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  1. “Didn’t you see it? I put it on my Facebook?”

    August 29, 2014 by Amy Hansford

    No. It must have got lost amongst the timeline posts from 350+ other people. I get this a lot.

    I have way too many friends on Facebook. My timeline has become a confused mess of passing moments from past friendships. I have at least 200 people on there with whom I never speak, converse, comment. I’ll probably never see them again, or have cause to bother them. Yet I can’t let go. It seems mean, crushing to ‘unfriend’ someone. But call it ‘unfollow’ and there – I can cope with that. Words are oddly powerful.

    As my sister said, “leave the past behind, don’t stretch your neck looking for a future that is hidden, love a bit of now and where you are now.” 

    So can I do it? Can I accept that I don’t really need to see photos of the children of the person I used to sit next to in Geography? The person that works for Disney that added me that one time? Can I make my timeline something I want to read, rather than a black hole in to which I’m pulled in a never ending cycle? Facebook has become the Hotel California – I feel like I can never leave. But I can try and whittle down the number of guests at least, and refocus its purpose.

    Time to have a think.


  2. Time flies and Facebook sucks

    August 26, 2014 by Amy Hansford

    It’s going too quickly to catch up.

    We have friends that we want to see, and not enough time to see them. And we find ourselves with a spare afternoon, and it seems rude to bother anyone, when really it’s not actually any trouble at all. As long as they’re not busy either, obviously.

    Here’s our current catch up list. It’s here so that I don’t forget, above anything else.

    Johnno and Fossy (3yo’s insistance, who are we to stand in her way)
    The Jaggers (we have clothes for W and we just damned well miss them)
    The Ramseys (we have seen their daughter once and that’s appalling)
    Leanne and Ben (I need my Waller hug dose)

    And we have others, so many others, and I just can’t think of them. No time.

    Facebook is a huge drain of time for me. I removed it from my phone and iPad – a brilliant idea as it means I’m not absolutely glued to my phone any more, mentally or physically. Heck, I even forget it when I go out sometimes. Which is nice actually; a bit like a ball on a chain you didn’t realise you had. But I still have the internet on my laptop, so therefore I still have Facebook. And it’s dreadful. The minute I get downstairs in the morning, the voyeurism takes over and I’m online.

    Wiping my Facebook account is not an option – I need it for my business, plus it keeps me in contact with friends and family. But I need to do something – it’s getting ridiculous. I go to close my laptop and my fingers act independently of my brain, automatically clicking the url bar, pressing ‘f’, the url magically appearing, and pressing ‘enter’ in sheer milliseconds. Before I know it, I’m caught scrolling the feed again. I finish, I go to close my laptop. And repeat.

    Tips for calming the addiction welcome.


  3. Eight things about electric cars

    April 13, 2014 by Amy Hansford

    After several years in my trusty Skoda Yeti, we have traded it in for a newer model. Not just new – an entirely different kettle of fish. We’ve got a Nissan Leaf. An electric car. Now, while I like my gadgets, I rarely understand them. People happily spout off EV (Electric Vehicle) stats at me and I look at them, smile and nod.

    With this in mind, I thought it a good idea to blog about our new car in a way that I can understand it, blow everyone else.

    1. We have a 100% electric vehicle*

    Our Yeti was a diesel car. You can get hybrid cars where they run a bit on electric AND a bit on diesel or unleaded petrol. Our Nissan Leaf is completely electric, so everything runs off of a battery. Or several. Not sure. Either way, I don’t have to put any petrol in it; I just charge it up when I need to (see below).

    Silent Ninja Car

    It looks like a real car and everything.

    2. It is really easy to charge up

    Of an evening, I pop the little hood on the front (see the blue Nissan badge?) and plug in the charger, which is just a cable which comes off the charging point in the garage. It takes about 4 hours to fully charge the battery. It’s on a timer so it’ll only charge when it’s cheap, i.e. between 11pm-7am as we’re on that electricity tariff. (We can charge it whenever we want, but we are frugal.)
    If we’re on the run and need a fast recharge we can use a Rapid Charger – there’s loads of these about; at Ikea, Nissan garages and along the motorways in the service station car parks. These charge up your battery to about 80% in about half an hour.
    There are more chargers around town (the things in car parks that aren’t ticket machines) but you have to pay for those and I can’t be bothered.

