Diary of a redundant person: Speak the Lingo, shape your day, see a film

Here are experiences from the last couple of days:

  • I have spent the last couple of days fine tuning my CV. I did not think it would take me that long but it did, mostly because it is so important to put the right wording in it. And to mention exactly the experience they (future employers) want you to have.
    I have uploaded it to a long list of websites and I daily sent out job applications.

    The more positive side – I have been called by two recruiters who have expressed some interest in my CV. That is positive isn’t it?

  • My state of mind was horrible the first couple of days, but it is simply too energy consuming to just constantly be depressed about it all. So I have decided that I won’t be depressed anymore and I have tried to find some sort of rhythm in my days.

    Sitting behind your computer screen all day staring at your email inbox waiting for something to come in does not do you any good. It drives you crazy.
    My schedule now is:

    • get up at 8.30am, have breakfast and more importantly make a cup of tea – the Milky Way
    • concentrate and work on job applications and CVs for a couple of hours
    • shut down computer and get out of the house
    • go and do something nice (a tea in a cafe, a film in the cinema, a walk in the park)

    Simple, but it works. There are also a couple of museums in London that are long due to be visited. The London Transport Museum is definitely on the list for this week. I might as well take advantage of the fact that I have some time on my hands.

  • I know what job to go for now. I know that I probably have a slightly better chance to get an IT project manager job, but I am more focusing on a creative project manager job simply because that’s what I really want to do. There are jobs out there to apply for, I just need to find that one employer who is willing to give me a chance.

    And I don’t mind leaving London for a great job.

The cinema cheers me up. I am able to forget all about job hunting while sitting in the dark for 2 hours.

In between the long list of boring block busters I recently saw two different films that I highly recommend:

  • Bright Star about the life of poet John Keats (with the always brilliant Ben Whishaw and directed by Jane (The Piano) Campion).
  • An Education with the highly talented Carey Mulligan and Peter Sarsgaard in the main roles.

    An Education is directed by Danish director Lone Scherfig who you might know from Italian for Beginners. I love her work. The Education has been well received, so let’s hope she gets to make more films for an international audience.

Go see them if they come to a theatre near you.

Diary of a redundant person day 1: Register your CV

Hello world.

I have returned to London after a nice weekend in Devon. The weekend was great in good company of my best friend, two dogs, and lovely weather. But being back in London feels as nice as a cold shower in the morning. Not good.

I will have to try to get into some sort of working schedule at home, and I also need to get out of my room every now and then, otherwise I will go mad. Or madder.

I have spent this day fine tuning my CV and registering on websites like Reed and the Guardian. And have send off about 15 applications for various roles from programmer to project manager to content producer.

Registering your CV is a majorly time consuming activity because all those websites have their own specific formats. And worse – if you decide to apply for a job you might be transferred to the company’s website and fill in a complete new form with all your details. Can someone please develop a standard CV format that everybody can use from now on? It will make life a little easier for us job seekers.

My biggest challenges at the moment are:

How do I market myself? Am I a project manager with creative experience? Or a web developer with project manager experience? Or a creative with programming experience?

I am worried that my slightly split background is making it harder for me to get a job.

I am also not quite sure what I am looking for – but if it could just be a little bit creative it would be great.

What I do know is that I have a healthy and good working set of brain cells, and also that I am a quick learner. But how to convince any potential employers that they should give me a chance?

I also think I am willing to relocate (within reason). I am prepared to take a break from London.

And lastly a practical thing – my trip to New York – will it be a good idea to go away a whole week in November. Will I be able to enjoy it? Or will I be thinking about jobs I am missing out on because of me being away?

Decisions, decisions. Am having a major headache about it all at the moment.

I will leave you with another view from my window, taken around 15.24 (London time) today. Not bad, eh?

The Dark side

Thanks a lot for all the encouraging comments on my previous post, it really makes me feel less alone with this.

I had the talk with my boss this morning. He basically confirmed it all, I will get paid until the end of January after that I am on my own. And I don’t have to return to my office, so I bascially have three months to go job hunting in.

My head is a bit frazzled at the moment, and I don’t think I have quite gotten over the shock yet but I am OK. My good friend in Devon has invited me over for a couple of days. My first reaction was, no, can’t do that, I need to update my Cv, I need to call agencies, I need to send applications, I need to … I was stressed basically.

