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Work Experience UK Story: Part 4 – One week to Christmas

Friday, December 24, 2010 by

Work Experience UK - restaurant kitchen

Our kitchen

[Pavlina is participating in the paid Work Experience UK Level 1 program]

December 16th, 2010

It’s one week to Christmas and today, after several days of rather autumn or spring weather, it has been snowing. Recently the temperature has been about 5 centigrade and it really hasn’t looked like it’s actually winter. However the days are very short so one doesn’t enjoy much daylight which is quite frustrating especially because last few days I was getting up after 6 am. There were a few guests staying over so I had to be ready to prepare breakfastsfor them. Now I really appreciate the work of all cooks and chefs who are able to serve more than four meals at once! It is so difficult to concentrate on so many things at the same time and you have to multitask all the time. You have to be careful not to burn anything, you have to be incredibly quick, it must look nice, it must taste nice, you have to keep it warm… before I had no idea how difficult all of that is!

Anyway the kitchen appears to me less scary than at first, but I still struggle with turning on the stoves and burners. And sometimes I just can’t find everything I need among so many supplies in the fridges. Concerning the breakfast itself, people usually want a toast first and some coffee and tea. Then I usually cook scrambled eggs and bacon or the full English breakfast for these who ask for it. Well the full English breakfast includes fried mushrooms and tomato, the sunny-side eggs, bacon, sausages and baked beans. Good load, isn’t it? Obviously nobody bothers oneself with high cholesterol here :-)

As I implied earlier in my daily schedule cooking breakfast is usually followed by cleaning the kitchen counters after myself and clearing off the tables after breakfast. After that I hoover and mop the whole restaurant and then continue to clean the rooms upstairs. There are actually just four rooms for guests and it is not a lot of work.

As regards the waitressing it is mostly the same as in the Czech Republic. It is just harder because it is usually noisy around and sometimes, although I try hard, I just can’t sometimes understand what people say to me. It is partially also because I am not used to the British accent yet.

Doing various activities during the day is quite refreshing. However, I do not interact with people and speak as much as I would wish to. Even when working in the restaurant one usually uses the same phrases again and again. There are not many people of my age around me and no other foreign students which doesn’t really provide many opportunities to just chat normally.

December 17th, 2010

I finally called to apply for my National Insurance Number. The lady who talked to me was very professional; she was comprehensible and was speaking slowly. She asked me some essential information, what is my name, where I work etc. Then I was offered a date of appointment and told that I was going to receive a confirmation letter with additional information and the address of the office. I was also told that I need to bring my passport with me and any other IDs proving who I am. They also expect me to prove my employment and also that I have somewhere to stay, such as by an employment and rental contract. My appointment was set to the 23rd of December and I am supposed to receive a confirmation letter about the appointment which, I am worried, is not going to come on time because as I was told the post service doesn’t work very well before Christmas.

December 19th, 2010

Yesterday, out of blue, it started to snow and it did all day. Now all country is covered in white and it is wonderful! The local people told me that there wasn’t white Christmas for about 10 years!

I haven’t mentioned yet that I usually take my employer’s dogs for a walk after work. They are two Yorkshire terriers. When I walked them to a park today there were a lot of people most of them, children as well as adults, carrying sleds and all kinds of equipment for tobogganing. It was a lovely view! However the snow also causes a lot of trouble in England because people are obviously not used to it and traffic collapses because of it.

Anyway, it is few days to Christmas and the restaurant is booked with Christmas dinners and parties every day. The festive menu is composed of traditional English Christmas meal most of which I have had a chance to try :-) The most typical are probably the turkey, as deserts the Christmas pudding, treacle tart and mince pies. There are also crackers at every table. Crackers aren’t actually some biscuits although it sounds like that :-) They look like big bonbons and when you pull the ends opposite sides it makes a crack sound and there is usually some surprise, such as small present inside.

Work Experience UK - the restaurant where the author works

The restaurant

Work Experience UK - the bar where the author works

The bar

Work Experience UK - the bar where Pavlina works

The bar again

December 22th, 2010

Today it has been snowing very heavily all day and the traffic collapsed again. The restaurant had to be closed for today because even the Chef didn’t get here. Moreover I had to cancel my appointment for the national insurance number since it wasn’t sure if I could get there tomorrow because of the weather conditions. So today I just cleaned the restaurant in the morning and walked the dog. The snow around is really wonderful and Christmassy but it causes also many troubles especially for people who commute to work or run some business.

[Pavlina is participating in the paid Work Experience UK Level 1 program]

Questions? Ask below :-) In English, please.

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