19 October 2005

JD and I went to see the new Wallace & Gromit movie last night. Really funny. The Curse of the Were-Rabbit is a triumph of animation in an era of CGI animation. I HATE CGI animation as it has NO warmth or depth to it. This film is great with its little Plasticine characters which still show the finger prints of their makers in the close-ups.

Go and see it. I am not telling you ANYTHING about it. But it is fun.

To sell or to educate?

For her Masters Degree at University, JD has to keep a blog. Yes, blogging is an integral part of her course about Excellence models and how to achieve excellence in a business. She needs to blog and reflect on the things she has learned that day/week. Quite fun. After some healthy resistence against blogging, things have gone much better.

Thre good thing about it is that I can keep up with the sort of thing she is doing. I ask and then she explains but sometimes it is nice to read what is going on in her head and the things she is learning. I must admit, some of the things she is learning are fascinating and look really attractive to me.

And then some of the things look bloody obvious.

We had a Management Consultant in at my work yesterday. The Sales Team sat in the boardroom just talking about how we sell our products, who our customers are, what we actually sell, how we keep track of a sale and how we take care of existing accounts. The result showed a yawning gap between the sales team and the MD about what our direction should be.

We sell our product mainly through trade parters who offer our product as part of their offering. This means I rely on someone else to sell my product for me. Our trade partners sell the benefits of our products to THEIR clients who then may or may not decide to buy our trade partner's offering INCLUDING our product. Or they may decide to buy our trade partner's offering WITHOUT our product. Or with the product of one of our competitors. This makes it hard to keep control over your sale. Apparently there are positive sides to this method but I can not see them. However, we have been doing business like this since the start of the company so it can not be all bad.

The discussion yesterday revolved a lot around the question of who to approach: Get closer with our trade partners or should we simply see direct to the end-user so that the end user will say to our trade partner: I have this particular product that I bought and if I am going to buy YOUR product, you will have to work with this one that I already bought.

Or is there a middle way where we raise our profile in the market place so that end users will have heard about us so that when a trade partner comes in with our product, the end user says: I heard about these guys, I heard they are really good, I would like to use their product.

The sales team seems to be leaning more towards the direct sale whilst the MD seems to be afraid to upset our trade partners and seems to prefer the middle way. After all, if we upset our trade partners, they may stop selling our product completely out of anger. But then again, perhaps we could sell more products if we sold them directly to the end users.

Either way, some kind of decision needs to be taken if the company wants to grow to the next level. But when the Management Consultant asked the MD if he could discuss it with the other directors and make a decision soon, the MD was less than enthusiastic. He seemed to think nothing had to change.

If so, then why is the Management Consultant there?

Why is it that people seem to feel a need to hear things fm an expensive Management Consultant when the Sales Team has been saying the same things for months, if not years. oh well, there is money to hire a Management Consultant so the business can not be doing that bad.

And you know what, now that JD has her blog, I know that she is looking at this sort of thing. And we actually had a very interesting conversation about it last night. On the way to see Wallace & Grommit and the Curse of the Were-Rabbit (about which more will follow).

In a strange way, I still feel like a child and I always feel some kind of strange pang of "Look, I am a grown-up" when discussing grown-up things like this. Donno.

14 October 2005

Eaten alive!!

JD and I are getting bites from unknown animals in our bed. I have not been able to find fleas or bed bugs but we (especially I) wake up with nasty itching bites on our legs.

I suspect it is fleas. Possibly fom the stray cat that kept walking in to our house this summer.

But I do not know how to get rid of them. Any ideas anyone? How do you get rid of fleas without having to throw your entire mattress out and buy a new one?

I am itching all over. Please help!

13 October 2005

They do exist: dutch rugby players in England

I have just come across this blog from Linda Riel. She is Dutch, used to play for the national Dutch ladies team and now plays in England for St Albans.

I started playing rugby only after I moved to England. I joined Old Leamingtonians as it is the only women's rugby team in Leamington Spa and surrounding areas. I knew nothing about rugby but at the end of my first season, I won the award for Most Improved Player. I am not sure if that means I am now a GOOD rugby player, but it means I am not as rubbish as I was when I started. And that is nice.

After my first season, I just wondered what the level of ladies' rugby in The Netherlands is like. If the health of the national competition is anything to go by, it does not look very good: each year, teams struggle to keep the competition alive, the Dutch RFUW does not seem to exist or is in a permanent state of sleep. It seems a small group of hard-core rugby women are keeping the game alive in The Netherlands.

I am not blaming anyone for this. Women just do not play enough rugby in The Netherlands. It is a total minority sport and without attention, the sport will not be able to move forward and get the attention, and funding, it so desperately needs.
Having said that, the Dutch team almost made the World Championships in Canada next year but missed out to Samoa....

Mind you, the support for men's rugby is not much better it seems. The Dutch RFU has a draconian website that screams AMATEURS and certainly does not give you the feeling it is taken seriously by anyone else but those playing the sport. The website says things like "We need to get more attention for our wonderful rugby sport." ...our beautiful rugby sport.....it just makes you feel there are all good willing amateurs.

Hang on, this post is going in a direction that I did not foresee. If people (read: The government and prospective players) are not prepared to put effort in (and if nobody really knows that they can play rigby at a local club), then those who DO put effort in are limited by time and resources. Until rugby is taken seriously by all parties in The Netherlands, I doubt it will be able to grow to the next stage.

Anyway....I did have a point....