But even my (now ex) boss thought it would be a good idea to just take some days at the coast and clear my head. That way I will be rested and ready to face the music when I get back on Tuesday. So I am away for a couple of days.

It is the weirdest feeling. Yesterday I cycled in to work. Today I know that I am not going to return there ever again. I will really try to stay focused and devote all my time to finding a job. I might escape for a tea to my local Starbucks now and then though, as sitting in my room all day on my own will drive me crazy. I need some people around me and hopefully there will be a good job out there somewhere with some nice colleagues.

I am trying not to panic.

Have a nice weekend everyone. I will be back soon enough.

I lost my job today

This definitely wasn’t the post I was planning on writing today.

There is nothing quite like a phone call from your boss just when you are about to enter the theatre to see a play you have looked forward to.
The fact that he called to tell me that I was fired kind of took the fun out of going to the theatre completely.

I lost my job. I have until January to find a new one, then I will be without income and in trouble, as London is a bit too expensive to live in without having a job to pay the rent. I would lie if I said I wasn’t worried about all this, I am. Very worried. The credit crunch is still very much present in London (and the reason I lost my job) and I really hope there is a job for me out there because I am not ready to leave London yet.

Did I see it coming? Not this fast no. I knew the company was having a hard time, but I didn’t know it was this bad and I definitely did not expect to get fired this year. How wrong I was.

When I think back about the persistence and motivation I had when I came to London 3.5 years ago I can’t believe it was me just quitting my job and moving to London. Where did I get that courage from then? The job situation is definitely different now and it is going to be hard work the coming months. The timing is not very fortunate either. Nothing much will happen in December on the job market I am sure.

It is back to writing job applications, updating my CV and crossing my fingers in the hope that somewhere out there there is a job for someone like me. Wish me luck, I will need it.

I guess this blog will turn into a job hunting diary for a while. And if you happen to know someone who knows someone who can use someone like me (a creative multi skilled project manager with a very solid IT background) then, you know, I am right here.

In an hour I have a meeting with my boss in a Starbucks where I will hear when exactly my employment ends and if I am expected to come to the office for the remaining time.

That’s the girl in the cafe for all the wrong reasons.

Michael Jackson – This Is It

I am from the generation where Thriller was a must have item in your LP collection. And even though I won’t consider myself a hardcore fan, I think Michael Jackson has made some fantastic music.

I saw This Is It , not because I am a huge fan still but more because I was interested to see what it was all about. The film has been compiled from footage that has been shot at rehearsals in the O2 in London and gives a fairly complete view of what kind of concert could have been expected. It luckily steers clear from over the top sentiment.

A couple of observations:

  • Wow, that concert would have been a huge production. The film showed footage where they were filming new versions of the Thriller and Smooth Criminal videos and on budgets that would make any film maker dribble.
  • MJ seemed a happy man in the rehearsals. And he seemed surprisingly fit too. He had no trouble doing all his classic dance moves, nor had he any trouble singing. (He did mention several times that he wasn’t singing full out in the rehearsals though). It really makes you wonder if what the press has been reporting (that he was a wreck basically) was true, and even more so – how he could have died the way he did.
  • If you have enjoyed his music you might want to go and see this film. As Andrew Pulver writes in the Guardian, it’s a fitting tribute to a bittersweet legacy. However the tagline of the film “discover the man we never knew” is a bit misleading, as you don’t really get close to MJ at all for the simple reason that he talks very little in the film. So it’s basically a concert film, and not much more than that.

Of course I needed to dig up my Michael Jackson albums after having seen this film.
Here are my 5 favourite MJ songs (in no particular order):

  • Black or White (I still love the video of this song and who can forget Macaulay Culkin rapping).
  • Wanna be startin Something
  • Man in the Mirror
  • Earth Song
  • The way you make me feel

What are yours? (If any?) Will you go and see the film?

Glorious 39 premiere at the London Film Festival

Glorious 39

Of course I booked a ticket when I saw that Glorious 39 was going to be screened at the London Film Festival. I love Stephen Poliakoff dramas (Gideon’s Daughter, The Lost Prince are great) and he always seems to be able to assemble a fantastic cast.

