Friday, 31 July 2020

Back to the Gym

Today, I finally went back to the gym to attend a Zumba class, for the first time in four months. It was exciting to go back and do an actual class along with other people.  The sports centre seemed to be taking the situation very seriously. We had to queue outside the door until the time of our class, at which point the teacher led us all inside (two metres apart).

En route, we swiped our membership cards at the barrier and continued into the high ceilinged sports hall, where 2m squared boxes were taped across the floor, so we each had a box to exercise in. There was the usual hand sanitiser available to use on entry and we didn't need to touch anything the whole way through.

The class was good, and it was so nice to finally be back at Zumba after such a long absence, probably the longest I've not gone to exercise classes in 10 years or more. It felt a little strange and some of the music and moves were unfamiliar and new to me, but I enjoyed it all the same.

At the end of the class, we were all led out of a fire exit and found ourselves back outside, so we didn't even need to pass back through the sports centre, which was good. There were only 11 of us who attended, plus the teacher, although the hall accommodated 35. I'm not so sure I'd enjoy it so much in a full class, but I could cope with this number and it was nice to have a chat with the odd familiar face before heading home.

I didn't enjoy the actual car journey over to the gym, however. As it was a really hot day today and people were out in droves, both in cars and on foot, so it was very busy. I was very happy to get home and just chill for the rest of the day out of the heat of the sun and away from the crowds.

I may try a different class next week as I heard that a friend of mine is attending a class on a Wednesday, so I may book that one and give it a try. That is assuming we still have the freedom to do so, as nothing can be taken for granted at the moment.

Thursday, 30 July 2020

Change is in the Air

There seems to be some changes in the air since we emerged from lockdown.

At work, my job share fellow Deputy Manager resigned during lockdown and didn't return to the shop, as he is selling his house and moving out of London shortly. It's an exciting new phase in his life, so I'm happy for him, in spite of the fact that it was a bit of a surprise, to say the least. Interviews for his replacement will be some time in August, the outcome of which will be interesting.

At home, change is on the horizon too, our next door neighbours, who we've lived next door to since we moved here 12 or 13 years ago, are also moving on to pastures new in London, mainly to accommodate more home working I believe. It will probably affect our daughter the most, as she has grown up next door to and gone to school with one of their daughters and although they have different friendship groups, they've always got on well.

It's given me slightly itchy feet, but I'm trying to resist them.

Yesterday, there were lots of comings and goings next door with potential buyers viewing the property. It will be interesting to see further down the line who our new neighbours will be.

Are any changes happening around you at the moment?

Sunday, 26 July 2020

Catch Up

I'm off work for two days again, as another working week has come to an end. Work is going OK. We've increased our acceptance of donations to two days per week now the Shop Manager has returned and we are now open for 5 days per week. Consequently, the amount we are taking has increased a little, but it is still a third overall of what we took before lockdown, whilst many of the small outlying shops are doing better than before lockdown. It feels a little demoralising, we have so much good stock, but very few shoppers compared to before Covid-19. I guess it's the turn of other shops to be successful, we just have to dig in and keep doing all we can. I'm sure things will slowly improve as more people go back to work.

I'm still cycling to work and am working on alternate days at the moment, so that I get a rest day in between. I am finding it easier the more I get used to it, especially with the new bike. I took delivery of a padded seat cover and water bottle that I'd ordered from Decathalon this week, so I'm gradually getting better equipped for the journey. Any little thing that makes it easier is so worth it. I still need to buy another couple of pairs of cheap (£5.99) cycling shorts from Decathalon, so I've got a clean pair for each day I ride to work, but they're out of my size at the moment.

Face mask wearing in shops came into operation on Friday and is another thing that we have to try to be mindful of. Most people are very responsible and do wear them.  Some don't and have to be reminded to put them on. In our shop, staff are expected to wear them to make the customers feel safe. I have to admit that I enjoy getting on my bike at the end of the day and not wearing one whilst I ride home.  Being able to breathe in fresh air feels very liberating. If I catch the bus, that's another two hours of the day that I have to spend wearing one. OH doesn't know how I manage to do it, as he hates wearing them, even for short amounts of time, but does where necessary.

