This week was my first week back at work after the Christmas break. Like many people you go back feeling refreshed and vitalised then by usually by the second day its an ordeal just to wake up at 6am. You think to yourself its only 4 days this week it will be fine but for some reason its even harder. It is just one of life’s big mysteries. Now usually the first day back at work the office is really cold. So this year we were all prepared, lots of layers, scarves, gloves hats, hot drinks and hot water bottles. We were however totally surprised to be met with almost tropical heat and it was getting to the stage where were all wondering ‘what is the least amount of clothing that is still acceptable that we can wear. On a health note we were all drinking lots of water so at were doing a detox. It is good to be back at work. Now I know some people do hate their jobs but I am quite lucky to have a job I enjoy and I work with great people. Also cabin fever was starting to creep in so I needed to get out and back into a routine.

This week also saw lots of price increases every where. First the train fares were increased. Now they always do go up in January but this year was the biggest rise that I have had or will have (I bought this months ticket just before the increase). Now I know they say the money goes back into the railway but I don’t see it going to the right areas. My trains are just getting more and more overcrowded. There are no trains really late on a weekend which is a problem if you want to go out in say Newcastle for the theatre etc. Also it is so complicated now to claim a refund on trains that have big delays most people just give up now. I do hope that this time I do see an improvement in these areas. As well as this we all have had the VAT increase. This is a big deal and is not helped by companies using it as way of misleading people over prices. E.g. I have a gym membership which I pay monthly. I had a letter this week saying it is going up to £33 due to the VAT increase. Thats fair enough however The price before that is £30. Now I am the first to admit maths is not my strong point however even I can work out that is 10%. In fact it is even more as the £30 included the VAT so it should have been 2.5% increase on the price before the VAT. Now my instinct is to complain but as it is a local authority run council I do have some sympathy as they do need to generate income due to the cuts they have received. I just wish they didn’t try and use the VAT increase as an excuse.

Another thing I want to mention is volunteering. I have been a volunteer with my local hospital radio station since 2002. Volunteering is a great thing to do and more people should try and find some time to do it. I know David Cameron keeps talking about the Big Society and yes the idea of people doing stuff in their local community is great but in practice it won’t happen. Many organisations that rely on volunteers are struggling to get people to volunteer and hospital radio is one of them. Hospital Radio is not just about playing music. We have a variety of roles such as general admin, fundraising, promoting the station, engineering, presenting  and collecting requests. Just to name a few. Without volunteers organisations such as this can’t survive, so if your New Years resolution was to become a volunteer in something or if you are thinking of what New Year Resolutions you could do, then volunteering is one I suggest you consider.

Talking of New Years resolutions I have been to the gym. OK it wasn’t a New Years resolution for me this year but I have had a few weeks off from it with the bad weather and the Christmas festivities. Now because of this I knew it was going to be a struggle but I didn’t think it was going to be so tough. Just goes to prove you can’t do the gym as and when you need to go regularly. Hopefully I will be back into soon.

January is a bad month. Most people are on tight budgets, its dark and cold and nothing to look forward to. Now this month is my birthday along with most of my office. Now to some this is something we should enjoy but the reality is that its not. Well maybe its just me thinking that as I turn 30 which is still hard to deal with. Having a birthday so close to Christmas is not good as you want celebrations to be spread evenly through the year. someone asked me this week if I was looking forward to my birthday and replied ‘no’. I am looking forward to the celebration/ night out in Newcastle but the fact that I turn 30 is painful so I am going to make the most of the next few weeks or at least try and forget about my impending doom.

Oh just a quick note on the knitting craze that is sweeping my work office. A fellow colleague has fallen over the Christmas break so the number of survivors is dwindling. Need to counteract I’m thinking Lego is the way forward.

Sorry if this blog got a bit political but I felt it needed saying. Thanks for reading the blog. I am constantly surprised at the response I get from all of you.

So until next week, bye for now.

Top TV programme of the week : Stargazing Live

Top song of the week: Regina Spektor – The Call

Book I am currently reading: Resurrectionist by James McGee