“Carbonated Soft Drink” takes me around the world

1 – Chocolate takes me around the world
2 – Beer takes me around the world
3 – Sludge takes me around Warrington

In this the fourth series of where work takes me around the world.

My latest work travel takes me to a carbonated soft drinks factory in Sofia, Bulgaria.

This is exciting because it is more than 9 months since my last trip oversea and the first one since I’ve re-joined the company. From a work point of view, I am exciting to get away from the stress of the work I have in the UK. I love to escape and work in a different country, experience new things.

From a photography point of view, I am even more exciting to bring my new camera the Sony A6000 there. I will be heading to the capital Sofia where there are lots of historical buildings and sites to photograph. And luckily I will have a couple of days of free time for bit of sightseeing too and maybe some model shoots!

The site has also promised free and unlimited supply of soft drinks while we are there!!!

Now that I am back in the UK. I was lucky enough to have arranged 3 photoshoots while in Sofia. They were awesome models and I am really happy with all three shoots, some cracking shots too. To see more of my photos, please visit my photographic website at simonphotography.co.uk

Some teasers here, they are all shot with natural light only!

Model: Marina


Model: Joanna

Model: Celene

and finally me visiting the Rila Monastery and decreasing their trout population (Monastery Trout is the local popular dish)


Where have you been?

I went away, been busy, got marry, thought I was happy, fed up with work, got lost, left job, found some temporary work, dream big, fallen down, then found new job, excited, still an energy consultant, not fed up yet, but still not happy, left wife, got divorce, happened very quick, I am and will be sorry forever, have messed up so need to rebuild, travel to two different continents for work, good to stop by Hong Kong to see my mum, lots of fun on these trips but hard work, drunk lots of beer too, now back on my own, in my box, gained some pounds, lost some hair, added new white ones and put on some years, still lost, trying to think my way out, the mind get tired, found my love with photography again, doing it more seriously, hoping more to come, more award winning shots, visit http://simonphotography.co.uk, joined a photography club M.A.P.S, wants to travel the world, visits friends, wanting to make more use of myself, help people so in return helps myself, can’t put a sentence together, so just leave a bunch of words here, who cares, plans for 2014, leave Manchester may be UK too, yes, I have to go away again, I am already long way from home, so where is home, I don’t know, but I will go wherever the opportunity, I will fight on, promise I will write more blogs to record where I have been, moving on to new things, will take alot of photos, dream of happiness,saving up for the travelling fund, will have to therefore win more poker games with ex-colleagues and dream more.

It is not where you have been, it is where you are going that is more important!

If this blog has affected you in anyway please contact the usual helplines or alternatively you can make a donation to the Help Simon (travelling) fund, lol!

I want “Hebckoe”, NO “Kronenbourg” and NO “Paulaner”

I had a bad time ordering the Russian beer “Hebckoe” (pronounced Nevskoe)  in the hotel in Russia.

The problem is they don’t want to serve it to me (Chinese) but happily serve it to my colleagues (English & Czech)

So I complained to the General Manager of the Hotel via email who is German I believed.

Our Emails are attached below. (I have disguise  the name of the hotel and chain but there is only one westernised hotel in Novgorod!)

From me to him

Hi Benjamin,

I recently stayed at the Veliky Novgorod Hotel for my business trip

I was very surprised at a number of occasion that the staff at the lobby bar has refused to serve me the Russian beer “Hebckoe” instead I was offered the other beer Kronenbourg.

I was made aware that they don’t have Hebckoe and Kronenbourg is the only one they have.

But I was more surprise when my two European colleagues who had no problem of ordering the Hebckoe beer from the lobby bar and sometime even at the table when I was present.

I feel very disappointed and somewhat discriminated against.

I wouldn’t have even mind if they charge me a higher price for the Hebckoe beer because we prefer the taste compared with Kronenbourg.

Overall I was happy with my stay but certainly leave me with a bad memory of this negative experience.

I hope you can respond and clarify this is not a common practice at your hotel.

Many Thanks


His respond – I am disappointed that I didn’t get a free room, but he joins in and try to sell me another German Beer! Did he get the message – I want Hebckoe!!!