I'm finding that I have a little more energy on my days off these days.  I think this is partly because cycling is actually quite energising and also I am working shorter days which helps. I can't say that I'm doing anything particularly energetic on my days off though, but I am finding myself able to keep on top of chores a bit more. My gym has re-opened this weekend, but the classes on offer did not really appeal, so I will just have to wait until they extend the timetable.  It may be a few weeks yet before I return.

Work on the house is plodding on at a very slow pace, mainly because OH is busy with work again now and is cycling much more. Progress is being made though, which is something.

I bought some new cushion covers for the living room from the charity shop the other week.  I like them as they are very colourful. I want to buy a new armchair and have seen a few I like, but haven't really got the money at the moment. We're also looking for a new TV stand/unit, so I've been looking around for something suitable lately too.

OH bought LB a new chest of drawers from IKEA this week, as her old set wasn't big enough and she put them together herself. I helped a tiny bit by screwing a few screws in, something I've never done before, but we were proud of her for being so independent.  Her old set of drawers, I put out on the street and a neighbour took them within minutes which was good.

I am currently reading this new to me book that I also bought from work, called Re-engineering Retail by Doug Stephens. It is a really interesting and timely read. It is about the transformative changes going on in retail at the moment.  It was written pre-Covid, (which has only served to exacerbate further changes and a move towards more online shopping) and puts forward some very interesting ideas of where retail is heading in the future.

This morning, I did some more work on my mosaic bird bath project. Progress is very slow, as I have to be in the right mood to work on it, but a bit of progress was made today. The top of the dish is now ready to grout. Here's a picture:

I don't have any plans for the next two days.  It is near the end of the month and I am trying not to spend money I don't currently have, so it will be a case of pottering at home and doing a bit of cleaning, ironing, etc.  Besides, the weather is very changeable this weekend. It has just started raining heavily as I write this, which although good for the garden and refilling the water butts, is not so good for OH, who is currently out cycling in it.

I hope that you're enjoying your weekend whatever you are doing.

Tuesday, 21 July 2020

New Post Series - Recent Ebay Purchases

During Lockdown, I've posted a couple of times about how I tended to buy the things that I needed on eBay. I am still continuing to use eBay quite a lot now I'm back at work, as I'm not too bothered about heading out to the shops these days.  As a consequence, I thought I would start a new series of blog posts about some of the kind of items that I buy on eBay.

The items I buy vary widely in their use.  Some might be clothing or accessories, others might be for our home, especially as we're decorating at the moment. I also often buy random things for the garden or vintage items that take my fancy.

On Monday, for example, the postman delivered three items that I'd recently ordered.  None of them were very expensive. First, was this collection of black buttons.  The ones in the photograph are the ones from the order that I liked the best, as they are all vintage buttons.  As I'm often switching out buttons on vintage clothing items I buy, these are very useful to add to my collection for future use. I paid £4 for these, including postage, and there were others in the parcel that were more modern that I have not pictured here.

The second item that arrived this morning, was this lovely gold coloured picture frame. I paid about £6 for this, but it's very pretty. I'm changing over most of the picture frames in our living room, from silver coloured ones to gilt or gold coloured, to fit in with other items in the room. This was one that I found and liked and that wasn't too expensive. I want a mixture of different styles to give a more eclectic look. I was very happy with this one when it arrived and it now contains a photo of LB that fitted the frame perfectly.

The last parcel that arrived today, contained this pair of ceramic keyhole escutcheons, that I bought to add to the doors in both of our living rooms.  We have some already in place, but they are broken and need replacing. I may order one more set of these, as I am still one short. I just bought a set of two to make sure they fitted and they do.  These cost £4.99 including postage and come with the screws to fix them in place.

Finally, I've added one other item to this post, that I bought on eBay a couple of weeks ago, just because I love it.  It is this lovely handmade corsage.  It is so pretty. I bought it to wear to Swing Dancing events, when they eventually resume, as it has a lovely vintage feel about it. I can't wait to wear it, but I fear that it might be quite a long time until I get the chance. This was a little more expensive at about £11, but I think it is worth it and as you can see from the photograph, the packaging was beautifully done.

Monday, 20 July 2020

A Trip to Columbia Road Flower Market

On Sunday, for some reason, I woke up feeling a bit low. Not sure why, I guess the rollercoaster of lockdown still affects you even when you are back at work.  That's what I put it down to anyway.

