Thursday, October 12, 2006

Too Many Cooks

I awoke yesterday at the ungodly hour of 7am. Unless you live outside Belfast there is no reason to set your alarm for this time. It was pitch black outside and only forced to remind me that by November it will be like this when I rise at my usual scheduled awakening. Even more depressing was the walk in which was made more of a chore because it was blustery and raining sheets which came in at all angles. Autumn is like season of reckoning for umbrella's and their outurned corpses can be found scattered along the footpaths, sticking out of bins and thrown into hedges, the residue of anger that thrust it to it's resting place still evident.

After sitting around the reception like we were on a primary school trip to the zoo, the bus arrived and we climbed aboard. I made my way to the back, slumped against the wall, pulled my coat hood over my head and tried to nap. Unfortunately this was made impossible due to bumps in the road and Cool FM being pumped around speakers inside the bus. After what seemed like 2 hours [although it was 40 minutes I was told] we arrived in Carlingford.

After filing into Ghan House we were offered a spread of tea, coffee and assorted cream scones. Needless to say I went straight to the coffee doofer but despite my efforts at tugging the switch back and forth, I couldn't get my morning fix by pushing the button so I let out a sigh and stormed off causing a small scene. Early mornings + No coffee = tantrum.

Introductions by Ghan House staff over, we broke up into two teams, one creating an Italian 3 course meal, the other team creating Irish. I was in the Irish food group so we were making warm potato salad, salmon and buttermilk creams. I know what you're thinking but I held the excitement back.

As you may imagine, 10 people trying to make the same 3 dishes gets overly complicated, the kitchen toocrowded and no-one knows what everyone else is doing. As I have had some experience with the weekly meals directed people what to do I diplomatically suggested what people needed to do and stuck to doing one thing at a time and even showed the chef a new way to poach an egg - take a mug and a large piece of clingfilm tucked into the mug. Crack the egg into the mug and tie up the ends sealing the egg in a bundle before setting into a simmering pan of boiling water until done which gives you a perfect round egg.

After hours of toil we finally knocked up the 3 course meal and took our seats whilst the staff made our meals look good on the plates. I actually have to say it turned out pretty good although it was very filling and I couldn't finish any of the 3 dishes. Everyone was absolutely stuffed and a few of us had to walk it off before meeting up for a very boring afternoon session.

We sat around a table and played a stupid game of taking your first name and adding an adjective i.e. I was 'Playful Phil' and the next person had to memorise and repeat previous names adding their own to the end. After that was over we broke up into two teams to discuss negative issues that arose after the staff satisfaction survey but because it was already late we only had 30 minutes to chat and report so nothing really got covered. We then finished with telling everyone what we enjoyed about the day and what we liked about the person sitting to our left. It was ridiculous and quite farcical.

So that was our magical away day. The upshot being that these things only occur every 2 years so I shouldn't be around to sit through another one.

Has anyone else had pointless staff away days or work sessions?

Thanks for your patronage and see you tomorrow for a breakdown on what Brian bammed up in the kitchen.



Anonymous Skry said...

I was nominated for an award which I won when I worked in Halifax. Nicola (a co-worker) and I were sent to a 5-Star top-of-the-range hotel in England that was well fancy - apparently rich foreign football teams stay there when they're playing in England.

It was a pretty big place with an 18-hole golf course and tons of facilities. Our rooms came with 4-poster beds and we were presented with a host of themed group activities (themed around James Bond for this years winners).

It was great fun and we did mini-hovercrafting, mock-bomb disposal (wee buns!) and a treasure hunt type of thing. We also did some BB-gun shooting, which Nicola and I excelled at, much to everyone's expectations. We're from Northern Ireland I guess, but I didn't expect us to get 39/40 and scores like that - that was 3 bullseyes and a near bully!

It was a lot of fun, but most staff days in Halifax were in the same building we worked in and were cheesy to say the least. Team building exercises pretty much equal suckage... I guess I was just lucky with that one!

The best thing is to have a Sports and Social, so that the employees and not the managers can decide what everyone is doing. You're more likely to end up doing something you like that way.

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