    3. It is much much cheaper for us to run

    Diesel vs Electricity
    I was spending around £140/month on diesel. We are now spending £15 ish a month on electricity instead. So that’s an average of £1680/year vs £180/year. So, you know. Duh.

    Road tax
    There is none. It is free. For now. They’ll get wise eventually and start charging, but for now it’s free, which is about £250 cheaper than before.

    Charging away from home
    At the moment (again), I pay £10 a year for each of the two charging networks that I am likely to use. Ecotricity do the motorway rapid chargers and Source East do the ones in London. This annual fee covers my rapid charging usage. So that’s an extra cost of £20 a year. Well BOO HOO.

    Both liquid fuel vehicles and electric vehicles need services and MOTs so we’ll keep those costs on. As a basic view, we’re looking at a rough saving of £1730. PER YEAR. You heard me.

    4. It even makes its own electricity on the go

    Every time you brake in the Nissan Leaf, or even just take your foot off the accelerator to slow down, it uses the friction off the fact you’re still moving to create energy (Regenerative Braking). This goes towards powering cool car things like the music player, camera, air con etc. Also, Doctor Who “regenerates”, which makes this even cooler.

    DOCTOR-WHO-PETER-CAPALDI

    “You see that car there? That’s a damned good car, that is.”

    5. It is well nice

    I thought we would be dropping down with a big jolt from the luxury of the Skoda Yeti. Not so. I have heated seats, loads of space, a damned fine looking car, leather interior… It’s just really really nice, okay?
    It’s also really bloody nippy. Having owned a Renault Clio, Skodas, a BMW 1 class and a SmartCar Roadster, this is by far the quickest, nippiest car I have ever driven. 0-30mph in WOAH. 0-70mph in Well That’s Fine Then. You weren’t expecting it to be fast, were you?

    6. It gets us as far as we need to go

    This is the bit you were wondering about, right?
    On a full battery, we have a range of 86 miles. In the real world, this ends up being about 60 miles. But you know what? That’s all we need. I live and work in MK; I really don’t need any more than that, and mostly I only need to recharge every other night.
    For longer journeys we stop off every now and again for a quick rapid charge at the services. Yes, it’s a bit of a longer journey and yes, it means we do a bit of planning before we leave. But it means we get regular breaks, we can stretch our legs and it makes us slow our lives down a little, which is shockingly overlooked these days.
    Don’t get me wrong – we still have our Skoda Octavia for lonnnnng journeys. But in the main, we’ll use our Leaf where we can.

    7. It is full of geek cool stuff

    I have cameras for when I reverse. One looks like I have a tiny helicopter overhead, broadcasting my position to me.
    It has satnav and heated seats etc (most new cars do these days).
    Press a button and it’ll show you a map of the nearest charging points (filterable), your current driving range, even how you’re ranking within the UK/Europe/the World in terms of eco-ness.
    I can put the heating on in the car from my phone. Bring it, snow.
    The better for the environment you drive (i.e. the less you ram it), the more little trees you can make on your dashboard. I am obsessed with growing trees.
    It makes as much noise as an electric lightbulb, i.e. none. It is silent. As such, to stop people getting run over (because they don’t bother looking**) it plays out a noise that sounds like Marty McFly’s hoverboard, which makes this car insanely cool.

    Don't worry about the warning lights - I'd got the range down to 3 miles!

    Four trees. Count them. FOUR.

    8. You should totally get one.

    If you are looking at changing your car in the next few years, do look into Electric Vehicles. They are only going to get better, the rapid charging points are more and more available and it makes so much sense financially let alone environmentally. We paid an additional £1,500 on top of the trade in for our Yeti to get this, a second hand top spec Tekna model Nissan Leaf with only 1890 miles on it, and we will make that back in the first year easily.

    If you have any questions, do go ahead and ask them in the comments. If anyone is going to be able to explain it in an easy way, it’s me – I don’t understand stuff any more complex than that!

    * I don’t care if you have found some percentage of it which is not electric. I really don’t give a jot. Go away.
    ** This statement does not include people who are blind or partially sighted because Obviously.


  4. New year, new you

    January 17, 2014 by Amy Hansford

    Well that’s a load of twoddle. I’m the same Amy that I ever was, just with a little more experience, a longer relationship and a slightly older daughter. The good news is that I’m pretty happy with all that!

