My last day


This might be quite a long one, but I wanted to record my last day! Although I will still be getting up early to start work every morning, I won’t particularly miss the dark, cold walk up my road to the main road to catch the bus! I know it’s not always dark when I go out, but it has been, of course, these past few weeks.

The campus wasn’t quite this dark when I came in, but near enough. The library looked atmospheric and cosy with its lights on. As dawn comes up, all these trees fill with birds, twittering away. I will miss working on such a lovely campus.

Jennifer took some pics of me at my desk … and I took one of my dear desk-mate with my view up the office from my corner desk. I also took one of the view out of our window. I could watch the seasons change on the trees outside. At least we could see outside – in two of the offices I worked in (Courtyard Office and B38) I couldn’t see the sky at all!) I recorded one of the last bits of work I did (changing the loan statuses of these books) and a Love Heart from the sweeties I brought in for everyone: “Just Say No”. Nice!

A few people from the office went for lunch at Selly Sausage – thanks to Julie for organising this!  John passed me my card and presents with no fuss, which is exactly how I wanted it to be – thanks John! As we walked back, the sun went in a bit, which was a shame, as Campus had been looking just as it did in 1988 when I first visited on an Open Day! Becky took a pic of me outside the library …

After I’d finished work I went across to Staff House. The coffee bar wasn’t open so I sat on a sofa in the foyer with my hot cross bun and current read. Becky came and joined me and then a lovely number of my and Matthew’s colleagues came by to wish me good luck (sorry Alan, didn’t get a pic of you). Thanks for coming, everyone!

And Matthew and I went for a curry with a couple of the others … a bit of a late one!

This morning, I opened my gifts from Jennifer (the postits), the LUCIA ladies, and Heather – thank you so much everyone!

And now it’s Libro all the way, with a vengeance, with four projects to complete from my regulars (two done before breakfast!), a quotation in for another larger project and some student work coming over today.

Thanks to everyone at the Library and from Psychology who made my last day a fun and memorable one! Here’s a slideshow of pictures from the day …

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Go on: inspire me!


As I trembled on the brink of my momentous Last Day In Employment this evening, I threw out a distress flare on Facebook and Twitter. As you do. My old school friend, Kathy, came to the rescue with some lines from our school song!

So: share with me YOUR inspiring school song! Polite versions only, please. But if you’re our age or older, I bet you had one …

What if the lessons of life grow harder?

What if they bring no gain?

Still we can work for the joy of working,

Play up and play the game!

Courage and honour as England’s women

Think of the school on the hill!

School on the hill top, keep our devotion

True among all life’s fears.

Let our tradition of Courage and Honour

Grow, Grrrow with the passing years!

(copyright TGSG, I suppose. No intention to steal it. Just share a few lines, eh?)

An emotional day

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I’ve had a bit of an odd week this week, so far. There has been a lot of passing knowledge on, and quite a few “last things” – I did my last lot of monthly statistics for the department today (and talked my manager through my notes I wrote up on it), which seems like a small thing, but I took the task on well over a year ago, spent ages streamlining it so I didn’t have to type stuff in twice, etc., and it was more of a complex task, maybe, as opposed to the run-of-the-mill things.  I have been training another colleague on a lot of bits and bobs and have been seeing the work going to her rather than me – again, a natural thing, but there’s a little connection lost and I float a little freer each time it happens.

Today I said goodbye to a few colleagues who won’t be in on Monday for my last day. With one, it was OK, as I know I’ll keep in touch and we’ll see each other again. With another, it was harder – I’ve worked with her for years and years, including a good few months where it was just us two in the same office three days a week; she’s so lovely and I’ll miss her, but I don’t really see that we’ll be in touch so much. I did choke back a tear as I said goodbye.

I’ve had a few presents – which I really wasn’t expecting – two from office-mates and one from the ladies who run the charity, LUCIA, that I’ve supported through my running and other endeavours. I have opened cards but not presents, as I’m expecting to have an emotional – if not physical – hangover on Tuesday and thought it would be nice to have something to look forward to. Although – it’s presents! – so I don’t know if I’ll keep strong till then!

I had the afternoon off today so I could balance out the flexitime I’d accrued, so I travelled home alone, a bit sad and wistful, and I have a load of Libro work to do, and Christmas cards to write if I run out of that: but I do feel sad, and I’m going to acknowledge that now as a rational reaction to the week, and press on.

M.C. BEATON – A Spoonfull of Poison

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From Ali

Next Agatha Raisin – another village full of odd people but more about the assistant, Toni, to bulk things out. An enjoyable read but these are getting a bit samey now …

THOMAS HARDY – A Pair of Blue Eyes

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Melodramatic and gripping, but we're also now coming into Hardy's full powers – characters' lives are constrained by the boundaries and flaws of their personalities; Fate deals some heavy blows, and the Pathetic Fallacy (landscape and particularly weather echoing characters' emotions and experiences) for which Hardy is famous comes into play.