And Glorious 39 does have the most fantastic cast: Bill Nighy, Charley Cox, Eddie Redmayne, Juno Temple, David Tennant, Romola Garai, Julie Andrews, Christopher Lee, Hugh Bonneville just to name a few.

Trailer

Synopsis

In the gorgeous summer of 1939, Anne (Romola Garai) seems to live a gilded life – a budding young actress, she’s the adopted daughter of Tory grandee Alexander (Bill Nighy) and head-over-heels in love with Foreign Office official Lawrence (Charlie Cox). She discovers some innocent-seeming recordings of meetings – but as she begins to understand quite what her discoveries mean, a tangled web of dark secrets begins to unfurl. People who have come into contact with the recordings are threatened and even die. The innocent certainties on which her life has been based dramatically unravel and amidst a growing sense of menace and betrayal, she has to confront the bitter choice she will be forced to make.

I didn’t know this part of British history, and the whole appeasement process that has taken place. It is rather shocking to think what might have happened if things had gone differently in the UK.

The film starts out showing the happy family of Anne but soon turns into a thriller that will glue you to your seat. I felt like someone had punched me in the stomache at the end of the film, only the best films do that. I recommend you to see it (UK premiere around the 20th of November, Europe and US hopefully later) as it is a fantastic (but shocking) film. The cinematography is amazing (it is partly shot in Norfolk) and the acting outstanding.

It was also fantastic to see Bill Nighy take on a role like this (after having seen him fighting guinea pigs (G-Force) and doing the voice of a somewhat short professor with a huge nose (Astroboy) as this is what he does best. I have never seen him turn this nasty in a film before, a great and memorable performance.

As the icing on the cake, the (nearly complete) cast and director Stephen Poliakoff showed up both before and after the film to do a short round of Q&A. I had no idea this was planned but how cool to not only see Bill but also David Tennant answering questions about this film.

Did I tell you you should go and see this film? Oh I did.

Sondre Lerche in London

Sondre Lerche in The Slaughtered Lamb

I admit that I had my doubts about a concert in a place called The Slaughtered Lamb. Even more when I entered the pub and saw that the concert was in the cellar. In the cellar – come on!

But my doubt completely disappeared when I entered the space, it was cosy and better it was filled with comfortable sofas in all shapes and sizes. I found the perfect place on a comfy leather sofa close to the performing spot, read my newspaper as I was a bit early and suddenly there was Sondre.

It was definitely the definition of less is more, it was just him and his guitar but he played for ten. If there is one comment to make about this concert it must be that he dis not play “To be surprised”. Surprisingly enough. On the other hand – he gave such a kick ass performance of Two Way Monologue that I quickly forgave him.

He plays the Royal Albert Hall tonight, a place that could not be more apart from the Slaughtered Lamb cellar, but I am sure he will be entertaining there as well. If you ever get the chance to see him, please do, he is adorable. And a great guitar player with a lot of boyish charm.

To be Surprised is here.
More Sondre Lerche on his website.

Southwold, Norfolk and painting with light

As promised here are some photos I took when we were in Southwold last weekend. It was a lovely day, with a lighthouse, and a pier where they served perfect cream tea.

Southwold has a nice atmosphere, at this time of the year it is not crowded by tourists, and when the weather is like this it is a perfect place to be. (The UK just has the most wonderful coast).

And here is another light painting experiment. Here is what we (me and my mum) did: a camera with a slow shutterspeed (15 seconds), a tripod, two small torches, and a room as dark as possible. Start drawing and be surprised at how much fun it is. This is a slideshow of a couple of our drawings. I liked the second last one best, it’s one my mum made, I don’t know how she fiddles the red colour in as the light was yellow, but it looks cool. And yes the girl is in there somewhere too

I had a nice weekend in the Netherlands, we had a nice meal with with my grandparents, we saw Paul the Leeuw which was entertaining, we cycled one of my favourite trips in my home area and I ate boerenkool with worst for dinner. What more could you want?

I hope your weekend was as good.

How to be married for 70 years

Now that little girl on the photo could be me. Actually she looks a lot like me when I was that age (what is she, 4-5 years old?). It is not a surprise that she looks like me as this is my grandmother, holding something that looks like a sheep (or is it a rabbit) on wheels.

