Sunday, 11 November 2012

Going Dutch, the Morning After Breakfast, and the Magnificent 7

Last week was an interesting one. For the first time in 5 years I had an interview for a job. Usual preparation undertaken, hair trimmed, suit dry cleaned, the one tie located and sponged cleaned, bright smile practiced in the mirror. Tuesday dawned and it was Lights, Action, and Camera. I really enjoyed the interview process. For me, it was a little like being on a stage, albeit it was a rather small and somewhat intimate audience. I thought I had done a good job and felt things had gone well. There was the usual wait and then...

...well the then occurred while I was at Manchester Airport the following morning. My phone rings and a voice says ‘sorry not calling with good news I’m afraid’. Now at the time I was negotiating what a vegetarian Full English Breakfast should entail with an Italian waiter in a so called Italian restaurant priding itself on providing the best breakfast in Terminal 3. Whilst the news wasn’t particularly appetising, the FEB was FAB.

I was at the airport, en-route to a medieval town in Holland called Zwolle – pronounced Svolla. I was going there to take part in Workshop 5 of the EmpNURS project. The EmpNURS project aims to advance the empowerment of nursing through mentorship. The EU funded project is made up of 11 partner organisations located in the Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary, Lithuania, Romania, the Netherlands and United Kingdom.

The workshop was attended by 21 colleagues drawn from all the partnership organisations - and we all pitched up at the Hotel Fidder. Just take a look at the pictures on this web site:;label=msn-VIqUy1jDwtPLuDssWIaucA

I was last at this hotel some 4 years ago and loved it then and if anything, the place grew on me even more this time. If you have a spare weekend and are wondering how to spend it, whizz across to Amsterdam, catch the train to Zwolle and have yourself a great time. And hats off to Collin, who was the most attentive host at the Hotel; absolutely nothing was too much trouble for him.

The Workshop was a successful one and much progress was made. However, there is 1 more year to go and now we must find the evidence to illustrate the sustainability of the projects outcomes. Not as easy as it sounds. With this many countries involved, there are many opportunities for differences in interpretation of ideas, concepts, the words used to describe experiences and so on. Our hosts, Ernia, Nicole and Valerie from the Windesheim University of Applied Sciences provided a perfect place to address these differences and plan a united way forward.

Whilst the trip was a very good one, there were a couple of downsides. No 1, we were given bikes to use to get from the Hotel to the University. This was a journey that was probably the most frightening of my life. No 2, well that was the train journey to Schipol Airport. I was travelling with my colleague Karen. Once on the train we found our seats were in the quiet carriage. So we said OK, lets not use our iPods or phones. We settled down to sandwiches and coffee and some catch up conversations. 3 times we were told, with various levels of anger, that we were in the quiet carriage and that meant NO talking. Silence meant silence. It seemed a strange, almost over the top reaction in country whose government legalised prostitution in 2000.

Interestingly, the World Health Organisation reports that sexually transmitted diseases are a major global cause of acute illness, infertility, long term disability and severe medical and psychological consequences for millions of men, women and children. However, the World Health Organization makes no comment about the health risks associated with talking on trains or riding on bikes.