SOGS Dinner at Sweet Mandarin

This year SOGS dinner took place on the 31-1-2010 at Sweet Mandarin in the Northern Quarter of Manchester.

History of S.O.G.S = Salford Office Gambling Syndicate. It is not as serious as the word Gambling actually mean.

During a time in the Salford Quays office, I started to run regular sweepstakes amongst my colleagues. It was an important talking point, was not about the money, but about togetherness and a bit of fun.

The topic can vary, anything from New Born Baby Weights, IT’s respond time, Football and other sporting events etc

In fact the syndicate is dead now, we have not had a sweepstake for years. People had somehow stop bothering and also some people has left us too.

What remain is the Annual Dinner? Our normal office Christmas party is often Chinese Food. I always complain that the food at these Christmas dinner is poor wherever we go. So every year, I organise an alternative Christmas dinner in Chinatown with me ordering from the “Chinese Menu”. This year the dinner was delayed to January because of the takeover in that we end up having two Christmas parties. Another one would just be too much colleagues bonding!

I chose Sweet Mandarin (Twitter @sweetmandarin) because they won the Gordon Ramsey F word Best local Chinese Restaurant award. I was hoping to attract more people to come. But for several reasons that it turned out to be the opposite.

Nevertheless the spirit should be there, which is very very very important to me. There was people who don’t really know what SOGS is and the importance of this gathering. The atomsphere was not as high as I wanted to be. But let the food do the talking!

A pre-dinner drink at the Printworks, before we slowly progressed to our table at Sweet Mandarin. I have not been there before and with my trusted guide (Google Map), we have find the vibrant restaurant in Northern Quarters. When I walked in, Helen (one of three sisters who own the restaurant) greeted me (and already  knew I am Simon). Then I said hello to Lisa too. I have been talking to them via Twitter, was nice to met them.

The restaurant was buzzing, so busy on that Friday night. The restaurant is decorated to a very high standard, very warm and the atmosphere was excellent.

I did the food ordering of course. Every time I try a new restaurant, I always try their signature dishes, and this time no different.

1) Mabel’s Claypot Chicken
2) Lily Kwok’s Curry Chicken
3) Buddha Golden Basket

The food was good but it is not as authentic as the food I had trained my colleagues to eat all these years. It was tasty don’t get me wrong, and I would probably go back but it is different from the true authentic Chinese (Cantonese more specifically) food you can order from the “Chinese Menu”. But this really deserves another blog to discuss.

Next year I am banning any partners, sorry but they dampen the atmosphere. It was only Andrew who were keeping to the spirit of SOGS.

Anyway after more food and drinks, it was the big event of the evening. The “Sweepstake” on the bill. In this, each person would bet £1 on the final value of the bills. Just two simply rules.

1) If you are over you are out
2) Everything including VAT (ie the biggest number on the bill)

SAME RULES every time, is it because of luck that I always  win? Although I am the one who ordered and everyone else thinks I have insider knowledge, sorry but I don’t. The reason must be I am just pretty good at guessing!

The bill was above 200, roughly £25 per head. Everyone had gone for below £20 per head, I am the only one on £20 per head. So I win once again! £7 pound better off woo hoo. I was hoping if I didn’t Andrew would, because he made great effort all night.

I have to say it was not as fun as last year, or the year before, or the year before before, or the year bbb bbbb …….. etc…

We rumbled over for more drinks around Northern Quarters and slowly lost everyone.

I think next year’s dinner, chicken feet, roast pig’s head, ginger & spring onion tripe, Beef entrails, Pig tongue, Duck gizzard, all have to return to satisfy my not so “gweilo” colleagues…

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…


Debrand has forced me to Rebrand

I registered this domain as my silent protest about being gradually debrand at work.

It is inevitable after the acquisition.

As I am the last employee for March Consulting (2 acquisitions before the current one),  I feel very lucky to have spotted this domain became available.

I have not done anything spiteful, it is just a laugh…

But dare I say it will make a come back one day.

Simon (724)

March Consulting – Knowledge Innovations Solutions

Two Thousand and Nine and Ten

Happy New Year!