Dear Simon,

First of all thank you very much for sharing your experiences with me.

Please accept my personal and deepest apologies for the behavior of my staff and be ensured that I take the situation very serious.

Be ensured that your experience is not the regular standard that the PI Veliky Novgorod nor any other PI Hotel usually delivers.

We are in process to convert and rebrand the Hotel into an international standard delivering property.

Not only the hard ware like rooms and public areas are going to be changed step by step. The focus is also to train, teach and educate the employees.

The philosophy of PI is to hire attitude and to train skills. The Yes, I can attitude must be an essential characteristic for all personal that wants to work with us.

Dear  Simon, we have had development dialogues with our employees and have identified those that are capable to be part of the PI team in the future and will stay with us after 20 years of local management.

The process has started and will continue.

Could you please let me know when you plan to visit the PI Veliky Novgorod in the future.

I would like to meet you personally and show you the improvements we have done so far.

As of Monday we are also serving original Paulaner beer. (Simon: Paulaner is German!!! I want Hebckoe!) It would be a great pleasure for me to invite you also into the beerstube and show you that we are hosts as we can be expected to be.

Best regards


My not very typical but fun packed week…

My account of a not very typical but fun packed week (couple of weeks back…)

Can I start from Saturday? oh go on then


I went to an Retirement Show with my girlfriend, we started the day with some Tai Chi. It was so fun, we both enjoyed it very much.

In the afternoon, she was assisting her sister in their cooking demonstration on stage. I was “the assistant to the assistant”, they gave me a sale target just like at work, to sell her book. I help sold 3!


I went to see Suede at The Ritz in Manchester. I was very excited. It was one of the best, brought me back to school days when I used to play their songs very loud in the boarding house. Some YouTube links here, a prize for who can spot a jumping Simon!


Animal Nitrate

Everything will flow

The Beautiful Ones

Brett was awesome! The very best of britpop and what a gig.

Hope they would come back and do it again.


Meet my girlfriend for dinner (Sushi – yummy…), went for a drink near my place, in the middle of the quiz night. yuk!


Nothing, it was just a boring day…


Took my school mate to  my girlfriends’ place to eat before heading off to the football game at Manchester City against Everton

Dinner was great, thank you my dear. We loved it!

The game was dull, referee was diabolical. Everton won 2-nil but the game was played like a nil-nil.

But I did see some retired ex-gunners Paddy Vieira  and Kolo Toure.  They look relax and enjoying their retirement. (They have past it unfortunately!)

Shame I didn’t see the handbags fight from both managers at the end, I was at the opposite end.

Still fun to go to a live game.


I was busy at work, but quite as productive though…

After work, I went to the office mixed five a side, started in goal again, but got beaten twice by a girl. She is streetwise, apparently.

The lowest point in my career? Well unfortunately not! I was in goal once for UMIST and lost 12-1 >_< It was the defence! not me…

Still it was fun, good exercise to keep my weight loss plan on track……


Busy at work again but it was dress down day so I came in with my Coca Cola Delivery Man shirt with Coca Cola badges and COKE written on the back. I love this shirt. Only recently that I could fit back in it.

For my round of drinks, I asked: “Tea, Coffee or COKE?”

Then I tag along to cricket nets with a colleague from work. It was so much fun, I love cricket, haven’t played for donkey years. It is slowly coming back to me, my leg breaks, top spinners and the ‘Chinamen’ (one that goes the other way…)

My bowling was dissapointing but batting was much more fun, even did a cheeky sweep (my trademark!). Oh I did get a caught and bowled.


My whole body was shattered. But got myself up though for a special haircut at Trevs, then met my girlfriend to find something to eat.


That was it, my not very typical but fun packed week…

Looking for my hairdresser

Just as when I need a haircut.

She has gone, left the saloon I normally go to.

Chantelle! where are you?

She has been my hairdresser for at least 6 years.

I like talking to her, feels very comfortable in the chair. (A childhood nightmare of mine, getting a haircut…)

Now I face with a dilemma, should I find out where she has gone or should I go to somewhere else.

I have been thinking about getting a funky hairstyle, my hair has been boring for a while.

