| Real Life Strategies for Building Wealth
Should I Stay or Should I Go: My Decision on Taking Voluntary Redundancy Pay

Should I Stay or Should I Go: My Decision on Taking Voluntary Redundancy Pay

In this post, I share the reasons for my decision on taking voluntary redundancy pay in the hope that this may help some of you, my friends, make up your minds when in the same, or similar, situation.

Lately, I’ve been focusing mainly on writing pieces that may help you. While there is an exhibitionist in every blogger – we don’t shy away from sharing our lives – I do not fall in the camp believing that my life is a beacon to lead others on the path of success and righteousness. Hence, most of what I’ve been sharing has been a mixture between research, experimentation results and personal reflection.

Today, I’ll share with you my decision on taking voluntary redundancy pay from my job and why I made it.

Couple of months ago, I told you that my employer – the University of Manchester – has a round of voluntary severance that, failing to make the numbers, will change to compulsory redundancy. More importantly, I shared 7 ways to transform the threat of redundancy into a glorious opportunity.

(If you are in the same situation, you’ll need to make sure that you understand what redundancy entails and your rights.)

I still stand by my conviction that job redundancy can be one of the most glorious opportunities in your life. Just to remind you, the seven ways to conquer the fear of being made redundant and transform this into an opportunity are:

#1. Focus on gain not on the loss

#2. Love your work not your job

#3. Work out what your strengths are

#4. Map opportunities ‘out there’

#5. Do your sums

#6. Take it one step at the time

#7. Believe in yourself because you are more resourceful than you think

And my decision is:

I’m not applying for voluntary redundancy pay.

How did I get to make this decision?

I did what I have most problem with: I followed my own advice.

This is what transpired:

Focusing on the gains, I felt excited about all possibilities that taking voluntary redundancy pay offers.

One set of possibilities are around career change which I’ve been considering for some time now. For instance, I’d love to write pieces (articles, blogs and books) that people enjoy reading, find helpful and see as knowledge that improves their quality of life. Over 30 years of my life I’ve dedicated to figuring out the ways in which science works and contributes to health, wealth and quality of life. I’ve published many research articles and books on the matter; some are highly cited. None of these matters and on occasion my work has been misused. I reckon it is time to change that and I’d love to help, support and entertain – using the same arsenal of skills and competencies that took two Masters, two PhDs and a lengthy career in research to develop.

Another set of possibilities is to continue doing what I do very well (research and publish in my field) but move to a place that provides me with better conditions to do so. This set of possibilities didn’t make me jump with excitement, though.

A third set of possibilities, is to focus, almost exclusively, on my investments and businesses. This is a contender for the top spot but I’m concerned that I may get bored over time.

Very likely I’d enjoy my life including a combination between these possibilities.

Given all these gains from taking redundancy pay why I decided against?

Because, just like more than one roads lead to Rome, there are more than one ways to realise all these gains. One is to take a sabbatical leave. It so happens that I’m due eighteen months of sabbatical leave on full pay.

I love the work I do. Research and teaching are part of my soul and things started getting strained and uncomfortable when my university (and other universities in the UK) started taking these out of my soul and making them just a job.

To do the work I love, I don’t need to be employed (in the long run) by a university and certainly not one in the UK. Again, taking a year and a half sabbatical leave, I hope, will allow me to do the work I love without the irritations of the job; and time to make up my mind decisively.

I see the ‘network economy’ as a major opportunity for me; and others like me. Success in the network economy – and success on line – requires a skill set that overlaps almost completely with the one that any moderately successful academic already has developed. Risking sounding cocky, I’m quite a bit above the average.

Another opportunity is investing. Over the last five years, I created three conditions for success in that: a) I built capital; b) I learned a lot about various kinds of investing; and c) I experimented with some success.

Again, eighteen months sabbatical would give the opportunity to test my investing mantle and my ability to make it in the network economy. Hence, the question for me becomes, whether I’d be able to generate income – mostly passive – that is equal to me current professorial salary. I’ll keep you posted on this one.