As a consequence, OH and I decided to do something different. He is normally cycling on a Sunday morning, but this particular weekend he'd cycled on Saturday instead, so it was unusual for us to be able to go out and do something together and we decided to visit Columbia Road Flower Market in East London.

Twenty years ago, we lived quite close to the market and went there a lot, but in recent years we've hardly ever visited it, as it gets very crowded.  We sometimes go when visitors come to stay, but otherwise seldom bother.  However, I had read recently, that it had re-opened post Covid, with a new one way system to facilitate social distancing and was quieter due to the few tourists currently in London, which helped to convince me to give it a try.

It was quite busy by the time we got there at 10.30am, but it was nice to have a walk around. There were only stalls on one side of the street, which made it easier to navigate the market and most people stuck to the one way system.  Social distancing wasn't great as people did gather around some of the stalls, but it was okay. There was a great selection of indoor and outdoor plants, plus flowers and herbs, etc.

I managed to buy a couple more fern plants for the end of the garden. These were much less expensive than the ones I'd bought at the garden centre the other week (£7 less each!), as I got two for £10. These are the ones I bought:

OH also treated me to a ceramic pot for my solar water fountain.  We chose this turquoise fish scale design pot, which we both thought was very pretty. I still need some large pebbles to put in the bottom, but it is relaxing to watch it from the kitchen table.

Anyway, here's a few pictures from the market:

I might visit again before things get really busy, as the prices of the plants sold there are very reasonable.

We finished our morning by getting a bagel from the best bagel shop in East London on Brick Lane. A real trip down memory lane that really helped to lift my mood.

Friday, 17 July 2020

Post-Lockdown Vintage Haul

Today, I remembered that I hadn't yet posted about the vintage clothing I purchased on my first post-Lockdown visit to Mile End Vintage three or four weeks ago. They were having a 'Fill a Bag Sale' for their first week of opening, where you can fill a small bag for £10 or a larger bag for £20. I, of course, filled a small bag, as did LB, who accompanied me on my vintage shopping adventure.

I wanted to wash and iron the clothes before I did a post and that has now been done, so here goes with what I bought.

My first stop was the scarf bin, where I picked out a few scarves. A black and cream polka dot square scarf, a khaki polka dot scarf that I can use to put in my hair and a neon pink polka dot infinity scarf to wear when riding my bike, as it's really bright, but it's been too warm to wear it recently.

The clothing I bought included 4 blouses, one dress and a summer play suit. I also put a sweater for LB in my bag too. I couldn't try anything on, as the changing rooms were not in use, so some things ended up being a little small, but I might hang on to them for a while, just in case.

My favourite purchase was this blue and white seersucker playsuit. I'm pretty sure it must be from the 1950's or earlier. It is just so cute. It fits me around the bottom half, which was surprising and is quite flattering, but the shirt part is a little small. I can wear it unbuttoned though, with a vest underneath and a belt, which looks okay. It is in perfect condition, save for two small white paint marks on one side which aren't that noticable. I really like it. It was such a find for less than £2.

My second favourite item was this very pretty lightweight blouse with a kind of french style print on it. It is so light and perfect for wearing in the summer, plus it fits quite well and is a flattering style.

My next favourite item was a navy sleeveless button through dress. It fits well, possibly a little tight, but when I first tried it on, it had a sewn in lining that made the skirt pucker up. I decided to remove this, which took a little while to unpick, but once I had done it, it fitted a lot better. This too will be good to wear on hot summer days.

I also bought a couple of pussy bow blouses, one in a mustard colour and another in a cream and black polka dot print. Both are a bit on the small side, but could be worn under a sweater in the autumn, hence why I am keeping them for now. They are in perfect condition though.

Finally, I bought a khaki cotton blouse, which also was a little small, but I will keep it for a while, just in case of a miracle, such as possibly losing a bit of weight by cycling to work. You never know.

A good little haul, but just a pity about not being able to try things on. I'd love to go again in a couple of weeks, but I'm not sure if I will, as I have very little room in my wardrobe to buy anything else. I do like the thrill of not knowing what I might find though, as I always seem to come home with a few treasures.

