Final Week at Work

It’s been nearly two years since we first started the emigration ball rolling, but we’re now finally in our last working week at Oldham College. It seems like we’ve been talking about it forever – I can’t go anywhere on campus without someone asking “how long now, Nick?” and I’m usually able to tell them exactly how many days to go. 😕

The answer today is “3 days” as we both finish work on Friday lunchtime. \:d/

So this week is all about handing things over to other people within the department. I don’t know who will be replacing me: I’ve purposely kept well out of all discussion about that subject. The job is definitely available though and all of the Network Support team have been invited to apply. Whoever gets it will leave a hole somewhere, so there are likely to be other opportunities elsewhere. :-??

Most things are already organised, but I’ll have another meeting with Pete and Jon later this week to tidy up any loose ends. I need to sort out my desk drawers and get all the important paperwork into some sense of order. I need to cancel things like my DSL and work credit card. I also want to spend a few hours acquainting myself with some of the technical things that the department have implemented which I haven’t been able to try hands-on for myself. @-)

Yesterday I was invited to the Learning Resources department’s Staff Development Day. I was told that they wanted to raise a few issues that had been causing problems in the Learning Centres this year. It was a set up. When I got there they presented me with a card and a bottle of wine and thanked me for all my efforts, it was totally unexpected and really nice of them. They’re a good bunch of people, always cheerful, enthusiastic and patient with the students (and techies). Hopefully some of them will keep in touch. :-h

It’s a strange feeling quitting your job when you’ve not got another one lined up. It was very scary at first, but I’m quite relaxed about it now. I’m just looking forward to a few weeks off while we settle in and then I’ll set about finding work. I’ll only start to panic when the savings start to run out. :-ss

Photos back online

I’ve just updated the PhotoPress plug-in that I use for the Photo Albums on this blog. It was 9 versions out of date so, not surprisingly, everything broke following the upgrade.

Everything should now be working again and I’ve added a couple more galleries:

  • House – “Before” and “After” pictures of the house and garden during the recent DIY. A big thank you to everyone who lent me their tools after ours had been shipped.
  • Oldham – A few snapshots of the neighbourhood and other places worth remembering. I’ll add to this one over the next few days.

We’ve got a few undeveloped films that have been knocking around for a couple of years. If they turn out OK I’ll upload those before we go, to save taking the originals with us. (Not much room in the suitcases now!)

Farewell Meal at the Blue Tiffin

On Wednesday evening I went out for a farewell meal with a group of other managers from the college.

We went to the Blue Tiffin Indian restaurant on Shaw Road. It’s an odd place: Perched in the middle of a retail park, it seems completely out of place, but inside it’s quite contemporary with lots of glass, beech and leather furniture. I’ve probably eaten there a dozen times and have always enjoyed the food and atmosphere.

Ten of us made it this time: Bob, Roger, Jeanette, Angela, Jacqui, Dave, Tony, Jim, Sally and myself. It was a very enjoyable evening, sharing funny stories about my time at the college and having a good old grumble and gossip. The lamb jalfrezi and mushroom pilau rice was, as always, superb.

At the end of the evening, Dave presented me with a remarkable hand-drawn cartoon – “Nick’s Adventures in the Outback”. The attention to detail is incredible, he’s a very talented artist as well as a thoroughly decent bloke. Sally, whose aunt lived in the same Melbourne suburb we are moving to, gave us a cute pair of cuddly Koalas.

It was nice that so many of these people were able to make it. I’ve really enjoyed working with them all, particularly this last couple of years once I’d grown into the role and things weren’t so stressful. They’re definitely the “good guys” at the college and I hope I find as decent a bunch wherever I end up in the future.

Edit: I’ll upload a scanned version of Dave’s picture as soon as I can.

Bon Voyage Party

Last night was absolutely brilliant. Thanks to everyone – friends, family, neighbours and colleagues, past and present – for coming up and giving us such a fantastic send off. :d

Steve at the King’s Arms did us proud with his Ozzie-style “beach” barcbecue and we were lucky with weather, being able to stay outside all night. All the hats and decorations were superb. <:-p Doing the rounds and mingling with everyone was really dfficult when you want to sit down and have a good long chat with everybody. It was emotional, especially for Sara who is leaving family behind, and a few tears were certainly shed. :(( I was completely unprepared for the speech, of course, so I hope I didn't leave anyone out. :">

We are touched by all the cards, gifts and good luck messages that people have given us. Thanks everybody, we’ll really miss you all. 😡

The Sensible Silly Bet

You can’t watch the World Cup without having a bit of a flutter, so yesterday afternoon a few of us from work stuck a couple of quid in the kitty and had a silly one.