I did my sums, friend. This is the main factor that swayed my decision against taking voluntary severance pay. To put this bluntly, eighteen months sabbatical leave on full pay, contributions to my pension and NI works out to be much more than the fourteen months basic salary offered by the redundancy programme. So, there!

Just for the record, I still believe that I have the resources to make it outside the university. It is just that I have the option to go for the radical solution (take voluntary redundancy) or withdraw for eighteen months and do my damn best to ‘resurrect my cashflow’ in the relative safety of a sabbatical leave.

I‘m choosing the latter.

Finally…

Couple of months back I found myself on a list of academic staff at risk of redundancy. This meant that I had to make up my mind whether to apply for voluntary redundancy pay or not.

In this article, I shared my reason for not applying for voluntary severance (redundancy) – while blissfully looking forward to all the gains that leaving my job may offer, I have another route to getting there. This route consists of taking a year and half sabbatical leave on full pay and benefits. I thought that this is a no brainer and I’ll be able to do all the things I want to test in relative employment and financial safety.

This is my reasoning for not applying for redundancy pay. Can you see any gaps in my reasoning? Am I getting this one wrong?

Which One Are You: 4 Different Types of People When It Comes to Money

Which One Are You: 4 Different Types of People When It Comes to Money

We all know people who handle money completely differently from the rest of their family or their partner. One spends, and the other saves to the point of making the eagle scream.

Basically, there are four different types of people when it comes to money. You can even take quizzes to see which type you are.

So, which one are you? Take a look at the brief description of each of the four types below:

1. The Spender

The spender is the saver’s opposite. If they see something they want, like the latest smartphone, it’s theirs immediately. Money is no object. In fact, cash is no object because the Spender will fearlessly rack up purchases on their credit card. The Spender is a big believer in YOLO: you only live once. Why pass up a purchase that gives pleasure?

Well, one big reason is because no cash in your savings and maxed out credit cards are not a recipe for financial happiness. Ultimately, if you want larger purchases such as a car, house or investments, you will need a certain amount of money saved. The Spender puts themselves out of the running, and it may take years to undo the damage. The best thing for the Spender to do is commit to a budget notebook. They need to write down everything they spend for a month. This can be very revealing of spending patterns, particularly when they see the impulse purchases add up.

Once the Spender gets a sense of what they are spending on, they can plan a reasonable budget in which spending is intermixed with meeting basic needs and saving. It’s all about balance. You don’t have to cut all spending — just make sure spending is not injuring other categories.

2. The Saver

The Saver saves. They can tell you to a tee what the balance is in their accounts. They shop for the best deals in interest rates. Savings accumulate faster that way. They may use an app that saves automatically based on an algorithm. They don’t splurge on movies or any other entertainment need, figuring that Netflix or the library can fit the bill for most movies. They make their own pizza rather than ordering out.

In fact, the Saver may save almost too much. They’re likely to avoid using credit cards and are the ones who don’t own a car/bike walk to work. A car down payment would put too much of a dent in their savings. Admirable, certainly, and green to boot. But the fact is, the saver also needs to make purchases like a car or house at some point.

Savers tend to see saving as security. At some point, they need to pivot to see major investments as security.

3. The Too Pure for Money

People who are Too Pure for Money genuinely see money as a source of bad things — think greed, hypocrisy and envy. So they tend to avoid it to pursue the finer things in life. Often, Too Pure for Money people will put off asking for a raise because they fear it will make them look greedy, selfish or demanding.

The key for Too Pure for Money folks is to see money as part of life. It is almost impossible to go through life without paying bills or being concerned with salary. If anything, Too Pure for Money people can be accused of arrogance rather than greed.