A Free Friday

I had a free Friday again this week, it was lovely to just stay home after three intense days at work.  I cycled to work the first two days and took the bus on the third day, as I felt myself getting progressively more tired and as a consequence the time it took me to ride there got progressively longer.

I didn't have any plans for today, other than to have a rest, but when I got up this morning and went into the bathroom to get showered, I just had to clean it, as it was in a real mess. It was the one room that I didn't get around to cleaning before returning to work, as I ran out of time. I felt a lot better when it was done.

I was able to have a leisurely walk with the dog today for a change, no time limits, which was a lot more relaxed than on work days, when I always have to get  back by a certain time to set off for work. It was a pretty hot day, so it was good that we could take it easy and stay in the shade where possible.

The only things I had to do today were to collect a prescription from the chemist, do the washing up which had accumulated over the previous couple of days and do some washing, so that I had clean bike shorts to wear to ride to work in tomorrow.

I managed all of the above and also had time to play with my new little gadget that I ordered on eBay after seeing it featured in a video on Gardner's World last week.  Here it is:

A solar powered water fountain.

I've wanted a water feature in the garden for a while now, but didn't want the hassle of pipes and electricity supply.  When I saw this, I thought how perfect, so immediately looked for one online. It cost about £10, which although not super cheap, was reasonable.

It comes with 4 different nozzles to get different height and powered sprays and is purported to last for 10,000 hours. I had to give it a go and was pleasantly surprised at how good it is. It will only work in full sun, so if you put it in any shade it won't work, but that's fine by me as we have a south facing garden and get plenty of sun for most of the day. It probably won't be used in this trifle bowl, but that was all I could find to try it out in.

I also received a little freebie in the post today too. This doggie protein strip, sent to me by Tesco, along with a couple of vouchers for other products from the brand.  These will get used on my next supermarket trip, as I've bought products from this brand before.

Tonight, was Pizza night, so I didn't have to cook, OH always takes care of the pizzas. I just needed to iron a few things for work tomorrow, which I did whilst watching Gardener's World, of course.

There's been a definite feminist flavour to TV watching this week. OH and I have been enjoying Mrs America on iPlayer. It's a great series based around the fight to facilitate/prevent getting the Equal Rights Amendment through Congress in the US in the 1970s. Each episode adopts the viewpoint of one of the different characters in the battle.  It is really fascinating and covers a period of history that I had very little knowledge of.

In a similar vein, I recorded a couple of great programmes from the TV this week, the first was entitled Germaine Bloody Greer and was all about the career of the infamous writer of The Female Eunuch. She's probably a bit like marmite, as in you probably love or hate her, but it was a really interesting programme and I admire her for being a female voice of dissent, who highlighted the chauvinism women faced in the 1970's. 

The second programme was all about Virago, the feminist publishing house started in the 1960s or 70s. I've been a big fan of their Virago Modern Classics books for years and have a shelf full of them.  I find them to be some of the hardest books to give away, as I have really enjoyed reading them, so I tend to just keep them and add to the collection. The programme was really interesting and highlighted the company's success from very humble origins. It also cast light on the infighting that occurred at different times in the history of the company, mainly at times when the company had to be sold to survive. I love what they did for Women's literature, which included bringing many novels written by women back into print for later generations to enjoy and it is great that they are still going strong today.

(In case you didn't know, part of my degree at University was in Gender Studies, so the above programmes were right up my street. I wish there were more programmes on TV like these.)

Anyway, I'm back at work tomorrow, cycling in again.  Our Shop Manager should be returning from furlough, so it will be interesting to see what he thinks of what we've done in the shop.  Takings at work are still very low compared to pre-Covid, but at least we managed to open the shop a few more days this week, so we should have raised more money than last week. It seems that the shops outside Central London are faring much better, so it may take a good while for us to get anywhere near how well we were doing before lockdown, if we ever do. For the moment, all we can do is our best.

Monday, 13 July 2020

Making It Count

After being so productive during Lockdown, it's having a knock on effect now I'm back at work. I can't just kick back and chill, I find myself getting on and doing things instead, which is progress I guess.

On Sunday, my first of two days off, I began the day by finishing my current read which is called 'The Rational Optimist' by Matt Ridley.  It's a really good book and points out that despite general pessimism about the future, the future is probably going to be much better than we think, if the past is anything to go by.  It was refreshing to read anyway.