    I Googled 'Twoddle". This came up. You're welcome.

    I Googled ‘Twoddle”. This came up. You’re welcome.

    So what’s coming up in the world of Awakey for 2014?

    Pyjama Drama will be growing (hopefully) throughout the year to the point where I may be a millionaire.*
    I’ll be organising a massive birthday party for our daughter**
    I’ll be appearing as Jan in Dreams ‘n’ Wishes production of Grease over the summer. Shout if you want tickets.
    We’ll be going to a super geek convention and even running some massively geeky Pyjama Drama workshops.
    We will be going on holiday! We will be remaining local, but yay for opportunities to get out for the day.
    And much, much more! ***

    What are your great plans for the year?

    *Factually, a lie.
    ** May actually be “cake and a playground”
    *** A bit more.


  5. Don’t blink – you are a parent

    December 12, 2013 by Amy Hansford

    "Look Mummy, I have a beard!"

    “Look Mummy, I have a beard!”

    Little L is on house arrest as she woke up yesterday with Chickenpox. Cabin Fever is beginning to set in.

    Little L: Can I do painting, Mummy?
    Me: No honey.
    Little L: Can I do painting, Mummy?
    Me: No honey, because we’d have to scrub all the paint off your arms afterwards and that’ll make you feel itchy and scratchy. Painting next week when you are better.
    Little L: Can I, Mummy?
    Me: Honey, it might make your arms hurt after. No, sweetie. Play with your fairy set.

    I seemingly blinked for a second. During this time, Little L has coloured in most of her arms and hands with felt tip pen and just started on her chin. Excellent.

    I think we all learned a valuable lesson here today. As Eeh Bah Mum put it so well earlier this week, children have an agenda. Consider your answers to questions carefully. Your answers will be assimilated by said infants and will be used against you in some way.


  6. “You knew what you were getting into…”

    November 26, 2013 by Amy Hansford

    I’m ill. Not ill ill. I am mobile and quite awake. But I have lost my voice. And when your job is to sing and talk and giggle, losing your voice means you can’t do your job. And when you are self-employed, you no longer get paid for sitting at home and recuperating. Yes, I knew what I was getting into when I jumped ship for this life of improv, but a damaged throat* damages my bank account too, and that’s not a great thing.

    sore-throatSo while the next two hours will be spent continuing to work on my business/marketing plan for Pyjama Drama, there is also a niggling question in the back of my mind; how can I stop this from happening again?

    I can’t magically never be ill again. I’d love that, but it’s not going to happen. Not being able to work due to illness is inevitable and I’m quite frankly damned impressed that I’ve been doing this job for for nearly nine months straight without taking a sickie.

    So what can I do if I fall ill again in the future? Two options.
    1) Cancel the day’s sessions to recuperate (no point making it worse)
    2) Get someone else to run the session.

    Option 1 is a short-term fix. Quick and easy, but it’s not ideal.
    Option 2 is something that I would be looking at doing eventually, so perhaps it’s time to start looking into it now? It would mean consistency for all the families/centres, more opportunities for adding more sessions, and while it would mean a big new outgoings column, it’s better than a big old loss and lots of disappointed kids.

    Food for thought.

    * Do not do a Google image search for “sore throat”. You’ll vomit.


  7. 2013 – I think we’re done.

    November 18, 2013 by Amy Hansford

    It’s been a bit of a shabby year, to be honest. While there are many blessings to count, there have been some truly horrid occurrences.

    Breast Cancer scares.
    Stillbirths.
    Miscarriages.
    Missing reports.
    Deaths.
    Burglaries.
    Attacks.
    Redundancies.
    Crashes.
    Dressings down.
    Misunderstandings.
    Disasters.

    Sometimes it’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. But it’s there. Keep looking. It’s there.


  8. Why I won’t conform to confirm

    November 3, 2013 by Amy Hansford

    Little L has regular(ish) eye tests. We receive the appointment through the post, which is great – if we can’t make it, the service to change the appointment is really easy to use. However, there is a sticking point in this process. Around a week before each appointment, we receive an automated phone call from the hospital to confirm our attendance. With every single phone call, at the point where we are asked to confirm Little L’s date of birth, I hang up.

    phoneWhy?