That said, there are some things they can do to make life easier. If they don’t want to deal with money, setting up automatic bill pay will help. Bills will be paid on time, and Too Pure for Money will not have to sit down and deal with it, past the initial set up. Automatic savings are also helpful for this personality.

4. The Know-Nothing

The Know-Nothing neither spends nor saves. They simply refuse to look their checkbook in the eye. Checkbooks are never reviewed to see balances or whether checks have cleared. Bills may or may not be paid. They don’t know quite how many credit cards they have or whether or not they are maxed out. From there, things may go from bad to worse. They may stop opening bills or any financial communications because they imagine the situation is much worse than it is.

Know-Nothings imagine terrible things ensuing from financial engagement. They need to adopt a “step at a time” approach. Commit to opening all bills for a month and paying them on time. Then move to balancing accounts. See financial knowledge as part of community responsibility.

Know-Nothings can also benefit from monitoring their spending. It, like bills, may turn out to be not as bad as they feared. The chief need for a Know-Nothing is to know more about their spending and saving. Then, plan for their top three financial goals. Whether those goals are a house, a vacation and a car, or something different entirely, saving for each will foster engagement.

Understanding which of these money personality types you are, as well as the strengths, weaknesses and tendencies of that personality, can help you live your best financial life.

Editor’s note: Anum Yoon is a millennial money blogger who runs Current on Currency. Catch her latest personal finance tips on Twitter @anumyoon.

photo credit: farouq_taj Miser via photopin (license)

7 Ways to Transform Job Redundancy into the Most Exciting Opportunity of Your Life

7 Ways to Transform Job Redundancy into the Most Exciting Opportunity of Your Life

In this post I discuss seven ways that will get you away from viewing a job redundancy as the end of your dreams and see it as the opportunity of a lifetime. Faced with job redundancy we feel fearful and stressed; this is only to be expected. Heck, I want to crawl in bed just now and not get out of it for a very long time. What I feel at the moment, however, matters little; what I do next is important. In this post, I’ll share with you what I do/have done to transform job redundancy into the most exciting opportunity of my settled, cushy, middle class life.

In brief, the seven ways to make a glorious opportunity out of the threat of job redundancy are:
#1. Focus on gain not on the loss
#2. Love your work not your job
#3. Work out what your strengths are
#4. Map opportunities ‘out there’
#5. Do your sums
#6. Take it one step at the time
#7. Believe in yourself because you are more resourceful than you think

Imagine how one morning you get up, have breakfast, read the news and complete your ablutions. You sing in the shower because life is looking good: you know what you want, you have a plan how to get it and you enjoy the way getting there. You get in your car (hop on your bike or the bus) and arrive at the office. All kinds of opportunities are open to you and underneath all these is the unshakable belief that you’ll continue this sequence of events and you’ll be coming to the office, contributing to the organisation and it is your choice how long this goes on for. It is about feeling secure and in control, you know. Then you open your e-mail and you can’t believe your eyes – what you see is a message announcing a round of job redundancies.

This is almost exactly what happened to me, and to all academics employed by my university, last Wednesday.

So, my friends, I’m sitting here writing this post and my job is at risk of redundancy. And it is not only my university: the whole higher education sector in the UK is in profound crisis. Three other universities are undergoing job redundancies and many others are considering their options.

Do you want to know what I felt when I first read the job redundancy message?

I felt wronged, angry, fearful, full of righteous indignation and silly fight, I felt defeated. In this order! Than I reminded myself to breathe and started thinking about how to make the best of a very bad situation.

Somewhere on the way between fear and acceptance I realised that this job redundancy, assuming that I manage to get it under the conditions I’ve worked out, may be the best opportunity to do something sensible with the rest of my settled life.

Here are the seven ways I used to transform the threat of job redundancy into a most exciting opportunity for happiness and fulfilling existence.