A quick recap on my 2009:

The first few months, I was in the process of buying my new place. The financial market was so low that mortgage was near impossible. I luckily got it (good rates too). My new place is city centre apartment in Manchester at a very good price. It was developed by Urban Splash. I got it £100,000 less. I felt like winning the lottery really. I can smell the profit when I do sell it…

Moving house is always a pain in the backside for me as I am a rubbish collector. I mean electrical/computer gadgets etc etc. I am also lucky that my new place is big enough to accommodate everything including all 6 of my computers. (Lomug, Lomug the 2nd, Superman, Littleson, Catbus, Sofastreet (the WHS) ). They are all named after my childhood toys, will need a whole blog post to explain.

Moved in at the end of Feb, after coming back from my annual trip to Hong Kong for the Chinese New Year. My parent came to stay with me for a total 5 months this year in two different stints. It was good that the whole family was all under one roof. My parent felt healthier with the cleaner English air compared to the dirty air in Hong Kong. The new place also suited my brother who was working in town. It would only take him a short walk to city centre.

Workwise, it was pretty much the same, always busy, dull at times, hectic, chaotic, a lot of reports and my special spreadsheets. I wonder someday if I would be near good enough to setup an excel consultancy… maybe not just yet.

And of course, I help my clients to save a lot of Carbon Emissions. Highlight is always winning more projects from existing clients. I like follow-on work because that is how I value my hard work.

On the personal front, there was a change of heart at these social networking things. I started to Tweet (on Twitter) and Facebook. Now I am obsessed with them…

The highlight must be me dancing with the bridesmaid at my friend’s wedding. I think Len (from Strictly Come Dancing) would score me a SEVEN. It looks good on video. I was dreading to see it really. I could have been an embarrassment for her, but no all my hard work of watching Strictly has paid off. Thank god the cameraman was good…

My brother decided that he would move back to Hong Kong for good. So he did in Oct with an internal transfer to his company’s HK office. But after the first week, he wanted to do a u-turn, only for the UK office to say they can’t take him back. Working is HK is not like UK, it is very tough, 8to8 mostly 6 days a week. A lot of pressure, back stabbing, office politics etc. My brother being the spoiled one in the family of course reacted to it negatively. It is highly likely that he will be back in the UK, probably after a year away. May be after all these years in UK, it is difficult to change. (me too! I think) Even my parent want him to come back to UK, they rather fly over and stay with us then see him work to dead.

Car wise, I finally got my new company car. It is an Audi A3 it took nearly 3 months but arrived in early December. That was my biggest Christmas present. I love driving it so far, it is just CLASS…

Finally, let look forward to the New Year.

My wish is that I use 2010 to fix all my problems. I definitely need to find a new spark in my work and personal life before running out of batteries.

As always I wish to help a lot of people. This is the reason I get up every morning, but only this year, I have to find someone to help me.

Keep educate people Apple is evil. iWhatever will be withdrawn worldwide.

And finally Arsenal to win the double…

My dream will be complete.


King Prawns Fried Rice

My Boss’s Boss is cooking Chinese for his family Christmas feast and here I am to help with my recipe of King Prawn Fried Rice. Enjoy.

Raw King Prawns appoximately 6 – 8 per person serving.
Rice (1 cup is enough for 1-2 person)
Chopped Spring Onion
Chopped Onions
Chopped Carrots
(You can add other vegetables, just need to be chopped.)
1 egg for each person serving

Soy Sauces
Chinese Five Spices
Ground White Pepper
Sesame Oil
Chopped Garlic
Thin Slice Ginger
Rice Wine

The rice should be boiled and cooked the day before!

1. Measure the amount of Rice
2. Wash and Rinse rice with cold water twice to remove starch
3. Into the saucepan, 1 Cup water for each cup of rice
4. Turn the heat to the maximum and bring the water to boil with the lid on
5. When the water is bubbling, turn the heat down to low, keep the lid on
6. Rice should be cooked in 30 – 45 mins (DON’T OPEN the lid, I suggest you use a saucepan with a glass lid)
7. Once the Rice is cooked, put boiled rice into a bowl cover with cling film, left to cool to room temperature before putting into the fridge

Next Day,

Prawns Preparation

If frozen prawns are used, defrost prawns a couple of hours beforehand, do not use microwave nor soak in water.

