So, I've been back from my extended sojourn in Scotland for about 3 weeks, and I have a whole pile of leave to dispose of before the end of March. It's all complicated by the fact that the leave I take while on secondment can't be carried back to my regular job, and there was a chunk of leave which I didn't take before I went on secondment at the start of 2007. And the weird 15 month year which is 2007/2008 - there's a lengthy explanation... you don't need to hear about it. No, really, you don't.
Anyway, it leaves me about about 10 days of leave to take in, what, 5 weeks. Hmm... it's like Christmas all over again. Also known as the "schoey's frantic leave disposal challenge".
I have been promising myself (this is a new tactic for 2008, trying to generate a self-perpetuating guilt trip on myself as a motivational exercise) that I would do something different than sitting home working on something work-related for a good chunk of my holiday. People have begun to notice these workaholic tendencies, and I've been warned.
It's Saturday. The motivational levels are high after a decent lie-in. And it's time to focus, and get booking this holiday. Have a bit of a think when I want to travel, and we're set.
All good so far. Have the itinerary, have booked the seats I want, have put in my credit card details, and have a booking confirmation.
Two minutes later, I have an e-mail from the airline complaining that my credit card has been declined and the booking cancelled.
Ten minutes later, my mobile phone is ringing. 0800 number. Don't recognise it, so refuse to answer the call. They leave a message - it's HSBC's fraud protection unit ringing me up from somewhere outside the UK asking me to call them urgently, blah, blah, blah, quote reference, open 24hrs, 0845, blah.
Finding the whole thing slightly weird, I call them back. I'm told that they think their sophisticated monitoring of my card activity suggest that my details have got into the hands of fraudsters, so have stopped it. He then relays through my last week of transactions. Strangely enough they're all mine. Tesco. Yep. Asda. Yep. Runcorn railway station. Yep. Petrol station. Yep. Yeah mate, I only ever shop in supermarkets, buy petrol and train tickets. So booking a holiday probably is a surprise to your system!
Maybe their monitoring system is aware of my workaholic inclination?
Call centre droid thinks this is good news, as they've managed to stop my card before any fraudulent activity has taken place. I think this is less than good news, as they've prevented me booking my holiday, and I've got to wait between 5-7 working days before a new one arrives.
By which time, the flights will have doubled in price. The hotels hijacked by a million American tourists. And if I'm really lucky a complete disaster/crisis at work preventing me from escaping Birmingham for a week.
As for where I was going? Well, that would be telling wouldn't it. And no... it wasn't a week in Wolverhampton.