When I got my award last season, I thought: I wonder how good/bad that makes me compared to my Dutch counterparts. Wouldn't it be nice to go on tour in The Netherlands to see if my team fomr the Midlans 2 League would match up to the Dutch girls who play in the highest (and only??) Dutch league. Perhaps I could even play for the Dutch national Team? Not this year but perhaps in 1 or 2 years? Or is that a ridiculous thought? I have NO idea of the general level of Dutch Ladies Rugby. So I emailed the Dutch RFUW and asked them if they kept a record of Dutch women who are playing rugby abroad. You know, in case they need to be selected for the national team.

Their answer: No. We keep a record of Dutch women who play for the National team and THEN go abroad. But apart from that we do not know about Dutch women playing abroad and there is no real reason for us to keep track of them or register them somewhere. We only select the national team from woen who play in The Netherlands.

And there you have it. A mentality that reeks of amateurs. How about Dutch women who live in New Zealand and might be really good. Or in whatever other rugby-loving country they get their experience? What if she turns out to be a really good rugby player who, with her experience and training from England, can really add something to the team? They would not know about it. And there is no way a national team will select someone who just calls and say: Hello, I think I am good enough to join the national team, will you have me? It is strange that someone who might be really good because they played in a foreign country would have to move back to The Netherlands before they will ever be considered for the national team.

By the way: how DO you get selected for the National tam in The Netherlands? Your coach informs the Dutch RFUW? Or you call them to tell them you think you are good enough to join them?

I am not saying I am good enough. I probably am not (yet/ever). The way they responded just really dissapointed me because I have fallen in love with rugby. It is a wonderful sport to play and to see the enthusiasm of the players being stiffled by a lack of organisation and direction makes me sad.

But until someone is prepared to put in some decent money and get all noses pointing in the same direction, women's rugby in The Netherlands can not move forward. Because it will remain a sport that is run and organised by people who do it outside their normal work commitments, who do not have the time to run an RFUW the way it should be run. Or they DO work at it full time but the support is just not enough with only so few people playing rugby. They try as hard as they can and they do their best but to make the next step forward, an air of professionalism is needed.

Mind you....the RFUW here in England is pretty rubbish itself but that is a completely different story. They are professional rubbish people. So I can actually hold them responsible for making a mess of things. With willing amateurs, like the Dutch RFUW, it is hard ot criticise because people do what they can to help.

I know this: If I ever return to The Netherlands, I plan to play rugby. I plan to help as much as I can with keeping the game alive, widening its potential and telling people it really is a great game to play.

It is. Go to your local rugby club this weekend and see if you want to join in.

07 October 2005

Bring on the snow!!!

JD and I are planning a little trip to the French snow in March next year. I am SO looking forward to it. After all, there is little else to look forwward to at the moment so I am spending a lot of time day dreaming about this trip. We have asked 2 girls frmo the rugbyclub to join us but we are going anyway, even if they do not come along. It is just cheaper to share fuel and accommodation expenses between 4 people. That, and the fact that they are nice company of course!

JD is a skier. I am a snowboarder. I need to point out that I have been snowboarding a total of 2 times in my life and that JD has many years experiences on the Sticks. I LOVE being in the snow. I find skiing scary. I fear that my legs will go their own way and I end up with my knee ligaments ripped to shreds. Probably an unrealistic fear but hey-ho: the biggest danger is feeling insecure so I feel happy on my snowboard so there is no need to start learning to ski. Not until I am an ACE snowboarder anyway.

JD refuses to learn snowboarding. Wanks on Planks she calls them. Because snowboarders frequently sit down in the middle of the piste. Well, skiers are Pricks on Sticks apparently and I agree with that. They just speed past you, so close to you that your woolly hat comes off in the drag!!

Anyway, I might buy some snowboard and bindings on Ebay as renting the kit may prove to be really costly and after about 4 trips, you have made back the costs of the rental. Or I might get it from The Netherlands over Christmas. Because here in the UK, ski gear is extortionately expensive.

06 October 2005


I am still looking for another job but the market seems to be very very quiet. I do not really want to stay both at this job nor in this town for much longer. JD has started her Masters last week and hopefully this is the last year we spend in this town. There is just not enough work for me here. Well, there is enough work but nothing that I like. It is all office based work. Accounts assistant, sales administrators etc. All boring and not very creative.

JD is thinking of doing a PHD. Just because it sounds so good with her surname. Actually, is three ANY surname that does not sound better with the title "Doctor" in front of it? Anyway, a PHD takes another 3 years. I have no problem with her doing another 3 years at University. But not at this one. Eventhough it is a very very good University, it is the location that forces us to live in a small town.

JD mentioned that perhaps she coudl do her PHD at a University in The Netherlands. They do PHDs in English there. But more importantly, it would mean that I could go back to my old job as a reporter for a regional broadcaster. I miss my old job.

But it got me thinking. If we were to go to The Netherlands and I was to take up my old job, I would feel like having failed at making a life and carreer for myself in England. I owuld feel like having achieved nothing after 2 years abroad. No real extra job experience, no insight into a different possible job market for me, no progression, no promotion. It would feel simply like I have put my life on hold for 2 years whilst waiting for JD to finish University. And after 2 years, no progress has been made in my professional life or in my financial situation.

That thought makes me depressed.

On the other hand, I want to look for another job here in England but as long as JD does not know what she wants to do after her Masters, or where she wants to do it, is it worth me trying to find another job? For all I know, I might not be in the new job for more than a few months. Or, worse even, I might find a job that I really like (yeah right) and then I may not want to leave whilst JD is ready to leave because I told her I wanted to leave!

The best option is for JD to get a job, make a lot of money so that I can just take a nice, low-paid job that I care about. Actually, not a good idea. I suspect that would really dent my pride and self-esteem if I were to become a kept woman.