After a long walk with the dog, I did quite a few small jobs that needed doing.  Firstly, I went out into the garden and planted out the plants I bought at the garden centre a few weeks ago.  I've put them down the bottom of the garden, where OH is going to build a hammock stand and put up a hammock for LB. I think it looks better with a few plants around the paved area, it looks much less stark.  I might buy a few more when I've got some spare cash, but here's what it looked like after I'd finished:

They are still quite small plants, but I'm hoping that they will grow and fill out the space eventually.

I also cut back some of the growth of the climber that comes over from next door, as it starts to strangle everything if I let it get out of hand. I then proceeded to sweep up the decking and clean out the greenhouse, just to keep things looking tidy. It was nice to get out in the garden again especially after so much rainy weather and so many days spent at work in the last two weeks.

A couple of interesting things have happened in the garden in recent weeks. Firstly, this cactus flowered for the very first time:

I guess it must be happy to have flowered at all.

In addition, my orange dahlia has come back to life after being mauled by snails and slugs and is now flowering. I put it on top of a stool to protect it from said maulers and it seems to have done the trick.  Here's a picture of it's first flower of the year:

Later, I made some fruits that I'd harvested a week or so ago into some more jam.  It was mostly gooseberries from the allotment and a few blackcurrants from the garden.  It made another jar and a half, which is all good.

I got my finances in order too, which I haven't done for a good few weeks. I gathered together all my receipts and checked them off my bank balance, closed a couple of bank accounts that I don't use any more and sorted out my expenses for work, as I've had to buy a number of things to help us re-open the shop.

I helped OH to move around some furniture in the front living room in the afternoon, so that he could sand and varnish the second half of the floor. I'm hoping we can move back into the room in the next couple of weeks, as it is a bit more spacious than the room we're currently using and a change is always good.

Today, it was food shopping time again. The last two weeks have flown past now I'm back at work and it was time to venture out and top up supplies again. I prefer to go in the afternoons now, as in the mornings the store tends to be busy with staff collating online orders. It's never the less good to get the shopping done and know that there's food in the house for the next couple of weeks. I suppose that eventually, I should go back to weekly shops, but when I'm not at the gym on Mondays, fortnightly seems to work better. I popped into H&M whilst I was out and bought a few new basic t-shirts and vests for wearing during the hot weather.

When I got home it was a case of unpacking all of the shopping and then the rest of tonight was mostly about getting ready to go back to work tomorrow. I hope you guys had a lovely weekend.

Sunday, 12 July 2020

A Bit of Mosaic Making

The bird was made using a mug I bought from Poundland, but which was cracked and leaked.  The print was pretty though, so I kept it as I like the blue and white.

I completed the background to the bird with an old Poole pottery plate I had that was cracked. I'm liking the effect so far, but it will look much better once grouted. This is as far as I managed to get during lockdown and it may be a while before I get to continue with this project, but I'll post again when it has been completed. 

More Days Off

It's Sunday morning and I've got another couple of days off work. Yesterday at work was quieter than the first day we opened, but it's to be expected for the moment. At least we are open and taking donations and cash. Until tourists and the people working in the offices return, I can't see it changing much. Hence why Boris's call for people to return to work. I think people have got used to not spending money whilst at home, and I perfectly understand that. It will probably take a while for them to get back into the habit of it, if they ever do. I rode my new bike to work on Saturday, and as I'd hoped, it was a much easier ride and shaved almost 10 minutes off the commute, making it about 45 minutes now. This is much quicker than the bus and is door to door, whereas the walk to the bus stop adds another 20 to 30 minutes to the 40 to 50 minute bus journey time. I had a little accident on the way home yesterday, as my pannier bag shot off the back of my bike and spun around in the road. Luckily, the road was not busy at the time, there was no-one behind me and it didn't hit me or the bike, or it could have been very nasty. Cycling to work is indeed a learning curve. In my pannier bag were four drinking glasses and two glass jars that I'd just bought from the shop. Unbelievably, and probably thanks to the fact that one of our volunteers had carefully wrapped them in paper, there wasn't even a crack on any of them. The only damage was sustained to LB's water bottle, which I had borrowed and was in the outside net pocket, and the pocket itself which bore the brunt. I'll be cable tying it to my bike rack in future, as I just can't risk that happening again. It may make it a squeeze to put it in the cupboard at work, but I'll work it out. I've now got two days off before I'm back at work. I'm going to take it easy and just chill. There's a big pile of ironing that I need to do, as most of my work clothes are in it, but other than that and getting to grips with my finances, I have nothing planned, which feels good. I will be glad when our Shop Manager returns to work at the end of next week though, as I'll go back to working just three days per week instead of the four I'm doing at the moment. I may do the odd extra day per week, as I'm still working down the hours I was paid by the charity during lockdown, but not every week, as it's very tiring cycling to and from work and four days is a bit too much, at least until I build up some stamina and fitness for it. I'm looking forward to possibly doing a bit of pottering around the garden these next two days and I may make a visit to my favourite vintage shop again or at least post about the last visit I made and what I bought as everything has now been washed and ironed. I hope that you are having a relaxing weekend now the sunshine is back.