Slice the prawns down the middle of it’s back. You can then devein. Becareful not to slice the prawns too deep and into two pieces. Then marinate with

1. Soy Sauce
2. Chinese Five Spices (you can be generous)
3. Salt and White pepper
4. Dash of sesame oil
5. Rice Wine

Marinate for at least half hour before cooking.

Heat wok to high

1. Add oil
2. Add chopped garlic and slice ginger
3. Stir for a couple of minutes, until the favours are oozing out
4. Add prawns
5. Cook for a few minutes.

Vegetable Preparation

1. Power Boil the chopped vegetables for a few minutes to soften
2. Drain, pass through cold water and set aside

Egg Fried Rice

1. Take out the boiled rice from fridge and leave it to stand.
2. Beat eggs and add pinch of salt
3. Heat wok to high
4. Add oil
5. Add beaten eggs, keep stirring and break up egg into smaller pieces
6. Use a spoon and add rice to wok

7. Keep wok at high temperature, the key is you have to keep stirring and turning continuously.
8. Mix the rice and the egg. Also in the process break up the lumpy rice
9. Add dashes of soy sauce to darken rice
10. Add pinch of salt to season.
11. Keep stirring
12. Add vegetables
13. Stir
14. Add Prawns (don’t add the juicy liquid, just the prawns)
15. Stir
16. Add Spring Onions
17. Stir
18. TASTE and add more soy sauce to season if required
19. Add sesame oil
20. Stir
21. Turn off heat and serve with Chinese chili sauce

Done, Simon’s king prawns fried rice.

Call me if you need help!

Office Christmas Party (2 of 2)

Dodgy Swap > Dodgy Beef > Dodgy Drink > Dodgy Health > Dodgy Simon > Dodgy Night

I swapped dinner choice with my big boss. So I had Soup then Steak instead Soup then Turkey.

Anyway, not sure whether it was the drinks or the meal or the fact that I was full of cold.

Sorry to my colleagues, I was not a great company, dodgy Simon appeared.

I didn’t feel well at all, I became an immature lunatic.

So I dragged myself home very early (didn’t even finish my last drink)

I collapse to my bed for my recovery.

End of Story.

Office Christmas Party (1 of 2)

This is the first Office Christmas Party with our new colleagues from the parent company, the second one is this Friday just with ourselves and a few from the old company.

The Fashion Gear

Unfortunately I had a change of heart at the last minute, didn’t like the Boxfresh shirt I was going to wear. I was going to wear a Hamnett one, just remember I wore it before in one of my last 7 office Christmas dos. So I went with my not so posh River Island short sleeve stripe shirt. Even when I was picking the pair of shoes I was in two mind. I hear you shout: “Simon! You’re such a women!”

The Walk

I live in Castlefield andthe Hotel is in Piccadilly. I walk along the canal then on Portland Road. In all it took me about 20-25minutes. It wasn’t bad at all.

The Pre-Chat

There were two types of people from the new company.

  1. Young and here to have a good time
  2. Experience and here to let you know of their proud careers.

The Dinner

3 Courses Turkey christmass dinner cooked by a machine (I think) and served by a gang of daleks (I think).

The food was somewhat mass produced. The tomato soup was aweful, a canned soup would taste much better. The turkey was surprising well cooked and very eatable, the pudding was pretty standard stuff you can buy from the supermarket.

Now the waiters, the gang of daleks I refer them as eariler.

They dress in black and ten all come at once.
They all ask the same question – “Have you finished with that?”
They show both their hands, take the plates and run back to the kitchen all in one breath.
They come back out, stand in a line and starred at each other!

Please  self-destruct!

The Party

Normally our office support staff hit the dancefloor before anyone else, but this time they were overtaken by a man from the new company. He seemed to be enjoying himself very much !!! Not sure how many he had already.

The Dance-Off

Run DMC’s song came on and there was a dance off between the new company and ourselves. Dare I said we won 3-0.

1st Round – our breakdance seal won with no reply

2nd Round – our spinning-on-his-backside-man won with no reply

3nd Round – our afician-shoulder-electrical-wave-dance won with no reply

(PS I am currently practicing my MJ moonwalk every day! Might come handy in the next dance off!!!)