    Because if someone is calling me, they should need to confirm that they are who they say they are, not me. I’ve already completed paperwork to confirm our personal details. I know I am me. Anyone could set up a recorded message to call me and then ask for my daughter’s date of birth, a factoid that will probably be part of some security question or another in the future, and one that I am not happy to give to an automated message over the phone.

    No, if you call me, you prove that you know my daughter’s date of birth.

    The result of me hanging up is normally a phone call from a real person a few days later.

    Actual phone call from this evening
    Them: Are you the parents or carer of Little L?
    Me: Yes.
    Them: And, for security purposes, can you confirm Little L’s date of birth please?
    Me: No. You should be confirming it to me. You called me. You could be anyone.
    Them: Oh… but it’s standard procedure, could you just confirm her date of birth please?
    Me: No. You could be anyone calling me and reeling off the hospital procedures, so I wouldn’t give you personal information over the phone. You should be able to confirm it to me, not the other way around.
    Them: I can give you the hospital’s phone number to call back if that would make you more comfortable?
    Me: No, I’m fine thanks.
    Them: So….?
    Me: No. We’ll be at the appointment, yes, but I’m not going to tell you my daughter’s date of birth.
    Them: Oh. Ok. Erm…

    I gave them the ultimate answer they were looking for, but not the security question in between. I have no idea whether this will have made their procedure driven head explode in a malfunctioning does-not-compute cloud of sparks or not.

    In other areas of life, we have companies call and ask us (without divulging their company name) for personal details “in order to pass security”. No. Just no. You prove yourself and credentials and inside knowledge to me and then we can talk. I had the AA call me back once and ask for my date of birth. Nope. They could be anyone, sitting there all ready to take my personal details down and set up an account in my name. Date of birth, address, phone number, national insurance number – that’s a great start to get a loan in my name.

    So no, sorry to all the companies out there with well meaning goals and procedures, but no, I won’t answer your security questions if you call me. I will continue to ask you to pass my security until such a time where one of these calls ‘recorded for quality and training purposes’ finally gets listened to and acted on.

    No.


  9. Flyering – the game

    October 17, 2013 by Amy Hansford

    As regularly as I can, I perform brand optimisation for my business, using skill sets including demographic analysis and positive brand growth reinforcement.

    Basically, I go flyering.

    But it’s more than that. So much more that than. Especially when you play The Flyering Game.

    GAIN 1 POINT WHEN:

    You hear a child laughing (added bonus – your flyer’s impact may be doubled by ‘nagging power’)
    A car on the property contains a child seat
    A car on the property displays a Baby on board notice
    You make friendly verbal contact with anyone (does not include cats)
    You successfully flyer a house with a Beware of the dog notice
    You spy an appreciated popular culture reference (i.e. TARDIS, zombie reference, Wizard of Oz themed doormat)
    You manage to use the abstractly placed stepping stones and not touch the gravel/lava
    A cat follows you to three consecutive houses

    LOSE 1 POINT WHEN:

    You flyer a house with a no flyers notice
    You chicken out of fully posting the flyer due to a dog barking/jumping
    You cut across a lawn (NOT cool)
    Your flyer gets squished between the two flaps of the letterbox
    You walk a long way down a drive to be confronted with a no flyers notice

    Have you got any more rules to add?

    Edit: We have some more rules to be added!

    LOSE 1 POINT WHEN:
    You get Flyering Fatigue (you can’t remember if you have flyered this road on a previous expedition)

    Expansion pack – Flyering outside a venue

    GAIN 1 POINT WHEN:
    A parent or carer says “Oh yes, I’ve heard of you!”
    A parent or carer says they will pass the flyer on to their daughter/granddaughter

    LOSE 1 POINT WHEN:
    Accused of being ‘stranger danger’


  10. September 21, 2013 by Amy Hansford

    I know it’s been quiet here. Pyjama Drama is a full time job, and by full time I mean I have been spending every spare moment publicising where I can and learning lesson plans, as well as being my own finance and HR department. It’s knackering, but I still wouldn’t change it for the world.

    Life in brief:

    Little L wears glasses now. Glasses are cool.
    One year married – yay!
    I’m debating selling all my costumes in the garage (and returning those which I curate). Thoughts appreciated, full blog another time.
    Go and read A Thrifty Mrs‘s blog as it is brilliant.
    I’m in Mother Goose as Glinda the Good Fairy. This one, right here. You should come and see it (I know where you live*.)

    mg

    *I don’t.