Inspired by something I read on a message board, we decided to have a 22 match accumulator backing “dead certs” in the Group stages:

  • Germany vs Costa Rica
  • England vs Paraguay
  • Sweden vs Trinidad
  • Mexico vs Iran
  • Portugal vs Angola
  • Italy vs Ghana
  • Czech Republic vs USA
  • Republic of Korea vs Togo
  • England vs Trinidad
  • Mexico vs Angola
  • Italy vs USA
  • Czech Republic vs Ghana
  • Switzerland vs Togo
  • Ukraine vs Saudi Arabia
  • Spain vs Tunisia
  • Poland vs Costa Rica
  • Germany vs Ecuador
  • Paraguay vs Trinidad
  • USA vs Ghana
  • Brazil vs Japan
  • Spain vs Saudi Arabia
  • France vs Togo

The idea of a 22 match accumulator is a bit daft but you can actually see those results coming in, can’t you?

The odds we got for this are 6067/1 so our £15 stake could return £91000!

Edit: So far so good. Germany beat Costa Rica so out stake is now £18.75 going in to the second game. Come on England!

Edit II: Steve has had a new projector and large screen installed at the King’s Arms so that’s where I’ll be watching the game.

Edit III: England scrape through so there’s now £28.12 going on the next game.

Edit IV: Bollocks. You useless Swedish tarts.

Band Contest

Printers Arms
Yesterday was Whit Friday so we decided to take in the Saddleworth Band Contest for the first time in about ten years.

As a kid I remember going to the band contest in Lees every year – armed with a peashooter, of course – and as a teenager it was a great excuse for a bit a pub crawl to Uppermill, Delph and Dobcross.

If you’ve never been to the band contest, here’s a website which pretty much sums up what it’s about. Or you could watch the film “Brassed Off“.

In recent years I’ve always forgotten about it or the weather has been poor, but not this year. We finished work at 4 o’clock and headed out as soon as we got home.

A quick pint in the King’s and then a leisurely stroll up to Denshaw, pausing for refreshments in the Printers and the Black Horse on the way. It was all very pleasant, standing in the shady square outside the Oddfellows Club, enjoying the beer and the bands – even though most people, except the bands, don’t really care about the competition.

We were joined by Wayne from work, who’s always up for a beer or two on Band Contest day, and bumped into loads of people we know, including Max & Diane and Claire & Richard.

Winding down at work

I’m winding down at work, making sure that all loose ends are tidied up before I go. I’m trying not to take on any new projects now, but we managed to get a few important things done last week during half term:

  • We took the opportunity to introduce Windows 2003 Release 2’s improved printer management features. We are now able to easily assign network printers using Group Policy rather than using scripts. After a few teething troubles, things seem much more intuitive and reliable.
  • I’ve simplified the Startup and Login scripts, making them easier to maintain. Chopping out all the printing bits and bobs sped them up quite a bit too.
  • We’ve looked at trying to force USB memory sticks to always appear in Windows Explorer as drive letter U, rather than appearing as the next available drive letter. We eventually came across a little utility called USBDLM which seems like it will do the trick.
  • I’ve had my first “handover” meeting to identify things that I need to do before I go to make life easier for whoever takes over from me. Things are running smoothly, so it’s just a case of going through all my scripts, programs, documents and contacts to make sure the relevant people know how things work etc.
  • The enrolment area has been set up for use. In a couple of weeks it will all need packing up and moving elsewhere due to major building works taking place in the Tower Block this summer. Since I won’t be here to see it through, I’ve taken a backseat in organising the comms and data for these new offices, leaving it to the Estates department and Jon to sort out.

Only 17 working days to go! :d

England 6 – 0 Jamaica

My very last trip to Old Trafford. A nice sunny day, party atmosphere and plenty of goals. :d

It could only have been better if our daft 100/1 bet had come in. (7-1 wasn’t actually such a bad bet, as it turned out). 8-|

Peter Crouch, of all people, managed to grab a hat-trick. I’m sure the “Faking It” producers will be pleased with that footage when they expose his entire football career as a wind-up; he’s done well for a bricklayer. The other highlight was Jamaica’s national anthem – I’ve never heard anything like it, I’m sure the singer was making it up as he went along! :-”

I’m not confident that England will do anything at all in the World Cup, but if they somehow reach the final I’ll be watching from Melbourne at stupid-o’clock in the morning. 😮