Need a big haircut before I loose it all…

Been searching around the internet.

In Manchester, there are Vidal Sassoon, Wella, Nicky Clarke, Andrew Collinge, Trevor Sorbie. too many choices!

Thinking of the last one, £50 for a creative stylist (2nd level) though, £20 more than what I normally pay.

Hoping it would worth the money… might even post some picture on here later…


Never standing still and Never giving in

It is very difficult for me to explain my tendency to hide away from thing.

Deep down I am a very shy person and I tend to shy away from everything. Sometime I walk away and sometime I just hide.

I have been like to for most of my life.

At time, I do make impulsive decisions to counteract my shyness. But this takes alot of energy. Most of the time, I just think too much.

I do hate myself sometime for missing out, “Standing Still”. But you never able to time travel and re-live your life. The moment you are standing still is the moment you have just lost.

For me, I never wanted to be stood still. I search for improvement, upgrade the next level, whatever. This is essentially what we human does, right?

I have enough of standing still and I have made a promise to myself I will change from now on. Help me if you can!

The other side of me, is a grafter. I work and work, in fact never stop working to achieve what I want. However low or down I am, I pull myself together. I have never give in and will never give in. I can’t explain this either.

It is something in me that will never give up. Everyone needs something to recharge themselves. For me it is in the shower. There is something magical happens when I am in the shower. I think straight, I solve problems, I see the truth, I understand, I realise, I figure out.

It is funny that sometime to go forward you have to be standing still!

ps many of my blog entries have no real intentions or meaning, it is just a download of what I am thinking right now. I only hope to inspire or initiate your thought process.


Find and Replace (F&R)

When find and replace was first introduce to computing, it was a major breakthrough.

In school, we use to have so much fun to.

Using find and replace and changing SOMEONE ELSE work is a classic plank!

Some simple examples for you.

Find “I” and Replace with “I the Wanker” “I the Gay” “Miss (teachers name)”

Find “do” and Replace with “don’t”

Find “don’t” and Replace with “do”

same for is, are was, were etc, the report will read very well after all the F&R

MAKE SURE YOU SAVE IT, then close word down, so there will be NO UNDO!!!!!

Obviously, we would save a copy SOMEWHERE else for save keeping.

A plank should always have a good ending, it is just a bit of fun!

Try it!


Health and Safety or Hope and Stupdity

or is it, Hope and Stupidity

You hope you don’t get ill and You don’t think before you do something.

I work in an office on the first floor. There is two fire exit at both ends. They have to be opened if there are anyone in for obvious reasons.

The office being in high crime Salford Area meaning that we have a gate for them during out of hours, to prevent any breakins.

Usually the last person from the office shuts and lock the gate. When I mean LAST, I mean LAST office person. In the evening it is not usual to find the cleaner working between the LAST office person leaves and when the cleaner has actually finish.

Should the fire exit be opened for the cleaners? Yes for health and safety. If there is a fire, the cleaner could be boxed in and BURN TO DEATH! We don’t want that to happen! So lately we asked the cleaner to shut and lock the gate for their own Health and Safety.

This is not a difficult task but it is an EASILY forgettable one. The consequence of NOT doing this can lead to them losing their job. So the fact is,  this is an easily forgettable task, they are now thinking HOPE and STUPIDITY, shutting and locking the gate FIRST. So that they don’t forget.

I hope that they know that they are choosing “BURN TO DEATH”. God forbids!

What should I do, well next time I see them shutting the gate first, I will have to fill in a Near Miss form. (or a Stupidity Prevention Form)

One question for you.


You might have kept your job but how will you turn up, after you have BURN TO DEATH!


Technology Techies

We live in a world where Technology is ever improving. I am surpise that those people making decisions about Technology and certain the change of technology know nothing about technology.

In today world, are we too worried about people needing to know, people needing to understanding. Things need to be kept simple for everyday Joe Blog.

You know what. I have enough off lowering my level to make someone understand. Precious time is loss in this process. I vote for techies to rule the world! There is certainly a lack of technology knowledge amongst management.

Technology should drive change. People making descision should understand the technology. People who does not understand have NO rights.