The train ticket cost me 190 pounds. I always get a first class ticket because you then have a greater chance of getting a seat. I have to work on the laptop while travelling, so can justify this to the finance department. It's odd though, that I can fly to Switzerland and back for little over half this amount. Norwich is only 180 miles away. Nothing really worth noting about the trip. I got off at London Bridge and went down into the underground and caught the Jubilee line east to Stratford station. This station was grey and cold and it's all I want to say about that. So I arrive at Norwich and get a cab to the client premises. This is a big client by the way - has 30,000 computers so that gives you an idea.
It is always a bit nerve racking going into a new client's office for the first time, even after doing this consulting game for over five years. Problem is you never know whether you will be working with great guys or a$$holes until you arrive. I can normally tell within a minute of entering the office what it will be - a good gig or a nightmare.
The folks at this office are happy. This means they are well managed - not too stressed and not too bored and HR has adequate weed killer for the bullies. So since this is two weeks now without a cigarette and I couldn't be asked for the stress of working with the a$$hole brigade, I am very pleased to be working here.
At the end of the day I found a taxi to take me to a hotel that head office had booked for me - it's part of a chain. This one happens to be an up market chain. Rules are we require four stars, not below. Funny thing is many three star hotels are better than four star hotels, specially if they are family run.
It was a half hour drive away. It was a big old worldly type hotel surrounded by a big car park and next to a park and ride slab of asphalt. No escaping this one for alternative evening entertainment without your own vehicle. Checking in the hotel was much like checking into any other hotel, and that's a bit like being processed for prison entrance. You are asked a load of security questions and required to give them a swipe of your credit card, sort of like taking finger prints - and lectured on hotel rules such as departure time and gym access times. Thankfully I didn't get asked to spread my legs for additional inspections.
Entering the hotel room was as depressing as I thought it would be. Geez, I can't believe some people take holidays in these cells. I have included a bad pic to give you an idea.
Don't get me wrong, this hotel is as good as the rest of them. It's just that I do not get along with the hotel lifestyle. It's designed for safety, warmth and money extraction. You can't even control how hot your shower water is. They don't want you scolding yourself. You cannot cook your own meals, they want you ordering below average food at the restaurant, for above average prices. You can only open the window half an inch - they don't want you falling out or getting out without paying.
There's a little tray of refreshments and snacks.
Small packet crisps £2.00
Can of coke £1.50
Evian Water (1Litre) £3.50 (WTF??)
I sure hope the couple next door don't copulate tonight. Or if they do, I pray for a quiet copulation.