Thursday, 15 December 2011

Working from home.

What I Wore.

Monday in invariably my day to work from home. Most other days I do design work for other companies in their studios. When I'm at home, I get a lot more done in fewer hours. It’s easy to see why...

- To begin with, I don't have to commute to get to work. Commuting involves either the tube or the bus and bizarrely, no matter where I’m going in central London, it takes an hour. So not commuting saves me 2 hours a day.
- I don’t get distracted by work colleagues. Distractions include 1. Discussing music, films, TV, gossip or other work mates to such a passionate degree that it’s impossible to multi-task and actually do work at the same time, 2. Showing or being shown something on the computer (usually on YouTube) which causes so much hilarity you have to take a couple of minutes off to catch your breath, 3. Loo breaks (not that I don't go to the loo at home but usually it’s not the other side of a vast studio, nor are there other girls in there that I need to natter with), 4. Making tea or coffee (again, I do make tea and coffee at home but there aren't other people to distract me in my kitchen and I don’t have to make 4 cups of tea in one go, 5. Going for lunch, 6. Meetings. At work, these involve many people and are very time consuming. At home, meetings last a few minutes and are done over the phone. No distractions, therefore, saves me ooh... a few hours a day?
- I don’t have to look presentable at home. It takes me an hour to get ready when I'm going to work; shower, clothes, hair, make-up. At home, I might still be in my pyjamas at lunchtime.

So all in all, I save myself about 5 hours by working from home. Brilliant! So, really (and I sometimes do justify this to myself when a particular yoga class catches my eye) I only have to work 4-5 hours and I'm already into overtime! Ha. But the thing I have begun to notice is how little I care about what I look like on Mondays. I'm at home, I'm working, no one will see me. My pyjamas are sooo comfortable and comfort is good when you’re working hard, right? When I do venture out, to get supplies or reference, or to do a spot of shopping (after finishing my days work you understand), then I just grab whatever is to hand.

This past Monday I had finished all my work and decided to go to the supermarket. It's further than my local one and so I decided to drive. It was particularly cold outside and so I just began layering on clothes. Over my pyjamas (the shame!). So my pyjamas were the bottom layer, then I put my bra over my pyjama top (I know!), then jeans over the bottoms (nice lumpy finish), t-shirt and hoodie on the top, then Ugg boots, a parka and a wooly hat, mittens and scarf as the finishing layer. No make-up and hair scraped into a scrunchy (yes, they do still exist) on top of my head. I didn't look in the mirror (what’s the point?) and went on my merry way.

Once I got to the Supermarket and found a trolley, I happily wandered the aisles. I noticed a few people giving me odd looks and one woman steered her child in a large circle around me. Crikey, I thought, can't a girl go out without her hair and bloody make-up done just for once and not worry? People are sooooooooo shallow, I thought!!! I finished my shopping and headed out to the car park. As I passed the long glass front of the supermarket I looked at my reflection. Then I looked again (I mentioned the not recognising myself in a previous email but this was something else). I then saw a bag lady pushing my trolley. I actually burst out laughing when I saw the state of myself. No wonder people were staring. I had pulled my hat so far forward and readjusted it so many times that my ‘scrunch-ied’ ponytail was at the front of my head, sticking out like some hairy unicorn. I had so many layers, creating so many odd bulges that I looked like a giant belted marshmallow. And to finish off this sultry look I noticed I had a massive bulge in my thigh. I poked it with my mitten and it relented. Weird. I took off my mitten and wiggled my hand into my jeans and tugged at the bulge. I probably should have done this in the privacy of my car but I wasn't thinking and was laughing so hard that people would assume I was a nutter anyway. I finally yanked hard and out came a pair of knickers and a sock, like some twisted magic show. I was crying with laughter at myself so much that I only just managed to get to the car!!!! I keep giggling about it, three days later, which also makes me look a bit potty.

So a word of warning to those that work from home... layer away but always look in the mirror before you leave the building!

Thursday, 8 December 2011

In the Country

Where I Was.

