North and South

A week off between jobs was the ideal opportunity to visit friends in Aberdeenshire.  They have renovated a watermill and created a totally unique gift shop and tea room.  The waterwheels are fully functioning and it’s very special to have your tea and cake with the sound of the water hitting the big wheel as it turns.

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Eden Watermill

If you are ever in the Banff area, call in to Eden Watermill, the scones are the best ever and you will have the warmest welcome.

Eden Watermill is also the home of Needlenose Creative Arts, a stunning range of Harris Tweed handbags and accessories, all designed and handmade by Elaine.  Elaine is also a qualified kiltmaker, which is an extremely difficult thing to achieve, as it demands huge amounts of tartan fabric to be measured, cut and pleated with incredible precision, and stitched by hand.  It takes many, many hours to make a kilt, from taking bespoke measurements to the finished article.  Elaine has used these skills to great effect in her original and bestselling handbag, the ‘Wee Kilty,’ a bag with a hand-pleated kilt panel on the side.

The weather was amazingly good, and although time was short we squeezed in a visit to Fyvie Castle, a fairytale castle with lots of turrets and a fascinating interior.

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Fyvie Castle

The walled kitchen garden is wonderful, the largest, neatest and most elegant veg patch I’ve ever seen!

Less glamorous but not without interest was a visit to Peterhead, the most easterly point of mainland UK, a deep water harbour with a long history of fishing and of servicing the North Sea oil rigs.  I love sea ports as my father was a sailor and I grew up by the sea, so I loved finding out about the hidden tunnels built by smugglers in days gone by, and the 150 year old dry dock.  Even on a fine summer’s day it was bleak and extremely windy, but not without a sense of humour.

Below is the dry dock and some local wisdom from outside the optician’s on the high street.  Totally agree!

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My constant companion during my visit was Belle, the jack russell terrier.  She knows no inhibitions and leapt onto the bed every night and burrowed under the duvet, usually with her ball.  Some dogs have such huge personalities!

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After a couple of days back home in Sheffield, I was off ‘down south’, to Hastings in East Sussex, to start my new job with an induction at the company’s head office.  I am a Sussex girl and used to visit Hastings as a kid on family day trips, but I’d not been there for many years.  As a kid it was all about the beach and the amusements, but now I was charmed by the old town, the medieval streets, the castle and the view from the clifftops.

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There’s a huge amount of history to discover in this area, invasions and battles, the changing shape of the shoreline, and more recently how the place was affected by the Second World War.

Now back home and settling in to the new job. So glad I made the move, it feels really good so far, very happy to be back in the heritage and tourism sector.  That’s what I’m drawn to, even on my days off, so I’m lucky to be able to weave in my interests with my day job.

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When being bold pays off

Is it really true that you make your own luck in this life?  Maybe.  I just landed a job by using some initiative and making a bold move.  I have a very niche set of skills and experience which is under-valued in my present workplace, so for some time I’ve not felt as fulfilled as I could be professionally.  I’ve also been coasting on the same income for years, feeling that I should be earning more.  Had I hit some kind of career ceiling?  Was I the victim of prejudice?  No, I don’t think so.  In any case, I don’t believe that claiming victimhood is a good way of explaining a problem or a lack of progress.

I’ve been following Jordan Peterson and we have a copy of his book, 12 Rules for Life.  One thing he said about gender equality really struck a chord with me. To paraphrase, he suggests that women may be less successful in the workplace, or may not advance as far as men professionally, not because of any inherent sexism, but because they are too nice, too accepting, too reluctant to make a fuss. Ladies, could it be that we are just not assertive enough when it counts?

I took this idea on board, parked it, and got on with things. Then an ex-colleague got in touch and we met up for a drink.  He works in the exact niche field that I had to leave last year because my employer was in financial difficulty.  He said they really needed someone with my specific skills to take over some of the management and unite disparate teams.  If I applied to the MD, he said, they would employ me in a flash.  Well, that was overstating the case, but it got me thinking.  The more I considered it, the more I realised he was right.  In fact, my experience is so relevant to the product and the people that no-one would fit the role as well as me.  Sounds arrogant?  Maybe, but this is all about being bold.

The other thing in my favour was that I had actually met the MD before, at a trade show, where he was so impressed with my presentation that he expanded his range into the market as a result.  I also knew that there was a culture clash going on between departments and they needed someone with the calmness and maturity to diffuse it.  So I added ‘peacemaker’ to my CV, wrote an amazing covering letter, and sent it off.  No job was being advertised.  Bold move #1.

Then followed a couple of phone calls and an interview in the pub after work.  Soon after that, the question finally arose, what are your salary expectations?  This was a key moment, my chance to elevate myself after 25 years of continuous full-time employment and a stainless record.  I considered the salary I could reasonably be expected to be on (but wasn’t), and the salary I wanted, without being crazily out of the ball park.  And I asked for the salary I wanted.  Which is a heck of a lot more than the salary I am on now.  It was time to be bold.  I knew they wouldn’t just agree to it, they would negotiate and I’d end up somewhere in between.  Which is exactly what happened.  But it’s still a big step up for me, enough to make a huge difference to our household. And I’m going back to a sector where I’ve spent most of my career, where I have some great connections.

I start in 3 weeks.  Jordan, thank you for the inspiration.