The After Party

Sorry this never existed, most of the bars were shut when we finished and some decided to go home then. So I walked home with the Manchester rain.


There was no surprises, no rumours, no gossips, nothing that happen shouldn’t have. Everyone was enjoying themselves, and time has travelled fast that night.

We are all looking forward to this Fridays, I am sure something more interesting and funny things will come up.

There is of course the pre and after drinks at my penthouse this Friday. I am not sure the after drinks will be feasbile, apprently the party don’t finish until 4am!

Let the force be with you!

Sack me for this blog

This post is dedicated to my good friend who just got fired because he writes a blog which has some very very small related stuff about work.

The real reason is that his company is cutting cost and have targeted him.

There is no doubt about it, this will get messy. The claim is very dodgy, his blog is much less revealing than mine.

When I saw his tweet, I said to him, I am so fired too. But come on, there wasn’t anything confidential whatsoever, it is the most tiny of evidence that the company has used. Shame on them!

Everyone is obviously supporting him and I should expect the full tribunal thing coming up. But still at the end of the day, the job is gone, may be just little bit more compensation.

So I thought will I get fired, might be I just need to check all my blog entries now to see if I have offended anyone.

But I know that I would have the decency to say it to their faces too.

At the same time, I should also read my contract, to see if writing a blog relating to work break any rules.

In the modern world of facebooking, blogging, tweeting. It is so easy. I think we have to sensible here, if there is commercial sensitive material leak then yes. But there are many grey areas.

Just to balance it,

I love what I do, I have no intention of giving up what I do. I love all my colleagues, they are all great. Everyone is a superconsultant.

If you still don’t know what I do and who I work for then google “the best environmental consultancy in the world”

I AM NOT JOKING, but the first result is really it… unbelievable!!!

This should do to show my true appreciation of my employer, so please don’t sack me…..

long may blogging be continue…


The IMPORTANCE of taking notes!

If you have perfect memory, you don’t need to take notes, because you can remember everything.

Unfortunately you are not a computer, so we take notes. Whether this is writing things down or typing something on your computer.

In my line of work, people pay alot of money for our time. The budget will allow say one day on site  for investigation. It is very very very very very very important to take notes. This is the only chance you have of auditing the site.

It is ok, if you have missed something or forgot to check this and that. It is not forgiving though if you have forgot to write down what you saw.

Even if you have near perfect memory (like me) you still take notes. This is because you need to free up storage for something else, so it is good to have information premanently stored on paper.

In school, I take notes.

A classic is during geography, the teacher plays a video and homework is to write an essay to summaries it. If you take down word by word, you have more material and ensuring you don’t MISS the key points.

In university, I take notes too.

The lecturer lectures, his or her slides might be rubbish. So you have to write down as much as information from what he/she is saying.

In work,  during site visits, meetings, everything, I take notes.

The more notes I have equal more information. Sometime there is no second chance, so you have to write down what you see. Just take notes of everything that is relevant.

If you don’t takes notes, or don’t know what write then you have a problem, you need to ask for help or see what your peers or colleagues do. Don’t be afraid to ask for other people’s notes, to learn what they write down.

Notes taking is also an art. If you are a novice, the first step is to write everything down!!!

As you improve, you will start writing less but capture the key information you’ll need.

Take notes and take care.


I cannot stress enough that there are many benefits of taking notes.

How “Old School” are they?

Definition of old school: “A group committed to traditional (old)  ideas or practices”

How old is traditional? How traditional is old?

The definition of “old school” would be different comparing someone in their 20s than someone in their 30s.

The term old school is relative. I think the “old school” barrier is at age 30. You can’t be called “old school” until you have passed that.

There are also different levels of “Old School”

Someone might say “very old school” but actually means “old old school” or even “old old old school”

“old school” is a phase that relate to whoever say it.

On the other hand, nobody say “new school”

“oh these new starters are all new school!” Doesn’t really sound right.

So if tradition (“number of old”) changes approximately every 10/20 years. It could even be “old old old old school”

So next time, you use the phase, make sure you count the number of “old” first.

BTW, I am “intermediate school” not yet “old school”…..