They say that travel broadens the mind and until now I have had to agree – catching up on the newspapers on the daily commute to and from the Sunday Telegraph was a fine way to do it. However, since leaving the paper and setting up the CashQuestions.com website with PR doyenne Angela Madden, travel has taken on a new meaning.
I am now no stranger to red-eye flights to Edinburgh and the waiting rooms of Northern railway stations. Note to John Goodfellow, the agreeable chief executive of Skipton Building Society – you really are a lucky chap being able to run a £7.3bn business and still see sheep from your office window but did you know that this poor lady had to take six trains on the round trip to visit you?
As a financial journalist, you can get pretty depressed about how confused members of the public are about finance so the three CashQuestions.com partners decided to step in and help. The site lets members of the public ask questions about their finances and get an answer in real time from a qualified expert.
We cannot give “advice”as such because of FSA regulations but we can give factual information, point people to helplines or put them in touch with an IFA, many of whom seem to attract new clients through us.
On Monday, it is travel as usual to make a presentation at the Manchester Business School. CashQuestions.com is being showcased at an evening for local business-people after the site was taken under the wing of the business school, with the backing of Royal Bank of Scotland, NM Rothschild and lawyers Addleshaw Goddard.
I travel back South on Tuesday morning on a pre-dawn train. By Tuesday afternoon, I am finally getting down to some writing for The Independent. Thank you, Bill Kay, for your patience. I would do more work on the train if my rubbish laptop battery lasted more than 15 minutes.
Wednesday evening sees me in St James's at a party given by the very clubbable chaps at Quill Communications – what a lovely bunch of folk.
It is a good chance to catch up with pals such as Tom McPhail and Kerry Nelson and industry luminaries such as Ray Boulger.
Thursday mornings, I spend two hours each week doing IT at my local college. When you are just bashing out copy in Word to email to a distant editor, you do not realise how little you know about what your computer can do.
Anyway, I am proud to say I have passed my European computer driving licence and I have graduated on to Dreamweaver which should stand me in good stead for the CashQuestions.com site.
Once I have logged out from the college and checked in with CashQuestions.com webmaster Ed Dias, it is back on the train for me on a dash into town for lunch with two old Telegraph chums who now work for the Mail on Sunday.
I am ashamed to say that it is one of those lunches that almost run into dinner. It is that sort of event that focuses the mind on the joys and sorrows of being a freelance. Pro – you have no office to rush back to and no boss to whinge about your timekeeping (sigh). Con – no expense account (sob) The thing I like about Friday is looking forward to the weekend. This is a new experience after spending more than 20 years on Sunday papers, when Friday and Saturday are the bloodiest days of the week.
Spend some time sorting out flights to Edinburgh for the spectacle that is sure to take place at the Standard Life AGM. I cannot wait to hear what the policyholders have to say about those directors' bonuses.
Standard has brought the meeting date forward two weeks from its usual slot towards the end of April and now its bang in the middle of my holiday.
It seems, because of the awkward timings, that my excursion will be a four-leg, three-day round trip out of Newquay.
Travel may broaden the mind but sadly there seems to be no way of doing it quickly Annie Shaw is a freelance journalist and editor of CashQuestions.com