And the photo of the little guy chilling on his dog is indeed my grandfather. (I wonder where that hat came from!)

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Why I like Twitter

(Photo by Shareski licensed under CC)

I think Twitter is dividing the world in two: people who absolutely don’t get it and people who do understand that Twitter is indeed pointless babble most of the time, but it’s also useful at times.

It took me a while before I understood the usefullness of Twitter. I mean, what could possible be useful about shooting off short 140 characters long messages in cyberspace right? And do I really need to know about what people have for lunch and what the weather is like where they live.

But maybe I can explain why Twitter is becoming more useful to me by giving you some recent examples.
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The Girl in the Chelsea Teapot Cafe

How about a post that actually does justice to the title of this blog?

I was a little early for my Saturday film and on my way to the cinema I passed The Chelsea Teapot. It is a relatively new cafe (they have been around for 3 months now) and it looked so lovely I had to step inside and have a tea there.


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San Francisco and Los Angeles – do’s and don’t s

A final wrap up post with the very last photos of San Francisco.

No further comment needed, this is indeed a very cute dog!

I had plans to both visit cinemas in LA and San Francisco, but the weather has been so marvelous that I better liked to be outside. I also found the cinemas in LA a bit too touristy. The Elwood cinema in Berkeley however looked so wonderful that I simply had to check it out.

And on my very last morning I had the choice between trying to get on a cable car or saying goodbye to the seals. Well that was not a hard choice, who needs cable cars!

Here are a couple more photos.

Things I liked in LA:

  • Santa Monica: both the beach and the 3rd Street promenade for shopping.
  • Renting a bike and cycling the Los Angeles beach bike path
  • Hollywood boulevard (for a short time)
  • Very friendly people all around

Things I did not like so much about LA:

  • the distances between the different parts of the city, LA is huge. If you don’t have a car, prepare to spent a lot of time on public transport. (I have to say that taking a bus was cheap, $1.25 for a bus ride, no matter how long! And downtown at the subway stations you could buy a day travel card for $5).
  • the lack of a centre (like in Santa Monica)
  • it is pretty hot in LA. Which is OK if you want to lie flat on the beach all the time. If you want to see things around in the city it can be a struggle in the heat.

Things I liked in San Francisco:

  • The whale watching trip. I hoped to see one whale, but ended up seeing 64. An unforgettable experience, which I recommend you to do if you are in the area. I went with them.
  • The bike the bridge bike ride. It is totally cool to cycle of the Golden Gate Bridge, the view is amazing and on the other side of the bridge you can visit Sausalito which is a very nice and cosy town. I rented my bike here.
  • Take ride on one of the beautiful vintage streetcars. Also – get yourself a Muni passport, so you can travel around cheaply on all forms of transport (including cable cars – if you manage to get on them!).
  • Have an ice cream at Ghirardelli or at the Cold Stone creamery
  • The seals, the beach, I even liked the fog!

There wasn’t anything I didn’t like in San Francisco.

And if you have the patience I can highly recommend you the train ride from Los Angeles to San Francisco on the Coast Starlight. The price for a seat (which lots of legroom) to SF was $52 and the views along the coast were fantastic. If you have more time you can continue to Seattle on this train.

It’s back in London now, where the weather is still perfect and where I had a lovely bicycle ride into work. And I am not complaining, in about 53 days I am off to New York to see a thing or two. Like, on stage. Phew, I like the poster! Let it rain!

San Francisco – day 6

Today I spent together with the lovely bloglily who invited me over to Berkeley. Berkeley is about 25 minutes by BART train (Bay Area Rapid Transit) and I had a great day. We had tea in a lovely cafe, walked around in the city, and Lily was friendly enough to lend me her bicycle, so I cycled to Berkeley University campus and had a bicycle ride in that area – the weather has just been amazing, and still is.
And I met Archie, the wonder dog, he is so so cute!

I also visited the charming Elmwood cinema in Berkeley where I both had a very first look at the US trailer for Pirate Radio (The Boat That Rocked!) with Bill and I saw Julia and Julie with Amy Adams and Meryl Streep (sweet film!).

I bought the mandatory pairs of Levi’s jeans and have started packing my suitcase. It feels like I have been away for ages, and it also feels very wrong to go home. Life here has been very good.