As Elfride falls in love with two very different men, and tries to manage her emotional life, we have more rounded characters, and the chorus of locals is more well integrated into the plot and throws light and shade onto it rather than being inserted and being a bit irritating. Some hilarious and nail-biting moments as well as some extremely charming ones. I very much enjoyed reading this – I think for the first time.

Reading it on the Kindle was a bit annoying, in that it's part of a collection, so I didn't know how far through the book I was: apparently, this matters to me!

SEBASTIAN FAULKS – A Week in December (Nov read)

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Acquired via BookCrossing 28 May 2011 – Hare and Hounds meetup  

Plenty of copies of this book have passed through my hands but this one "took" and I'm glad that, after some previous resistance, I read it. In a somewhat Iris Murdochian way, we follow seven interlinked lives around London. Few errors in the things I knew about, so I assume the quite complex financial stuff (which, as is usual with these things, I followed as I read but then forgot) was right. Could have easily shaded into creative writing class rubbish (c.f. If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things) but really didn't. The only slight issue I had was that maybe Faulks was a little too fond of some of his characters to present them objectively, but that's not a major fault. Absorbing and of course, cleverly read in November!

BOHUMIL HRABAL – I Served The King Of England (Nov read)

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Acquired via BookCrossing 28 May 2011 (Hare and Hounds meetup)

A kind of fantasy set in pre-WWII and wartime Czech Republic. This could obviously be read at many different levels, and I just as obviously missed a lot of the satirical element, but it was an interesting and amusing (if that's the word) story in its own right (if a little rude!) and I didn't mind the animal violence as much as usual as it was clearly metaphorical. My attention did wander a little towards the end, but overall a good and unusual read. MUCH better than Unbearable Lightness of Being!!

DEREK LAMBERT – Spanish Lessons (Nov read)

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Acquired via BookCrossing 21 May 2011 – bought at the Connected charity shop

An interesting book, if the usual British expat settles into a village type of thing. Quietly amusing, and good on the psychology of settling in to a new country.

A typical week (before)


I thought it might be useful to write down what happens in a typical work week, just before going full-time with Libro. The work level does usually build to a peak just before I drop some Library hours, and then has a terrifying slump directly afterwards. Anyway, this is what I have done this week:

Monday 28 November – I posted a blog post in my Ron’s Rants series first thing – handily, I’d managed to write up a few posts in advance so could just publish them as I went this week. I worked 7.45-3.50 at the Library. Rushed out of the house as soon as I got back with some post as I needed to wait in for a parcel for M on Tuesday. Came home and did 2 hours’ transcribing and some other bits and bobs. Watched Made in Chelsea for light relief.

Tuesday 29 November – a Libro Day. Did another hour of transcribing; spent 2 hours editing a dissertation in pdf format (annotating it with special software but, even though the English was good, it took me longer than if it had been in Word); spent over 3 hours editing a paper for a journal (including ensuring the bibliography was as the journal requires: this was actually the most time-consuming part); did some bits for a translator I work for. I also did some admin – writing and responding to emails, requests for quotations, etc. I had a proper lunch (hooray) but didn’t get out of the house until after dark, when I met M (my Other Half) in Sainsburys to get some bits and bobs. I try to get out of the house during daylight, but this wasn’t possible today!

Wednesday 30 November – another Libro Day. Published a blog post about emotions in business that I’d been inspired to write last week. Finished off the transcription I was doing in 1 hour 45 mins including spell-checking (a two-person Webinar for a lovely client – the topic is interesting to me, which does help, although I will transcribe just about anything!). I edited another article for yesterday’s client, but a shorter one this time that only took a couple of hours and did a localisation into British English for another regular – this time a website for an international company. In addition to all this I found time to do an hour or so of cleaning (we reimburse me the amount we used to pay our cleaners from the household money to do the heavy cleaning: mopping, hoovering stairs, etc.), cook a batch of meals so I have a quicker dinner time in the week, and go for a 35 minute run (in the daylight!). Before dinner, I got most of my monthly invoicing done – most of my regular clients are sent one invoice a month for all the work I have done for them during that month. What I didn’t do was go to the Birmingham Entrepreneurs Meetup, a monthly event in town that I do enjoy. But I just didn’t have the time and had to send my apologies.

Thursday 1 December – a Library day so worked 7.45-3.50 again. I wrote my first post for this blog at lunch time after deciding to launch it during the morning! Came home and recorded the payments that had already come in from yesterday’s invoicing (I like the beginning of the month). I went through the document one of my coaching clients had sent me for half an hour (I am helping them to get down to writing up their thesis) and replied to a request for a quotation. Then I stopped for the evening and went for a run with M before dinner. After dinner, some frantic BookCrossing admin (a hobby I used to spend a lot of time on!) then some relaxation time, watching a bit of telly.