Friday, 10 July 2020

Open Again

Once again I'm on a day off after three days at work. Another busy and intense week, but at least this week we finally managed to open the shop to the public again. Firstly, we had a 'donations only' day, so that people could bring in their donations and we could facilitate proper social distancing. This happened on Wednesday, and it went pretty well. We filled two whole cages with donations by the end of the day, which will now be quarantined for 48 hours before we sort them. By using the cages, we didn't have to handle the bags at all, as donors could just place them in the cage, which minimises risks for staff and volunteers alike. On Thursday, we finally opened to the public for them to shop. There was a bit of a flurry when people realised we were open again and then it was quiet on and off, with a few more flurries through the day. The takings were better than I thought they were going to be, but nothing like pre-Covid. A positive start though. Some shops have fared even better than before Covid, which is amazing. Not us though, as we were missing the tourists, the students and the people working in the offices in and around Central London, where the shop is located, who are our main customers. It will be interesting to see how it goes when we open again on Saturday. I've managed to get the stockroom under control this week, which is good. It's all been tidied and vacuumed and the cages have virtually been emptied of pre-Covid donations. I always feel better when I get on top of it. Things might change very quickly in the coming weeks, but for now it is managable. Today, I've spent 4 hours driving to pick up a new to me bike, that I bought on eBay on Monday. It's the same model as my previous bike, that got stolen last year, only it's the ladies as opposed to the men's version. It fitted in the back of the car once I'd put the seats down, so was easy to collect. It's lovely. I've been for a little ride on it already and it feels so much lighter than the bike I've been using for the past couple of weeks. I'm looking forward to riding it to work tomorrow, if the weather is good. This week, I took the bus twice, as the weather was very changeable. The experiences I had on the bus were very changeable too. Some journeys, usually going into work, I ended up being practically the only person on the upper or lower floor of the bus. It was like having a personal chauffer to work. The journeys home were much worse though and one night was particularly bad, when a group of young boys, about 8 of them all sat around me at the back of the bus and none were wearing masks. One even sat next to me so it was difficult to get out. Not a great experience, hence why I'm so happy to have the new bike. OH just needs to do a few adjustments to it for me and it's ready to go.