I do have some photos from today, I will post them when I am back in London as it is late, and I need some sleep. My flight tomorrow is 16.55 from San Francisco International airport – arrival Wednesday, 11am at Heathrow.

Bye bye USA. For now-uh!

San Francisco – Day 5 – Whale watching

If you want to do a whale watching trip you have to get up early, we had to be there at 7.30am, the boat left at 8am. There are some other things you need to consider: it can be freezingly cold (like on our trip), you get very far out on the ocean, and the waves there are huge!

I did not have any problems being sea sick, but being out this far with those waved did intimidate me. Until we saw – our first whale. The captain of the ship told us that they had seen 40 whales yesterday, which was extraordinary.

On our trip we saw … 64 whales!! 62 hump back whales (they are big), 1 blue whale (you won’t believe how big those are, much longer than our boat!) and one Orca. All in all I have been amazed about the amount of whales we saw, at some point we were in the middle of a group of 10-12 whales who were having lunch and it was an astonishing sight. They didn’t really seem to care that we were there too.

I recommend everyone (if you can handle the boat trip) to at least once do a whale watching trip. You will never forget the sight of those huge huge animals.

We haven’t seen any jumping whales, so it’s mostly backs, fins and tale photos, and the photos in no way can give you an idea of how fantastic it is to see them in their environment. But it gives some sort of idea – Photos here.

San Francisco – Day 3/4

The last two days have been relaxed. On Friday I met up with Gerry, a San Francisco local and a regular reader of my blog. He was very friendly and showed me around the city by car. We saw the Golden Gate Park, The Presidio, Ocean beach and drove up on Twin Peaks from which you have a fantastic view of the whole city.

We also crossed the Castro district which is the area of Harvey Milk (which you might know from the film “Milk” with Sean Penn). It was a great day, and thanks so much for showing me around Gerry!

Today I did some shopping, watched the kites at the kites festival at the Marina and had an ice cream in Ghirardelli. If you have a sweet tooth, it is the place to go.


There are a couple of photos here.

Tomorrow I have to get up early, the whale watching boat leaves at 8am, we need to be in the harbour at 7.30am. I bought some anti sea sickness pills just in case, but the weather is going to be good (28C predicted so it will be good to be at sea where it will be a little cooler). If we see just one whale I will be happy!

San Francisco – Day 2


Is it me or are people on the west coast of the US just friendlier than the ones in New York? I spoke about this with two ladies from the US and they agreed. In New York everyone is in a hurry, they don’t have time to be friendly. Here everybody seems friendly. Is it the weather?

Well I certainly get in a good mood of this weather, the weather today was perfect, perfect to bike the bridge.

I left relatively early as I wanted to make an early start, but then I discovered the sea lions at Pier 39 and I was sold. They were so so cute, and there were so many of them, I could watch them for hours. When I finally got myself dragged away from them it was a bit later than planned, but I was ready to bike the bridge.

Again, if you ever get to San Francisco, this is the thing you want to do. I admit that there were some stretches that were a bit steep (the bridge is high, and you need to get on top of it to cross it) but once you are up the views are spectacular. It is a fantastic trip, I ended up cycling to Sausalito where I had lunch and I took the ferry back from there to San Francisco (which was a lovely sailing trip too!).

After another visit to the sea lions and a beautiful purple sky, I am now ready to sleep. And so are my legs!

The thing I learned today about the sea lions – you can distinct between seal and a sea lion by looking at the ears. Sea lions have tiny ears, seals don’t. I had no idea.

Here are the photos. (Expect a lot of sea lions, and a lot of bridge!)

Train trip and San Francisco – day 1

The train trip to San Francisco was a long one (11 hours) but it was worth it. A big part of the trip follows the coast line and the views from the train window were fantastic.
The train arrived in San Francisco exactly on time, and I arrived safely in my hotel.

Here are a few photos from the train and trip:
Los Angeles to San Francisco by train

It was a bit weird to wake up in a new city. I didn’t have a pre defined action plan for San Francisco today, so I started off like a head less chicken. But I decided to buy a transport pass first, so I went down to the waterfront first to do so. From there I could not resist the urge to take a trip one of the wonderful vintage trams that run in San Francisco.

