Two days later and I lost count of how many meetings we had, how many presentations we made and how many meals we missed.
By the final meeting, we were broken and slowly dragged our sorry team off to the airport only to discover our flight had been delayed. Given that we’d arrived early, we had a lot of time to kill. Not ideal when all you want to do is crawl into bed and collapse.
I’m currently sitting in the Barcelona airport, I’m exhausted, sticky and coughing as the cold I had last weekend has joined me on this whirlwind trip.
Despite all that (and a miserable hotel in Barcelona) we’ve had a laugh. Four of us have been on this bizarre adventure, we’ve talked, laughed, worked, starved and collapsed and at the end of this manic week, we’re exhausted but happy.
As I said though, travel for work, not all it’s cracked up to be. Now get me home!
Let’s get this straight, travelling for work is not glamorous!
I left London and went to Madrid on Sunday evening. The flight was delayed so by the time we arrived, queued for a taxi and arrived at our very basic airport hotel it was half past midnight. Less than five hours later I was back in a taxi heading back to the airport for a flight to Coruna in northern Spain.
Arriving in Coruna at 8:30am, we went straight into a meeting, followed by lunch (2pm) and followed by another meeting. We then checked into our hotel, had a working session and finished dinner at 10:30pm. By this point I had no idea where I was!
I woke at 8:15am completely disoriented and thought I was in Stockholm. I was up and out with a quick breakfast and then it was back to back meetings from 10am to 3pm. My voice was starting to sound quite hoarse.
There were no refreshments except a bottle of water stolen from my hotel and a granola bar (I now carry a supply when travelling after missing meals in Brussels and Stockholm). We went straight to the airport for lunch at 4pm and then boarded a flight to Barcelona.
We’re now halfway through with another two days ahead in Barcelona and a late flight back to London on Thursday. I may run out of granola bars before I make it home and I will most definitely run out of steam.
They’ve certainly had their pound of flesh from me this week!
This week I’ve attended three conferences and have struggled with a crisis of conscience.
Sustainability, supply chain tracing, living wages, alternative materials, recycled plastics, single use plastics, polyester, sustainable cotton. Recyclable products are not the same as recycled materials. The list goes on and it’s all well intentioned. And yet working in an offshoot of the fashion industry, the worst polluter after the oil industry, it’s hard to see how change will happen unless the industry has a massive overhaul and people stop wearing cheap, disposable clothes.
It’s a quandary and I don’t have the answers. I wish there was a solution in which we would all understand we need to make a collective change. We can pay to offset our carbon footprint but what does that really mean?
It’s all about greenwashing as we claim to clean up the oceans by removing plastics when we manufacture plastic toys.
People need to demand better quality clothing and be willing to pay more but does that mean that sustainability is only for the rich? What about countries like China, India? Will they pay for more sustainable fabric?
The term living wage is interesting. A wage paid at a regional level to allow someone to have enough to eat, clothe and house themselves with a little left over for emergencies. It’s not aiming high enough.
I’m left feeling that true sustainability eludes us and the goal of Net Zero by 2030 is impossible to achieve unless something changes drastically and I don’t know what that is.
I had decided to leave Stockholm a day earlier than intended as I was supposed to be going to New York, and that’s where it all went wrong.
I was in a bad mood as I’d rearranged everything only to discover at the eleventh hour that I wasn’t going to New York after all. I should have stayed in Stockholm.
It was a mess. I checked out of my hotel a day early and still got charged for the extra night. I took a taxi to the airport and got stuck in horrendous traffic so a thirty minute journey took almost two hours and I finally arrived at the gate with five minutes to spare having run through the whole of Stockholm airport jumping every queue and apologising to half of Sweden.
I hadn’t eaten breakfast and had a splitting headache and then to top it all off, some fucker had a nut allergy which meant I couldn’t eat my emergency granola bar.
I arrived back into London in a very bad state, head pounding and emotions frayed. It took a couple of soft boiled eggs with rye toast and a cup of tea to talk me off the edge.