#1. Focus on what you’ll gain through job redundancy not on what you’d lose

When I first heard the news about the job redundancy my mind jump-started an inventory of all that I’m going to lose. You know, these are all random thoughts about loss of status (oh, I’m not going to be Professor Nedeva any longer), identity (I’m not going to be an academic and a respected researcher any longer) and income (there won’t be a large(ish) amount of money hitting my bank account every month) shooting through your mind.

Reminding myself that ‘if I’m not enough without it, I’m not enough with it’ helped a bit; a tiny bit.

Then I decided to change my focus and think about the things I’ll gain if I engineer my job redundancy.

  • I saw myself in complete control of what I do with my time.
  • I imagined myself writing books that people what to read not research papers my university wants me to publish.
  • I reminded myself of all the wacky and wonderful projects I’ve thought about and never tackled.

And, you know what, I felt my fear of job redundancy recede and a youthful excitement take its place. I can hardly wait to begin the rest of my life!

#2. Do you love your job or you love what you do?

We often mistakenly believe that we love our jobs when in fact we love what we do. These are two very different things. You may love selling flowers and dislike your job in a particular flower shop, right?

When it comes to being a university professor, the difference is even more pronounced.

I love what I do. There are few things that give me more pleasure than holding a class of undergrads transfixed and seeing the spark of curiosity and passion for learning in their eyes. Every cell in my middle aged body starts humming with pleasure and excitement when I do my research (all stages).

For several years I have been less certain that I like the conditions under which my university expects me to do what I love doing. I’d go as far as saying that I would have checked at least four of the five signs that you should leave your job.

Realising that I love what I do but have grown to dislike my job makes the experience of loss because of job redundancy much less strong. Also, I started thinking about different ways to continue to do what I love doing while forgoing my job.

#3. Do you know what you are really good at?

This is a hard one because people tend to either overstate or understate their competencies. (Some people can get this one completely off kilter but this is not usually the case.)

I tend to underplay my competencies. Hence, it was very helpful to do an ‘inventory of competencies’. I just wrote everything I can do (this should be done without much thinking and strain). When you do this, please don’t concern yourselves if you find that you’ve put on the list things like ‘I can wipe a baby’s bottom’ or ‘I’m very good in the sack’.

Because the next step of this exercise is to get back to your list and match each competence with a way to mobilise it for income generation. You can choose not to take some obvious possibilities forward.

This exercise made me feel good. Unexpectedly I saw that my competencies as a successful scholar are almost exact match for the competencies one needs to succeed in the network economy. A possibility to make income from writing also transpired. Not that hopeless after all!

(I did find this very hard and would appreciate some help from you guys at some point. I’d like to ask you about how you see what I’m good at (have to find a form to do that.)

#4. Brainstorm some opportunities that you can see ‘out there’

This one is deceptively simple. To do it properly, however, you’ll need to achieve a good grasp of the developments in the economy, your industry and have an overview of future trends. Apart from that, you’ll need to move continuously – and for some time – between the opportunities to make income and contribute value that are ‘out there’ and the competencies you have.

You may need change your skills set. You may need to gain different social capital (start hanging with new people, make contacts with people in other industries etc.).

Sounds complicated but it isn’t. All this takes is intelligence, determination and persistence.

#5. Do your sums

Loss of income is probably the aspect of job redundancy that scares people most.

There are few things that deal away with fear more effectively than firm grasp of the fact. Here is where maths and numbers come into the picture.

To cope with the fear of loss of income you have to move away from the emotion and make it into a problem. Sit down and go through your monthly spending. I did this using The Money Principle Monthly Budget Planner. Check your income streams, savings and investments. How much is in your emergency fund? Work out how much you’ll get as severance payment? Check what will be the effects of job redundancy on your pension?

I’ve done most of these and I’ll be talking to a pension consultant over the next week. And you know what?

Numbers don’t lie and I feel so much better for the level of certainty they bring to my otherwise shaky existence. I know exactly how much income I have to make (as a minimum). It is not too bad, really.