Monday, 6 July 2020

A Few Days Off

Firstly, apologies for lack of paragraphs in recent posts. I'm having all sorts of trouble with formating on blogger. Aside from that, I've had a lovely relaxing few days off, just what I needed after the intense first few days of going back to work. I managed to meet up with my colleague who has now left the shop on Saturday afternoon. He came over to give me his shop keys, so that I could give them to the new temporary Shop Manager. We went for a walk with our dogs and had a good chat. I don't really blame him for leaving, as he couldn't get day care or dog walkers for his dog if he'd come back and had no-one to look after it, plus he's sold his house and is moving out of London in a couple of months, so he'd be leaving soon anyway. Anyway, meeting him ticked one item off the work to do list, which was good. On Saturday night, we had a take out tea for the first time in ages. Suited me as I couldn't be bothered to cook. Not especially healthy though. I spent most of Saturday just recovering from work, doing a bit of laundry and catching up with blog reading/watching YouTube. On Sunday morning, OH and I took the dog out together and went on to try to buy a new bike for me to ride to work on, as mine is so heavy and clunky. What a pallaver. The queues at Decathalon and Halfords were too long on Sunday and when we went back today (Monday lunchtime), Decathalon had no (well, two unsuitable) bikes for sale in the shop and non available on the website. I hadn't quite grasped how difficult it is to buy a bike at the moment, until this point. Halfords had a queue, which although not that long, was just not moving, and they didn't have any bikes to sell in store, just to try for size, so we gave up. All I bought was another pair of padded cycling shorts for £5.99. When we got home, we had a look online and the same situation was apparent on most websites selling bikes. In the end, I went on good old eBay and bought a used bike just like my old one (that I loved and that got stolen last year), but a women's, as opposed to men's version, for £120. (More than I paid for mine new) At least I know what I'm getting and it was Buy It Now, so I can go and collect it on Friday or OH can go on Saturday. It's quite a trek out to Berkshire, but it is doable and it's necessary, if I'm going to continue to cycle to work, or I will completely exhaust myself on my current bike. I think I can just about manage another week on it. Today, I also had to pop to the local shops for some groceries and a few bits for work tomorrow. I was a bit horrified by a woman coughing all over the place in one shop, claiming it was the dust. I wasn't convinced, so just kept well away. I don't think she was even wearing a mask. When I'd taken the dog for a walk this morning, I passed the local charity shop where I'd dropped off some items last Sunday. The Shop Manager was outside having a smoke so I had a chat to here. They had opened the following day on Monday last and she said that she'd spent the whole week trying to ask people to comply with the new precautions and had encountered a lot of very arrogant people who were just not interested in doing so. That's probably my fate this week when we finally open. I have, however, today read a couple of very nice and supportive emails from some of our shop donors, in response to my emailing them about opening hours this week. That was a bit more encouraging. I'll let you know how it pans out. The new Shop Manager won't be working on Wednesday this week, as he's got to prepare his own shop to re-open and it currently has a bees nest in it! Luckily, we're just opening to take donations that day.

Saturday, 4 July 2020

First Week Back at Work

It's been a hectic few days. After heading back to work on Wednesday, for three consecutive days, I've now got three days off and boy, do I need them. It's been very intense, but in a good way, we got a lot done, with just 3 or 4 of us. Two paid members of staff and two experienced volunteers. There's still a lot to do, but we are just about ready to re-open. I cycled in for the first two days. It was tough, as my body just wasnt't used to it. The first day I was 5 minutes late, as I set off late and then took a wrong turn and the second day I was 15 minutes late, due to torrential rain. I got soaked through, both going to work and going home. It was a tough commute that day. I also got lost again because the rain fogged up my glasses and I missed a turning. Cycling to work is definitely a big learning curve. OH has now added an app to my phone which predicts the chances of rain from one hour to the next. It will be a game changer. On Friday, I decided I would take the bus, but I really didn't like being on a bus at all. I feel like I've got more control when I'm on my bike. I don't have to wear a mask, I am in the fresh air and I get the exercise to boot, so I'm going to persevere with it and hope my stamina, fitness and ability to stick to the route improves. I might catch the bus the odd day. The shop itself, wasn't too bad when we got inside. There were a couple of small issues we had to report, but nothing that would stop us re-opening. Day one was mostly about paperwork, following re-opening procedures, making assessments, taking out some of the old stock, a bit of cleaning and just generally getting our bearings again and figuring out how we were going to lay out the shop for re-opening. Day Two was more physical, as the brunt of it involved cleaning and moving things around. What with the rain and the commute I felt a little defeated, but got through it.I was so pleased to get home that night and slept like a baby. Day Three was more cleaning, more paperwork, some stock sorting and a bit of organisation in the stockroom, plus some work on the financial side of things. By the end of the day, I think we had broken the back of it and there are now just a few last minute details to attend to and tweaks on the shop floor, we need to clean the shop windows outside and work on the signage, then finally replenish the stock in the shop. We will be opening the shop on Thursday and Saturday to customers and Wednesday for donations only next week, so we should be ready. I was very lucky to work with a great Manager from another shop and two really good volunteers. I couldn't have done it without them. We were all exhausted when we left on Friday night. It will be interesting to see how busy we will be once we do re-open. I'll keep you posted.