Um, it's been a while. Sorry.
The last month has just been *chaotic*. First, thanks to the airspace reopening, we went to Barcelona for 3 nights to celebrate a significant birthday of mr k. We ate at Asador de Aranda for one of the most memorable meals I think I have ever had, we went to the Nou Camp for a game on the same day and we got last minute tickets to see Joaquin Cortes. It was a lovely trip and we stayed at The Patio which was unbelievably peaceful considering it was in the heart of the city.
We got back from there, just about got unpacked and sorted when we then headed south for the bank holiday weekend to stay with my mother. mr k wanted to go on a Chi Running course in London so stopping there was convenient. Unfortunately, the course started at 9am on Sunday morning. In south London. With no feasible means of mr k getting there on time, so muggins had a 2 hour round trip to take him there.
Again, we get back from there and barely time to had to unpack before I was onto the next thing. One of the things I do is volunteer for the NCT and it was my local branch's Nearly New Sale on the following Saturday. That in itself is a busy day but this time was different. Firstly, I'd "sold" flyers to local businesses in that we charged them to put their flyers in our bags. Said bags had to be stuffed so we held a "bag stuffing" night at our house on the Tuesday and then our usual meeting to check on final details. It was a late night but worth doing - it costs us nothing, but we raised £280 by flyer sales alone. Worth doing.
On top of that, I had to get items ready for sale as I was also selling and keep on top of normal life. Then, on the Friday, I had to take the children to their swimming lessons for it was test week before heading down to the sale venue to help get it all set up. On any other normal Friday, mr k would have been around to take the children to swimming but with true perfect timing, he was at a wedding. Great.
Saturday was a long day. Until recently, I was the branch treasurer so I was working alongside my successor showing her what to do on the day. It was busy, but ultimately so rewarding. We'd moved venues and not only, moved our sale to a whole new town, so you can imagine how pleased we were when we realised that takings were up 10% on last May and on a par with our November sale, which is normally busier. Our new venue, a sports hall in a secondary school, was excellent and people came. We reckon we had as many people through as at our old venue and it would appear they stayed longer and bought more. For the first time in a long time, I didn't have to visit the nightsafe after so when I walked in the door at 4pm, I was told "You're early" which said it all.
That, still, was not the end of it. As we sell on behalf of sellers, we have to add up their shares and pay them out. As a result, I came away from the sale with a file full of tags which I had to check and enter on a spreadsheet which does all the calculation. Thankfully, that only takes an hour but we also meet up to write cheques and stuff into envelopes on the Thursday after the sale. Which took me out another night and I really needed to go as I needed to explain to new treasurer what to do next. It all got done and in record time. We are a bloody great team, our branch, and we are AWESOME, let me tell you. ;)
And still, not the end. The very next day, I was off to Telford. Cue much running round from me to pack for me and children etc. The reason we were heading there was the NCT's Big Weekend which was the charity's annual conference and AGM. Normally, it's my weekend away but this year it was more of a family event so the family came and went off whilst I did "my job" - which, for this weekend, was as Regional Coordinator for the North West region. With the other coordinators from other regions, we had a slot on the Saturday which we had to rehearse. Oh yes, be afraid. Be very afraid. I went along with it but there are other more extrovert (believe it!) members of the team who had been paying more attention during the week and therefore took a more prominent role.
I also ran a workshop on the Sunday morning - which technically meant I was a speaker which got me free lunch on both days. However, this did not go to plan. I had some lovely slides on a USB stick but the PC I used wouldn't load the file properly. To make it worse, I knew the file was stored somewhere on the internet, the internet connection was slow, and when I did get there, it wouldn't let me download it. So, I winged it. I had 30+ treasurers turn up and we just talked amongst ourselves, sharing tips, explaining how to do things. Much more interactive and everyone seemed to enjoy it, barring the lady who hadn't got a clue and seems reluctant to use the accounts system.
However, on the whole, I loved the whole event. There is normally a point each conference where something makes me cry and this year, there were two. First was a lady who was speaking in the same session as our slot. She was, as it turned out, a former president of the NCT and had been involved for many years. She spoke eloquently about her work as a rep working on maternity services liaison committees, as well as training other reps and even NHS staff to work more effectively. At the end, she mentioned that her husband had recently retired and that perhaps she should too when her voice cracked. She spoke for the last 5 minutes through tears - she obviously has a huge passion for the NCT and its work, she feels she's getting on but she just can't let it go because every little bit of work makes a difference.
The second time came a short while afterwards. When the main session reconvened in the big hall, an unscheduled speaker was announced. It was Gwen Rankin, who was a founding member of the NCT. I found out later that she is 82 and whilst slightly dodgy on her feet, her mind is absolutely 100% spot on and with it. She spoke well, amusingly and touchingly and just listening to her speak made tears spring into my eyes for perhaps the second time in an hour.
There were other highlights too. A new president got elected and in my view, the right candidate won, a lovely lady called Sue Saxey. Good luck to her in her 5 year term although I'm sad it is the end of Gail Werkmeister's term as President - Sue has a lot to live up to! James McQuillan, the funny bloke from The Apprentice last year, made a hilarious speech and also made friends with my fellow regional coordinator, Geraldine. And to close conference, Davina came to conference and interviewed Ina May Gaskin on stage, who then went onto talk about her work on The Farm Midwifery Center in the US. She is truly an inspirational woman who has worked against the tide of medicalisation of birth in the US and round the world.
Beyond that, I laughed. Conference is normally how I catch up with the fantastic ladies I share my "job" with. And we did have a blast. Even the 6.30 fire alarm on the Saturday morning turned out funny in the end.
So, erm, that's it. As you can see, I've done bugger all these past few weeks. To recover, I sloped off to Titanic Spa on Tuesday night for some peace and quiet and it was fab. Tomorrow will be the first Saturday I've had at home with nothing planned for over a month (tho the men of the house are going to Wembley tomorrow to see Blackpool in the play off final).
I may be very lazy tomorrow, but hell, I'm going to enjoy it.
Do you forgive my absence now?!