#6. Take it one step at a time

The threat of job redundancy can leave you completely paralysed if you get ahead of yourself. Your best chance for getting it right, and approaching it with something at least approximating a dignified rationality, is to work out a sequence of actions and focus points and follow this strictly.

For me, the first question is do I want to apply for voluntary redundancy? (This hide several questions such as do I want to stay in academe, do I believe that I’ll make it outside etc.). What is important is that this decision is still under my control.

Next, if I were to decide not to apply for voluntary severance, would be to wait for compulsory redundancy. This is stressful but…

Main thing is not to allow yourself to worry what may or may not happen when you leave your job. Remember that most people when faced with adversity behave like Israel: they hustle according to their need. In other words, it seems to me that expanding energy worrying about what you’d do ‘after’ is a wasteful strategy: you’ll be all right at the end.

#7. Remind yourself that ‘it will be all right at the end’

Life has an uncanny way of sorting itself out. Please remind yourself that:

“It will be all right at the end and if it is not all right, it is simply not the end.”

Bonus…The Eminem Approach to Job Redundancy

To apply the Eminem approach to job redundancy you have to believe that

Success is your only motherf*cking option; failure’s not!

This is all.

 

Sometimes Even a Practicing Frugal Artist Can Make the Wrong Decision

Sometimes Even a Practicing Frugal Artist Can Make the Wrong Decision

Tonight, I’d like to tell you about a decision I made today and why it was a fail for a practicing frugal artist.

You know, I was planning to give you a post on how to know whether an ISA is a good one for you. It is almost there; an hour or two of work and you’d be reading an erudite, well-constructed and, hopefully, useful article about selecting the ISA that is right for you. I had to abandon this plan – I simply couldn’t bring myself to finish the article.

It is a worthy topic. I have something to tell you that is different from what you’d normally find on a personal finance blog. Why did I postpone the project?

Because when I arrived home from a day in the office my legs were shaking, my heart was racing and my blood sugar was so low that everything inside me gently rang from tiredness. Including my usually sharp mind.

Today started as any normal day. My alarm went off at 7.06 am (don’t ask). I jumped out of bed, brushed my teeth and checked my citations and blog mentions (just kidding, dear; only the teeth brushing part is right.) Did some work and then…

…Decided to cycle to the office. It seemed like a the thing to do; just like running bare foot through a field of cacti may seem like a good idea at the time.

Now, I’m passionate about frugality as an art form or, as this is also known, frugal artistry. I’m a practicing frugal artist. Let me remind you what this means.

When practicing frugality as an art form, our decisions are result from:

  • Complex thinking that considers variety of factors. This way of thinking precludes silliness like driving 50 miles to save 5 pence on a can of baked beans.
  • Broad concerns including quality of life, relationships and happiness. Cooking from scratch, for instance, is not only cheaper but is also healthier (less salt and sugar in meals) and can create a communal spirit (as in cooking together sharing some nice wine).
  • Long term vision. Suffice to say that frugality as an art form precludes actions today that would cost us dearly in the future.

Becoming a practicing frugal artist doesn’t come over-night; it needs changing your mindset and developing new, sometimes counter-intuitive, habits.

Once I figured out the difference between simply being frugal and being a practicing frugal artist I spent years training myself in the art.

And today, I still got it completely wrong.

Why I thought cycling to work is the right thing to do?

Cycling to work has been on my mind for some time now because of the interesting combination of advantages it usually offers. These are:

  • Cycling is good exercise.
  • My office is far enough to get my blood pumping and close enough not to have to cycle for hours.
  • Cycling saves me on transport.
  • Cycling means that I’m getting my daily aerobic exercise while commuting; this saves time.

This has the makings of frugality as an art form, right? I can be getting exercise, saving on transport and saving time at the same time. Health benefits galore (if I manage to avoid being run over by a bus, that is).

To top it all off, today was a bright and crisp day – just perfect for cycling.

Why cycling was the wrong decision?

