Why I no longer wear posh stuff to work

Oh the joys of being a rural freelance marketing diva.

This morning I drove through the Lake District, past Blencathra and Bassenthwaite Lake on route to the harbour town of Whitehaven. The sun was shining, and the rich autumn colours were just stunning. I'm lucky to be involved in the marketing of the new museum and heritage centre at the old Haig Pit.  Before we started our meeting, I was decked out in a hi-vis jacket, hard hat and steel toe-capped wellies for my tour of the site. It was dusty and grubby - and thankfully I had the foresight to dress appropriately for the situation.

From breakfast meetings at Simpsons in the Strand to rescuing cows from bouncy castles.

I've been in Cumbria for over a decade now. I said farewell to corporate London life, breakfast meetings at Simpsons in the Strand and designer handbags. My working life is full of bizarre surprises. Sartorial challenges of the past decade include:

  • Being covered head to toe in steel dust following a visit to a company who blast steel structures for the nuclear industry.
  • Several incidents involving sheep, narrow country lanes and 'Crypton Factor' defying gates. You can't cope with things like this in high heels.
  • Rescuing a cow who was standing on a bouncy castle and couldn't work out how to get off.
  • Horse snot all up the sleeve of what was my Nicole Fahri suede jacket.
  • Giving a lift to a goat and a bail of hay in my leather seated, 3 Series BMW (which I no longer drive - I have something much more suitable for goats and rural living).
  • Climbing a high step ladder in the Mayor's parlour of Kendal Town Hall to help a photographer from the Westmorland Gazette with his lighting.
  • Various incidents of scrambling around on floors on my hands and knees sorting out cables, and computer spaghetti.
  • Hand picking lint and fluff from a giant roll of carpet in preparation for a photoshoot for a carpet manufacturer who didn't own a hoover (really).
  • Helping a client push their sinking car out of a mud bath of a field, in the pissing rain, at the Westmorland Agricultural Show.
  • Lying on the kitchen floor of a newly built house during a video shoot, trying demonstrate the soft closures on the kitchen drawers.
  • Standing in a Carlisle carpark where a potential client demonstrated his fire retardant protective fabric spray. He sprayed it on a towel, and then got a blow torch out to prove his point. Alas, the towel went up in flames, and we had to stamp it out in a nearby puddle (and no, I didn't accept the job).
  • I've visited the workshop of a nuclear physicist who's premises look like a cross between scrapheap challenge and robot wars - and spent the two hour meeting standing up because there were no chairs.
  • Dealing with 'company dogs' - there's an extraordinary number of firms in Cumbria who take their dogs to work. I've had several 'nice jumpers' wrecked by dog claws pulling the fibres.

The new rules for dressing for the job are:

  • Everything has to be machine washable.
  • Wellies and rain gear in the back of the car at all times.
  • All outfits have to fit under hi-vis clothing.
  • Wear layers because some places are so cold they'd freeze the flame on a lighter, and other times I have to put on protective overalls or walk around hot factory units.
  • I need to make sure I can climb over things, scramble under things, and cope with cow pats at a moments notice.
  • Sensible shoes - no heels.

So that's all for today. If you're considering a move from an urban to a rural situation, give me a call, and I'll talk you through your sartorial checklist.

PS. (By the way, if you ever need a jaw-droppingly diferent place to hold an event, from January 2015, the available spaces available at the Haig pit for events, seminars parties and even weddings, are amazing).

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