Another busy week on Tour with four main highlights since my last entry.
Last week was actually my last in Chelmsford Service Centre as the Clearings Team Leader. It’s been an interesting four months there & I certainly have enjoyed it. By far & away the most stressful thing I’ve actually done in the bank, but an education & entertaining certainly. I even managed to get a lunch bought for me on both days I had in the office last week!!
However, last week was broken up by a trip to Finland. A brilliant trip. It all started on Monday evening when I travelled over to Stansted to pick up a couple of lads who were also travelling over. So we headed into Chelmsford, got something to eat & once settled, we headed back to the Airport via the bus. Once we got there… it was bedlam. We got there about 0330 for a 0410 check-in. By the time we queued there & queued at security we made our flight with 30 minutes to spare… it was a 0610 flight!! In the plane station we also bumped into three lads who I know from London – who were to turn out to be my tour companions for the trip.
I also managed to lose some items at Security. As I mentioned before I was less than impressed with the potential security procedures facing me, and so when I enquired from friends on the Monday they said that liquids were not being allowed on board… they said nothing of toiletries. So I thought my toothpaste, soap & deoderant would be fine… d’oh!! To add salt to the wound, the guy searching the bags was a right git. ignorant & rude. P’ah!
But we got there in the end… I have to be honest I slept on the plane from the moment I got on to it until the moment it hit the ground. And a pleasant sleep it was too. When we arrived in Tampere the group split, the London lads & I decided we wanted to see Tampere town whilst the two lads from Co Down decided to head straight to Helsinki. We travelled in by bus to Tampere & then headed down the town to get some local currency & something to eat. It was then we noticed the good weather, the excellent English & the Beautiful, Beautiful women. I don’t think I could possibly do the Finnish ladies justice here in words, just to suffice we now have a new rating scale for women… it goes 0 to 10 and then Finland. Amazing.
Having ate we travelled for the first time on Finnish National Rail & it was exactly what you’d expect from a country of this nature… clean, quiet, efficient and on time. And so we made it to Helsinki. We headed straight to our accomodation & I quickly found my Hostel. Now I like hostels, they’re cheap, friendly, clean. This one was very basic, not so clean & not so friendly. I couldn’t argue with the cheap bit… but I wasn’t so concerned as you tend to not spend much time in hostels when you’re actually using them.
So off down town then it was… got something to eat & then found some other NI fans… and got something to eat. We then set off around town to see the town centre a bit. We ended up meeting up with others at a cafe / bar & spending the rest of the evening in the pleasant streetside seats chatting with locals & enjoying the Beautiful women.
And so to Match Day. I found the London lads sitting at McDonalds eating breakfast… typical. So we headed off to the Stadium to see about it & to also take in the Supporters Match. As it happened, NI turned up, looked like they were going to be 2 players short & they persuaded me to play… so I borrowed a pair of boots, shorts, socks & shirt (i.e. I wasn’t ready for a game) and ended up playing 50 minutes of the 60 minute game!! As it turned out we lost 5-1, despite drawing 1-1 after 40 minutes!! I also managed to get intereviewed by a Swedish Speaking Helsinki based newspaper!!
So once sorted out with showers & back to full strength with some sustinance we were off again back to the Stadium, this time for the serious business in hand. About 300 NI fans made it to the game and we’re of course the noisy part of the 15000 crowd (stadium holds 40K and must be a sight when it’s full!!). A conga, several ditties about former rulers of Finland & a heavy rain shower later we’d won 2-1. On the seventh time of asking I’d finally seen NI win abroad. Italy, Spain, Austria, Poland, Wales & England have all come & gone… Finland was the chosen time. And we cruised it.
So a happy band of fans wanders off down the road after the game & back to the wonderful cafes & bars of the town. Another aspect I really enjoyed about Helsinki is the approach of the people to life. It’s a case of ‘your a person, I’m a person, lets just get on with it’. They allowed us to enter their classy establishments, restaurants, cafes in football shirts, jeans, trainers without a word. They also play rock music everywhere… regardless. Quality!!
And so to the final day of the trip… we decided to see more of the city & got the open top bus tour. We even managed to get it on the cheap as the English lad who was flogging the tickets let us on for half price as he was at the game the night before & really enjoyed the atmosphere!! So we split up. I intended to get the bus from Helsinki direct to Tampere airport, but unfortunately noone seemed to know where it was leaving from in the city centre… so I rushed, got a train ticket & got back to Tampere… where I met up with the Down lads & we headed to the airport where the flight was delayed by an hour… so it was in bed at 0230 on the Friday morning.
A cracking trip. Perhaps, best one yet.
And so the Friday was my last day in Clearings. Bit of a short one if truth be told but that was probably for the best. On the Saturday I travelled down to Tonbridge to have a kick about in the park with Alex & a few of his friends… including Julie Hamilton from home!! We then enjoyed the opening day of the Premiership and ended up playing PS2 games until the wee hours. Sunday as a consequence involved getting home & relaxing.
And so to this week… the start of my new job. The commute has been interesting, taking just over an hour into work & probably just over 70 mintues going home. The work has also been interesting, as I feel I’ve fitted in very quickly. Got my desk sorted out to my fashion, and beginning to understand the work already, which is encouraging. No doubt there are challenges ahead, but so far it’s been fantastic fun. Here’s to a career in Change Management!!