I have been lucky enough to be working down in the depths of Somerset for the last week or so. For anyone that doesn't know Somerset, it is a beautiful county in the south west of the UK and has all the charms of typical English countryside, green rolling hills, dense forests, sparkling rivers, small stone cottages, cows, sheep, farmers and pubs! It's a lovely change from the chaos and overcrowding of London and it really feels like a working holiday. My sister and family live nearby so I am able to see her and my nephews a lot and have lovely suppers together but I'm also able to stay next to the studio in a huge converted Dairy. The studio itself is a beautiful converted barn and the old Dairy, next door, has been turned into a luxurious 3 bedroom house. Originally they used the Dairy as a Bed and Breakfast but had trouble filling it, due to it's isolated location and price, I think. Now, they use it mainly to put up clients and freelancers, free of charge!! Yay!

It is a stunning conversion, triple height open-plan sitting room and kitchen with a 6 foot plasma screen at one end, suspended wrought iron fireplace and deep squidgy sofas. The kitchen is one that you don't really want to cook in but simply waft around in, draping yourself languidly over the smooth surfaces of marble and stainless steel. The bedrooms are enormous with huge kingsize beds, plasma screens and en suite bathrooms with jacuzzi baths. I'm not exaggerating when I say I would happily pay to stay there… don't tell my clients that though! They are very happy with the arrangement because for them, it's really hard to find freelancers who 1. have their own car 2. can stay away from London for weeks at a time and 3. don't mind being on their own miles from anywhere.

So, there are obviously some lovely plusses staying there but I've also found there are some minuses.

Plus... The place is in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by fields and trees, sheep and cows with only their soft lowing and the gentle wind as accompaniment.
Minus... The place is on a lane called Windy Hill, one of the windiest places in Somerset apparently. The noise of the wind blowing through the roofs’ rafters is loud enough to wake the dead and me! I awoke one morning to a loud rustling and moaning outside my door and thought I was about to be attacked in my bed by an escaped lunatic. It was, however, a herd of cows making their way past the bedroom window at shit early o’clock, bellowing “murrrrurghhhhh’ wanting to be milked. Both local farmers decided to do their muck-spreading while I was staying there, inducing the occasional gag reflex as I inhaled the fresh morning air!

Plus... There isn’t a lot of entertainment within walking distance of the Dairy but it’s lovely to be able to just laze about in the evenings, reading or watching films.
Minus... The plasma TV had no less than 6 remote controls to get it to work and was attached to the DVD player, Satellite dish, Nintendo, Stereo and probably the washing machine! I hadn't the foggiest how to watch anything and would spend half the evening standing like a ninja, juggling remote controls and swearing. To humiliate me further, when I mentioned in the studio that I was having a little trouble making the thing work, they sent Rex, the junior designer (about 8 years old) to show me. He picked up about 4 remote controls, clicked them in some sequence and that was it. Cocky little bastard! I literally blinked whilst he was showing me so was none the wiser of how to work it!

Plus... Being in a big empty Dairy, I can sing at the top of my lungs, dance like a crazy lady, do some odd yoga positions, anything really... with no one around to see or hear me. You can't sneeze in London without your neighbours complaining!
Minus... Not realising that the strange orb like structures in every room were actually web cameras, for security. When I mentioned to the studio that I had been dancing around the night before, they all beamed and threatened to pull up the camera history to watch me. I was so paranoid after that, that I crept around the place looking suspicious, often pausing for several minutes to stick my tongue out at the cameras. I then found out, several weeks later, that they were lying! Another beautiful early morning, I decided to do yoga outside on the grass. I picked a secluded spot by the lake (yes, the garden is huge) and began with a downward dog. I heard some moos behind me and a very West Country accented “Mornin” and saw the farmer looking over the hedge, along with several cows, bemused expressions on all their faces. After moving to a more secluded spot I carried on, only to hear, moments later “Are you all right love?” from the direction of the barn and looked up to see a very worried looking cleaner.

I suppose it's not that usual to see a woman face down, arse up in the middle of a field at 6 in the morning! Well, then again, it is the West Country! They just might not call it yoga!