Lesson learned. Stick to the plan and don’t try to reschedule!
I didn’t have much time between arriving, leaving and meetings but did manage a quick tour of Stockholm hitting a few carefully chosen shops and whetting the appetite to return.
My impression of Stockholm was one of civilisation. People seemed better dressed, better looking, more considerate, friendlier, healthier and generally living a better quality of life. They didn’t seem to know about the cost of living crisis as the restaurants and shops were full of happy, affluent people. I didn’t see a single homeless person, anyone down on their luck or anyone wearing a cheap black tracksuit.
I sampled some traditional meals and learned about fika, the Swedish coffee break consisting of conversation exchanged with something sweet during the day. The importance of herbs and spices was apparent as saffron, cinnamon and cardamom as well as dill featured on many menus.
I saw beautiful design, Josef Frank textiles, furniture, clothes and more, all rather tempting and a note to self to return with a larger bag (and more money!) next time.
I have watched many a dark Scandi drama (probably known as TV in Sweden) and would love to spend more time in the Nordics. This was just a dip of the toe into the icy waters of the Baltic.
I barely scratched the surface and have much more to see on my next visit (if and when I return)
And then it was hard to leave (literally) and that’s another story!
Today I’m off to Stockholm for a few days of meetings and research (aka shopping) with H&M.
I’m a bit of a scandiphile with an appreciation of Scandinavian design, minimal aesthetics and a realistic approach to life with Swedish Death Cleaning. I do like a Scandi drama although there are one too many police dramas these days.
I’ve never been to Sweden and so am interested to spend a couple of days in Stockholm and hopefully getting a little down time as I’m heading to New York next week.
The death and subsequent funeral of the Queen was a strange time in London. The news itself was quite sudden and shocking when it was announced and more emotional than anticipated.
What followed was a surreal time, a media blackout which consisted of one news story for ten days, London in mourning and a queue which surpassed all queues to view a coffin.
Church bells tolled and cannons were fired and the mood was somber. The crown passed imperceptibly to the next unelected head and nobody said a word, because they were arrested if they did.
And then after a day spent watching the procession, funeral, politics and more, we were saturated. It had been managed perfectly and had gone without a hitch and apparently we’ll be paying it off for a while.
Immediately after the funeral we had a new national anthem, new money on the horizon and everything Queen now becomes King as KC3 takes over. The royal PR team has gone into overdrive as story after story fill the news.
I’m not really anti-monarchy other than resenting the privilege of one unelected family (who weren’t in the direct line of succession) who retain a vast private wealth and have millions of unquestioning minions tugging their forelocks. I
just think it would be nice to be asked and perhaps they could pay for themselves and give up some of their houses (castles and enormous mansions).
I do like a train journey as there’s never a traffic jam, someone else does the driving and, in some countries, they run on time.
As we were taking Agnes, we had to take a ferry from Penzance to St Mary’s so we had to be in Penzance for a 10am departure. It meant either finding a hotel or, genius, taking the sleeper and so we decided to travel overnight on our Isles of Scilly sojourn and were very pleasantly surprised by the sleeper train to Penzance operated by GWR.
Big T had me worried that it would be like a prison cell with linoleum flooring, no pillow or bedding and we’d need to take sleeping bags but it was nothing of the sort.
A well-designed cabin with a tiny hanging space (not a wardrobe but enough for a coat), a hidden sink, fluffy white bedding and comfortable mattresses on reasonably sized bunk beds. All managed by smiling and helpful staff who made the experience a pleasure.
I’ll be honest and admit it wasn’t the best night’s sleep (a few stops and starts through the journey and the bedding was a little slippery on the return journey) but breakfast in bed was served on a tray and Agnes was allowed to sleep on the floor for £30, for that price I let her get on the bed as it was a bit steep.
Given that we now have train strikes going on, I’m generally disappointed in the rail industry but overall would highly recommend the GWR sleeper… when they’re not on strike!