2013 365 Challenge #3 and a Confession

The last time we went to Bologna (in 2007) it was our first wedding anniversary and we ended up visiting the Ferrari Museum. I am truly the best of wives...

The last time we went to Bologna (For a wedding in 2007) it was also our first wedding anniversary. We ended up visiting the Ferrari Museum. I am truly the best of wives…

Day three, still writing! Actually I have to fess-up that the weekend posts will mostly be written and scheduled tomorrow because we are heading to Italy on Saturday for a Baptism. The kids are so excited to be going on an aeroplane they haven’t stopped talking about it.

My husband and I are just wondering if we’re mad: we’re flying to Venice airport, driving the 40mins into Venice for lunch (I’ve never been!) before driving 2.5 hours to Bologna to check into our hotel. Thankfully the Baptism is on Sunday and we fly home on Monday so it should be a little calmer after that. I’ll be back to real-time writing next week. Please forgive my little cheat and rest assured I’ll still be writing while I’m away, just not posting.

Here is the third installment of my 2013 365 Challenge.


Claire’s heart thumped beneath her gold heart pendant as she saw the email in her inbox. Carl had been quiet about her new assignment for a day or two and things had gone on as normal. Well, as normal as it got in AJC. Steve had filled her diary with meetings to discuss the accounts he was due to take over but, as he was away on a three-day conference, the meetings weren’t until the following week. Hoping the conversation in Carl’s office would go away like an unwelcome case of acne, Claire had continued with preparation for the Vodafone shoot and the Birds Eye’s Press Ads.

Claire looked at the email subject line and felt her hand quiver as it hovered over the track-pad on her laptop. Just click Open and find out the worst. Her hand shook for a moment more before she dragged the cursor over the email link and clicked.

The email was terse, as Carl’s often were.

Details of your assignment. Julia will sort the details. You start 1st March.

Good luck.


She could imagine Carl sitting laughing at his desk as he wrote the words. Good Luck indeed. Bastard. She opened the attachment and was surprised to see it was only a single page with Coca Cola and YHA logos at the top. Scanning through the words quickly she saw that the brief had been prepared by Carl’s boss, the top man himself.

So Carl wasn’t talking complete crap when he said this came from the Board. Great.

It didn’t make Claire feel any better to know that her sudden move had been decreed by the powers-that-be. In some ways if it had been Carl’s vindictive move she could have handled that better, found some way to get her own back or turn it to her advantage. Knowing that she had come to the attention of the Board made her skin prickle.

Unable to avoid it any longer, Claire turned her attention to the actual brief.

Assignment: To travel to each of the Youth Hostelling Association’s 200 hostels, located throughout England and Wales.

Your assignment includes maintaining a blog to discuss reviews of the hostels, utilising social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to inform Fans of amusing stories and anecdotes, and generally promoting the brands of Coca Cola and YHA.

You will relinquish your company car and be given one more suited to your assignment. We will arrange for your apartment to be let and cover reasonable expenses, although you will be expected to stick within a backpacker’s budget (c. £20-£30 a day). You will continue to receive your normal salary and holiday entitlement.

Your accommodation for your first two nights’ stay has been booked in the Northernmost Hostel at Berwick-Upon-Tweed for 1st and 2nd March. From that point on you will be expected to plan your own route and manage your own bookings.

Your secondment is for one year, including your allotted holiday allowance. This means you will need to manage the length of your stay at each hostel, and your driving route from hostel to hostel, to ensure that you have visited each of the 200 hostels in that time.

Claire’s mind reeled as she read and re-read the brief. A car more suited to my assignment? She thought lovingly of the charcoal grey Audi parked in the street below. Take my Audi away? And her apartment. Okay, it wasn’t really hers. Mortgages were for people with kids and dogs. Hers was rented, furnished and serviced. Her sleek steel kitchen was kept clean by a firm who came once a week. Still, it was uncomfortable to think of someone else living there.

There was a hard knot in the centre of Claire’s brain and she knew the worries about her car and flat were skirting around the real issue. £20-£30 a day? That wasn’t going to buy more than an M&S sandwich, a couple of Starbucks and a takeaway noodles for dinner. Was she meant to pay for her hostel room and petrol out of that too? I’m not paying for it out of my salary, that’s for sure. If they’re going to make me do this I at least want to come out of it with something.

Claire’s mind drifted to pictures of a fortnight’s holiday in the Maldives when the ordeal was over. She’d never had enough money left before, after maintaining her shoe-and-handbag habit, but a year living on expenses would leave her nicely in the black. Claire sat back in her chair and smiled suddenly. The brief didn’t say when she could take her holiday. There was nothing stopping her dossing around the country for a few weeks and then jetting off for white sandy beaches and bath-water-warm seas.

Maybe things were looking up after all.


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