Tuesday, 17 September 2013

My sausages await!

So here I am, excitedly making preparations to depart on the 2:30 train this afternoon on my all expenses paid trip to Telford to be the official "VIP Sausage Taster" for the 2013 Sausage Awards.

When I said I had won a competition on facebook, I got a few cynical responses. It seems many of the competitions on there are not all they are cracked up to be. Well this one certainly has been! Hats off to "Love Pork" - they cannot do enough for me. Two nights in the hotel, meals, the events, trains travel, even taxis to and from all the stations, we are being treated like VIPS!

I did eventually manage to juggle things and arrange help from family members in order that Claire can join me for at least part of the trip. Whilst I am going up this afternoon, she is travelling up first thing tomorrow at which point we'll have cover to look after the boys - thanks Dad and Mother-in-law! The actually event itself does not start until tomorrow which means this evening I shall be free to spend the evening in the hotel as I wish - with the meal thrown in. I note that the hotel has a number of sports facilities and a swimming pool which I could avail myself of, should I feel that way inclined. I guess it is unlikely but I will put my swimming trunks in just in case. That is a pair of Calvin Klein swimming shorts before Dave or Dogger comes on to ask about whether I still have my speedos! I haven't, I donated them to the British Fashion Museum in Bath.

It is a strangely nostalgic and deja vu type thing to be doing, preparing for a midweek night away in a hotel on my own, and not something I really expected ever to be doing again. Of course, back in my corporate days I used to be doing this sort of thing all the time. My clients, retailers, brewers, and manufacturers were scattered all over the country which frequently required overnight stops. Sometimes if with colleagues this could mean a great night out in the right location - a trip to Crookes Healthcare meant a good night out on the lash in Nottingham City Centre, whilst Greene King or Jeyes meant a more low key but enjoyable stop in Bury St Edmunds.

However, many times I was alone, and often in hotels out of town, stuck on the ring roads which in many cases could be quite soulless places. A hotel bar in your average Holiday Inn is not like a pub - it's got more of an airport departure lounge feel to it. I rarely, if ever, met anyone interesting to talk to in any of these places, they are full of business people talking the talk and walking the walk which I hate. On the few occasions I did attempt to engage in any conversations about anything, invariably they would start banging on about how they were up here as a salesman for the annual wraps and foils convention or something along those lines and bore me rigid with excited talk about a new type of plastic they had developed for their bin liners. Most of the time I would have my meal, on the company, and then just go back to the hotel room and watch telly and eat and drink.

Even with the coporate Amex in my pocket there were limits as to what could be claimed on expenses, so I always went well stocked up with everything I needed. Being Austerity driven as you know, I was completely opposed to spending £3 on a can of Diet Coke from the minibar when I could just take a six can multipack up myself from Tesco and shove it in said mini-bar. This also applied to alcohol, so a few cans of Strongbow always went down well. I tend to be a little peckish late at night too, and there is nothing worse than not having access to all of one's favourite snacks, so I always took a good supply of food with me. Mini Cheddars were particularly good, but any snack product was welcome. In terms of chilled food that could be more problematic as I might be out in the car all day, so taking packets of ham and such like was not really an option, unless I fancied eating a warm packet of ham late at night that had gone grey. Happily the solution to the meat problem was found in Pepperami's, which don't have to be refrigerated.

So this morning I have been packing my case with everything I might need to get me through the evening, and here is the result so far.

All the essentials.

I guess I'll probably have to find a bit of room in there for a few clothes and toiletries as well, and it goes without saying I shall be taking my laptop so I can report back on all my experiences while I am there. I don't fully know what to expect yet, but I am hoping to make a few contacts there to help me further my blossoming writing career further.

Speaking of which, I had a very enjoyable trip to Radio Oxford yesterday and spent around 20 minutes or so being interviewed by Malcolm Boyden on his morning show. I was a little nervous before I went in, but I had nothing to fear as he has a really easygoing, personable nature that instantly put me at ease. Before we went on air, I handed him a copy of the book and he had a quick flick through alighting on the bit about where I caught Claire using my razor on her legs. He laughed and said he'd had the exact same conversation with his wife a few weeks earlier.

I found it easy to talk in the studio, much easier than my earlier interview on LBC which I did over the phone. I managed to speak slowly and measuredly and certainly felt I gave good answers to his questions. Although the interview doesn't seem to have generated anything much in the way of book sales, such publicity seldom does, it was a great opportunity nonetheless to get my story out there to more people, in the hope that someone, somewhere, may be listening who can help me further with my aspiring writing career. The coverage and interest I have had up to this point has been fantastic - from the Bicester Advertiser to the Oxford Mail to Radio Oxford, things are progressing upwards. I guess the logical next step is to gain some national interest, which is easier said than done - I tried before, you may remember, but I have got a little bit more behind me now to go on.

If you want to catch up with the show but missed me you can get it on Radio Oxford for the next 7 days online, it was Malcolm Boyden's show for Monday 16th September. My part starts just over an hour into the show.

I must also say that I really enjoyed being in the studio and as I have often said, I could imagine myself doing that job too - I still have an open offer of a show on Radio Bicester but there is so much going on right now that I have put that on hold for the time being - but the possibility is still there.

I left Malcolm a copy of the book, I really hope he likes it and who knows, maybe he'll recommend it to someone, fingers crossed.

Right, I must away, next stop Telford, and for all you sausage lovers eagerly awaiting your next instalment I shall be reporting back, hopefully tomorrow evening! However I shall have Claire with me then, so perhaps we shall be too busy enjoying ourselves and you may have to wait until Thursday!

Bon Appetit!

If you have enjoyed reading this blog, please take a look at my books on Amazon (Paperback & Kindle), where you can read lots more of the same! Click here.

Jason xx

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