham several minutes earlier than scheduled so I just about had time to nip to the loo before I had to catch the Four Oaks train.
21:35-22:00 – Train back to Four Oaks
The local train back to Four Oaks unfortunately was anything but peaceful. I spent the journey listening to crap ‘phone’ music while trying not to make eye contact with a group of lads smoking weed. The 25 minute journey felt like it lasted over an hour.
22:00-22:20 – Walk home
Much as I think that Four Oaks is a safe area, when it’s dark, I’m not a huge fan of the walk from the train station to my house. I get that Birmingham City Council are skint, but a few more working streetlights would make people feel safer. The walk back home was probably getting into PB territory.
22:25-22:35 – Let myself in and make beans on toast
On the train journey home I realised that I hadn’t eaten since lunch. As I didn’t want to go to bed feeling hungry, I looked in the pantry and decided to play it safe with beans on toast. Not the most sophisticated food option but better than eating nothing.
22:35-22:45 – Shower etc
I never shower in the mornings and still go to bed with wet hair. Although it was getting late, after travelling on four different trains, a shower was a must. I love heading to bed feeling clean, the extra 10 minutes in the morning are an added bonus. Anyway, I brushed my teeth and had a great shower, I don’t think I need to go into any more detail.
22:50 – Climb into Bed
I usually aim to be in bed by 22:30 at the latest. Unfortunately, my evening meeting and journey back from Reading meant that this wasn’t an option. I usually like to read for a few minutes, however, it was so late I decided to leave my book for another night.
23:00 – Lights Out
I was so shattered, I pretty much fell asleep the second I switched my bedside lamp off. In an ideal world I’d get at least 8 hours’ sleep a night. My new routine means that I’m only getting between 6 and 7 hours’ sleep a night. At least my insomnia isn’t quite as bad as it was when I lived in Wallingford.
I hope that you enjoyed reading about what is now a normal working day for me. When I worked and lived in Wallingford, after leaving the office I’d either head to the pub or to a restaurant with one of my colleagues. Some Wednesdays I’d head along to ‘Beer and Bants’ sessions, these were a great way of meeting people from the office outside of work. My weekdays featured far too much alcohol and my bank balance and waistline suffered.
My weekends are still quite mundane, but I’m gradually pushing myself out of my comfort zone more and trying new things. I don’t want to go into too much detail just yet, but being back home means that I’ve been able to try out some new sports.
As always, if you made it to the end of this blogging masterpiece then a huge thank-you. I’m quite nosey and love reading about other people’s lives, I hope that you enjoyed reading about mine. I included a lot of train related photos because at the moment I seem to spend a lot of time on trains 🙂