What I missed in my decision making was that I’m not very fit now and that I have early morning meetings at the office.

Yes, I’m getting fitter. This is from running though and cycling uses, as I was reminded today, somewhat different kind of fitness. Probably a mile into the cycling, I started finding it hard. I still had to push hard if I were to get to the office on time for my meetings.

You get the drill – I arrived out of puff, red-faced and slightly sweaty. Not the way I like to start my working days.

The ride back was even worse. While I could take it more gently, my behind was so sore that I was eager to get back home.

Instead of saving time, I wasted couple of hours – I felt so tired when I got home that I had to rest instead of finishing my article for you.

Finally…

In the balance, was it worth saving £3 (the return bus ticket)?

Not for me. I know that many people can, and do, cycle to work every day and no doubt experience all the benefits I mentioned above.

I am not fit enough, I’m wobbly on a bike and too nervous of traffic. From now on, I’d stick with walking and using the bus.

Have you made a decision you thought will bring you many benefits just to find that you’ve been wrong?

photo credit: byronv2 coastal cycle via photopin (license)

Happy Easter or Christos Voskrese: Sweet Easter Bread and Painted Eggs

Happy Easter or Christos Voskrese: Sweet Easter Bread and Painted Eggs

If you were wondering what the second part of this sentence means it is:

Christ is risen!

This is the traditional Easter salutation in Bulgaria (and I suspect in several other Slavic language countries). The response is:

Voistina voskrese! (In truth is risen!)

My friends, you already know that I don’t do religion very well. Believing in God, particularly in a God that can be an evil, stubborn and angry deity, is not possible for me. Similarly, I can’t be an atheist: atheism in its extreme is no better (probably even worse) than fanatical faith.

I’m agnostic. This way I can recognise that God may not exist but he/she is still real: so much has been done in his/her name. Being an agnostic also keeps my options open: when desperate I can still resort to praying to a supreme being of my own choice.

I also believe that our destiny is in our own hands and the alignment of considerable number of conditions. I believe in social structures and agency (you see, the former provides opportunity and constraints and the latter the willingness and ability to act).

Even today, on this holiest of holy days in the Christian calendar – particularly in the Easter Orthodox Christianity – my mind is very far from God.

But I respect tradition.

I celebrate Easter and follow the traditions of my grandmother and the ones who come before her.

We don’t celebrate with over-prised chocolate eggs. Why would I miss on preparing some of the most delicious seasonal food? (Dropping the chocolate eggs also saves a lot of money.)

There are three essential parts to celebrating Easter in the Orthodox Christian tradition:

#1. Traditional Sweet Easter bread

Sweet Easter bread

I still remember my grandmother and my mother making sweet Easter bread. They used to get up very early in the morning to make it. It took the good eight hours of physically challenging work to make the dough, to have it raise couple of times, to shape the bread and to bake it. I reckon, only making the dough equals four-five hours Cross Fit.

Now, chunking up makes sense when so much effort is expanded. We always ended up with a lot of sweet Easter bread. Two days later my Dad will almost have to take an axe to the sweet bread to be able to cut it; the only way to eat it was either with water or with yoghurt.

Don’t let this put you off though. Things have moved on and sweet Easter bread may be 2-3000 calories a look but it is delicious.

I make it in the bread making machine. Here is how:

Ingredients:

2 ½ teaspoons yeast

520 g white flour

200 ml whole milk

120 g sugar

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon orange zest (or lemon)

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 large eggs

Egg for glaze

Preparation:

#1. Place the milk, 260 g of flour and yeast in the breadmaker and process on dough setting (on mine it is programme 16 and takes 2 hours and 20 minutes)

#2. Mix the rest of the flour (260 g) with the sugar, salt and orange zest.

#3. Once the first dough cycle is complete add the flour mixture, olive oil and eggs. Process on dough setting again.

#4. When the second cycle is complete, remove the dough on floured surface, punch down and form into a ball.