I actually wanted to try one of the well known cable cars too, but the queues for those were so long, that I dropped that for today.

In stead I took a bus to the ocean to see what a San Francisco beach looked like. It looked good. And the weather is perfect here. Still sunny, but just a bit more bearable.

From there I walked a part of the San Francisco Land’s End trail, which gave stunning views of both the ocean and the Golden Gate bridge (now without fog!).

There are a couple of photos here (they are not that great though!):
San Francisco – day 1

There aren’t really any photos of the city itself, but I will take care of that when I am visiting some of the sights at a later time.

If I feel fit enough tomorrow and the weather is good for it I am going to bike the bridge.

Los Angeles day 3

I spent my last day in Los Angeles preparing for my train trip tomorrow. I visited Los Angeles Union station to pick up my Amtrak ticket. Union Station must be one of the most beautiful stations I have ever seen, it is really classic and in beautiful art deco style.

I hope all goes well and that I make it on the train in time tomorrow, the Coast
Starlight train leaves at 10am (and there is only one of these trains a day) and will deliver me in San Francisco about 11 hours later.

There are some photos (not too interesting, as I haven’t done that much new today but expect Union station and Santa Monica beach) on either Picasa here or if you’d rather have them on Facebook, here they are.

Did I like LA? Well yes and no. I love the beaches, and I quite liked Santa Monica, which I have returned to every afternoon. I think Venice Beach is a bit trashy and messy but generally the beaches are fantastic, and on a lot of places they are very empty. The weather has been fantastic too which was great. It was fun to see Hollywood boulevard, but I am not too big a fan of Downtown LA. Maybe I haven’t found the right streets, but it seemed without atmosphere.

I will miss my afternoons in Santa Monica (I have been a real tourist and even bought a Santa Monica zip hoody sweater, I know, I’ll control myself better next time), but I am sure that San Francisco will have beaches too. I can’t wait to see what things look like over there.

Los Angeles Day 2

If you are ever in Los Angeles and the weather is nice, you have to rent a bicycle and cycle a part of the (very flat and car free) coastal cycle path. It is such a thrill to cycle on a path away from traffic and going straight through the beach sand. Very recommended!

I have not much more to add than that I had another great day in LA (sun + sea + beach – how could it not be a great day!) and here are the photos (more text in the captions)

Los Angeles – day 2

Oh and I had dinner (outside) at Tito’s Tacos. It’s on the opposite side of my hotel, and I spotted a queue there every evening, so I decided to give it a go. It’s a very authentic Mexican place, and lesson learned – if there is a long queue of local people – it is good!

Los Angeles Day 1

Here are the photos: Los Angeles Day 1)

Ten things I did in Los Angeles on day 1:

  • I had a great pancake breakfast in the Metro Cafe. This lovely cafe is only 50m from my hotel and has the exact right cafe atmosphere.
  • I ran into a huge film shoot in downtown LA. A complete street was blocked, they had incredibly huge cranes, and there were 4 huge catering trucks standing there to make food for cast and crew. This is LA film making in a nutshell. And this is where film making money is. They warned us for fake bullet shootings.
  • I had a lovely veggie flatbread pizza on Hollywood Boulevard. Thought it would be insanely expensive, but $8.40 for pizza and drink is cheap for a Londoner.
  • I also saw the famous Walk of Fame stood on Kevin, Jack and Ingrid. It is very touristy but I actually quite liked it.
  • I noticed you can get any Oscar you want as long as you pay.
  • I drove on the LA subway and discovered the coolest subway station ever.
  • I realised how big LA is. And with BIG. Things are very far apart, if you don’t have a car expect to spent time on public transport. Public transport in LA is looked down on, you would never see a business man on the bus in LA, unlike London where public transport is used by all kinds of people.
  • I also drove on the longest public transport bus in the US. They are not bendy busses but just very long, and the good thing is – they are airconditioned. And they take bikes, on a frame on front of the bus.
  • And the thing that made the day unforgettable: I saw three dolphins! They were playing around in Santa Monica bay. They were a bit away so I didn’t catch them on photo, but I have good hopes I will see more of them when going on my whale watching trip in San Francisco.

(Note: the photos are as they are, no post processing – I don’t have time for it!)

Am off for breakfast now, today’s activity – cycling!