Friday 2 December – woke up early and sorted out some more books, then lugged them into the Library to stock the BookCrossing Zone I set up here. A colleague took over running the Zone a few months ago, but I like to keep it filled up when I can. I published a prepared Troublesome Pair blog post on the Libro blog. A normal day at the Library, worked till 3.50 then home for some Libro bits and pieces … I logged in to an admin site to upload a business feature onto a client’s local business pages (he’d called me on the Libro mobile to ask me to do it this morning but I’d left the phone at home – this is one of the stressful things about my double life) and finished off negotiations on a piece of work for the weekend, polishing some translated English. I took delivery of some boxes of business directories for my local Business Association – I joined a few months ago, will be on the Committee from January, and M has kindly offered to help me put them through letterboxes tomorrow (my friend at work suggested that this might be so he could actually spend some time with me: I fear she’s right!). Off to the gym to get some exercise in and see a friend who goes on a Friday evening and then relaxed for the rest of the evening. This is actually proving to be quite a light week, but you can see I’m still doing something for Libro every day …

Saturday 3 December – I did a bit of housekeeping before breakfast, putting together, publishing and publicising my weekly “Freelancer/Small Business Chat” feature on a small business – this time Purple Dog Network. Then I had a bit of a read in bed – a rare luxury – before we got ourselves together for the day and spent 2 hours delivering the local Business Association directory to 480 addresses on our road and surrounding side streets. Harder work than I thought – lots of exercise opening gates, running up paths and pushing the book through all sorts of letterboxes! After a late lunch, bought at the Farmers’ Market, I put in a couple of hours working on a translation from an Eastern European language into English – my job was to polish it to make it look like it was written by a native British English speaker. I then spent 30 minutes or so working on a few blog posts for two friends who I help out for free (in one case in return for a look over my accounts every now and then). I recorded another payment from a regular client in my spreadsheet, noting that I’d hit the first of my range of 4 income targets for the month (this one was “replace the money from the 2 days I didn’t work at the library”) and then I was free for dinner, a bit of BookCrossing admin, etc.

Sunday 4 December – a billable-hours free day, I managed to work in my usual Sunday pastimes of a run in the morning, and a visit to the local cafe with a friend in the afternoon. I almost always get the run in; sometimes Libro stops me going to the cafe, mainly because I know I’ll be at the day job on Monday. I put in a couple of hours writing blog posts in the afternoon; I like to get ahead of myself, but I didn’t have one written for Monday and I needed to put together a guest post I’m publishing in the week. I also wrote my newsletter as I’ve realised the next edition is due this week. I also, excitingly, wrote an abstract to submit to the Iris Murdoch Society to see if they’ll invite me to contribute a presentation to the IM Conference in September 2012. Something I really need to do once I’m full-time with Libro is give some time to my research project (this is what it’s all about) and I hadn’t really found time to get this done!

Summary – so, actually this wasn’t a hugely, horribly, frantically busy Libro week like some have been. I did 14 hours of billable Libro work (covering my billable work target) but of course also I did a significant number of hours on admin, including monthly invoicing and the writing today. So it’s more like 18 or so hours if you add those in. Plus the 21 hours at the library. Plus two hours delivering those directories … In the weeks previous to this one I’ve done 23, 20, 16 and 18 hours on Libro, which makes it a lot more difficult. But there you have it – a week in the life “before” …

Setting the scene; setting the boundaries …


Welcome to my personal blog about changing my life and running my business full-time.

I started my business, Libro, in August 2009. I’d been doing bits and pieces of editing for people on an unpaid basis for years, and had lots of experience in various jobs, but it was when a colleague at the Library where I worked (full-time at the time) asked me if I could proof-read a couple of students’ dissertations that I decided to go for it, set up the company, registered with the Inland Revenue and went on an HMRC course to find out what to do.

Since then, my roster of clients has grown; rather than work every hour of the day on both the day job and the business, I decided to go part-time at the Library, dropping one day a week in January 2011 and a further day in May. I’ve kept spreadsheets of how I’m doing against target, built up my customer base gradually, diversified so I now offer proof-reading, copy-editing, writing, typing, transcription and localisation, and I could see through November that it was time to make the big move and take the business full-time from January.

So, I finish at the Library on 12 December (because of University General Holidays and some leave I had left to take) and then it’s Libro All The Way!

I’ve started this blog because I want to record what it feels like doing this, and how it goes. I’m about to turn 40 and this feels like a really important time in my life. At the moment, it’s busy-busy-busy – TOO busy, really, and I want to take a few moments of reflection along the way.

Some boundary setting: I won’t be talking about my clients by name or by identifiable features (so don’t worry if you’re reading this). I don’t know how often I’ll update it, so you might want to subscribe to the feed or just check back for new posts every now and then.

So: welcome to my new, more personal, blog. I’ll still be maintaining the Libro blog about language, writing, Word and business, but you’re welcome to drop by here to see how my new life is going …

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