#5. Cover with a towel and leave it to rest for 15 minutes.

#6. Divide and pleat.

#7. Allow the dough to rise (about an hour or place in a over at about 50C for 20 minutes)

#8. Glaze

#9. Bake for 35-40 minutes in an oven pre-heated to 170C.

After the Easter bread has cooled down, rap it in cling film to prevent it from drying out.

#2. Painted eggs

Painted eggs are a must for good Easter celebration. If you wish to try painting them you need to hard boil a dozen (or more) eggs. This takes approximately 15 minutes. Don’t forget to put a bit of vinegar in the water and to lower the flame after the eggs start boiling: otherwise the eggs will crack and would be no good as Easter eggs.

To colour the eggs, you need to buy special paint; this is sold by many Polish shops or you can buy it on amazon.com.

On Easter day, having an ‘egg fight’ is one of the entertainments. This means that you try to break each other’s egg and the one whose egg is still unbroken at the end of this wins. (I never win.)

Naturally, breakfast includes a hardboiled egg.

#3. Roast lamb

The celebratory lunch is roast lamb. We just had this and I feel so full that my lids are gently closing while writing this.

There is nothing much to roasting lamb. Except that my sister taught me to put is in tray (after rubbing some salt, paprika and olive oil in it) with a cup of water and well covered with foil. Roast it like this for two and a half hours (190C) then take the foil off and keep it in for 20-30 more minutes in the oven.

Delicious.

Finally…

Easter in Eastern Orthodoxy is also about respect. Young people visit their older relatives to show their respect.

We hosted my family this year.

Now the celebration is over and we have another day of rest. May this day be the first a new, productive cycle for John and me.

Happy Easter!

I’m in Love and it is Not What You May Think

I’m in Love and it is Not What You May Think

Yes, it is April Fools Day. I’m not trying to fool you though – I’m not very good at doing that.

I’m in love!

Still, John has nothing to worry about because I fell in love not with a person but with Colorado; or at least what I’ve seen of it.

As some of you know, I have been in Colorado – Boulder and Denver – since last Sunday. A colleague and I attended a conference at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

I’m not going to bother telling you about the conference: like any event like that it had its ups and downs. Regretfully, many of the downs were about content and substance of the conference and the ups about the location and receptions that it offered.

Boulder took my breath away. I love everything about it: the sleepy feel about it, its informality, the beauty of the mountain views and the warmth of its people.

Our driver from Boulder to Denver told us that ‘Boulder is a big bubble’. Bubble it may be and very pleasant one at that.

(Boulder also took my breath away literally: on the day after we arrived I misguidedly decided to go for a run and this made the coming on altitude sickness so much worse. It is finally abiding and tomorrow we’ll be flying home. Next time, I’ll come with John and (possibly) our son and we’ll stay for longer, enjoying the mountains.).

I also got to hang with my blogging buddy Michelle Jackson. Michelle made our day in Denver very special and we got to appreciate the city so much better. We also got to experience the foodie culture of Colorado (Denver): I don’t think I’ll ever again taste pecan, chocolate and bacon pie and love it.

Here are some pictures and talk soon.

This is a view of the pedestrian street in Boulder. On the right you could see the Deli where I had breakfast in the morning; and it beat the hell out of the over-priced breakfast at the hotel. Listening to the Beatles while eating breakfast was a bonus.

This picture was taken on the University of Colorado, Boulder campus. What is impressive though is the sky: I don’t believe I’ve see this colour sky before.

This is a picture of me a Michelle.

Of course, there will be something about money where I go. Did you notice that visiting the Money Museum is free? (My colleague went to the the Modern Art gallery but I skipped: me and paintings, even modern ones, don’t do well together.

This is what I had for dinner at a great restaurant called Bacon. Basically, it is a place for everything ‘bacon’: including the pudding.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend, my friends, and think of me on my 20 hours track back to the UK.