Step by step

I have been very lax in posting on here since Christmas. In the main part this is due to the new venture I have joined Owl in. He has not worked for coming up to 3 years now and all our reserves have slipped away for one reason or another. I was getting stressed about how we were going to manage without enough money. Whilst looking for work Owl came across an opportunity which he thought might be right up his street. To be honest it is right up many streets, and back again. Many times.

So, back in November Owl took the first steps to joining this new business venture where you can be in business for yourself but not alone. I was to be brutally truthful very very sceptical about the whole thing. The basics of this opportunity are that you deliver catalogues to households in your neighbourhood then a day later go back and collect them. The idea being that the householders will look at these catalogues, decide that they need some of the items shown even though they didn’t previously know that they needed these things. They place an order with you which you send off and when the goods arrive you take them to your new customers and collect their money. You get to keep a percentage of these payments as your profit.

Owl had just got to grips with the concept of this when he was encouraged to start selling online as well. Now this is not something that Owl was keen on himself but I could see the potential and this is when I had my ‘I get it’ moment. So I joined the business along side my husband. He would walk around the streets with his catalogues and I would sit at home (when I wasn’t at work) and sell online through facebook groups. This seemed to be quite easy and I got hooked. I would sit for hours making ads and posting them online, Sometimes I found it difficult to keep track of the number of people interested in what I was selling.

After Christmas we all had the good news that a new catalogue with branded items had been launched. Selling went through the roof for some. More local distributors began selling online and I found it harder to sell locally online. I needed to cast my net further afield. I was a little worried about this at first as it means getting people to pay up front for their purchases, but it is actually very easy. We have had a steady increase in customers through our catalogue drops, we can see the potential in this venture. We have made some really great new friends and see the things they have acheived. We want to be where they are, I have no doubts that it will happen for us.

I had been getting ever more frustrated that Owl, although he gets what he needs to do is just taking so long to do anything that rather than moaning that he wasn’t getting his catalogues out/or picking them up, I began going out there (it’s much better now the weather has improved). Sometimes I manage to get Owl to come with me delivering or picking up. Other times he is too busy doing whatever he is doing so I go alone.

Now I am by no means fit, my walking isn’t what you would call fast. However I am getting out in the fresh air, I am picking up orders, my stamina is gradually building up. Life is looking not exactly bright but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Unfortunately all the time I am preparing catalogues or out delivering etc it has meant I have less time for selling online.

I am trying to view my online selling as an added bonus to the catalogue selling. One other thing that has come about in the last few days. For several years I had been using my mobile phone as a pedometer and used this daily, each day trying to beat my number of steps from the previous day. I had stopped doing this early last year, as I was finding that more and more often my steps were not recording and also my battery was constantly running down.

Anyway I digress, as often happens. Last week whilst out with the catalogues, I realised that I really ought to be keeping a log of how much walking I am doing. Last weekend on my birthday I reinstalled the App that I had previously installed on my phone. Having mentioned this to a colleague who is trying to lose weight I helped her to install a pedometer App onto her phone (not the same one, as she has a different make of phone) shortly after another colleague asked me to help her set he phone up too. Now both these ladies have dogs so they have regular dog walks to keep their steps going. I don’t have a dog but I do have catalogues. Now I am making every step count.

Yesterday my lovely Statto and the gorgeous Miss Effervecence were visiting, I took them for a walk in our local park before going out to pick up catalogues. This meant that I smashed my average steps of around 7 or 8 thousand and managed a whopping (for me 12000).

Now I am home from work and Owl has gone out delivering catalogues on his own as I wasn’t quite ready to go out. So instead of going out increasing my physical steps I am making steps to increase my online selling.


A Christmas visitor

Christmas morning began quietly. Owl had not got to bed until 5am (wrapping my presents apparently). Pug was still asleep and both Statto and Skater were at my mother’s due to arrive about 11am. I had a couple hours of peace to enjoy a cup of tea and catch up on my Christmas messages before everyone else appeared. Owl joined me for a while before going back to bed. He was still asleep when the rest of the family arrived.

Skater made bacon sandwiches for everyone, Statto wrote out his cooking plan for the dinner. This allowed a 20 minute window for present opening. I am sure this actually took nearer to an hour. I had some lovely gifts from various family members plus a few from friends. I was forbidden to take any photos of Statto and Skater working together to cook our Christmas dinner. The one downside to having my grown up sons cooking our meal is the debris that is left behind when they have cooked. But hey that is a small price to pay. The kitchen didn’t just look like a bomb site but a very steamed up bomb site. I opened up the sliding doors that lead to the garden.

The six of us sat down to a delicious meal, all the traditional components, except that Statto had added his own twists to the vegetables. Crackers were pulled, hats donned, a variety of topics discussed. We were just about to start clearing the table when I looked towards the kitchen door. To my astonishment I saw that we had an uninvited visitor in our kitchen.

IMG_2220 my lads piled into the kitchen to try to help him find his way out. This led to a flight into the extra room (after 2.5 years we still haven’t quite decided what to do with this room).IMG_2221Then it was back into the kitchen.IMG_2222It was then agreed that rather than keep chasing him around we would leave him to find his own way out which he did do eventually after hopping around the top of the kitchen cupboards.

Excitement over, the big clear up could begin. Dishwasher loaded, we could then sit down to a game of Pointless, which was one of my gifts from Owl. The game was nearing its last round when Prodigal and Model arrived, having spent the earlier part of the day with Model’s family. Team Mum and Pug were triumphant in the game with mum being the only contestant to get two yes that’s right two pointless  answers during the game. I wasn’t really smug about that, honest, well not much.

The evening was spent chatting, what I really liked was the fluidity of the evening, With the various family members moving around the room to chat, some of us at the table and some in the seating area with the tv on. Every few moments at least one person would move to a different place to chat to someone else.  I love the way that my four sons have grown up to be such good friends. They all enjoy each other’s company. The three eldest all work at the same place too (Statto full time employed, whilst Prodigal and Pug are both part time self employed to fit around their other activities ie Pug’s Uni and Prodigal’s band).

I enjoyed chatting to Model, I am sure this is the longest chat we have ever had even though she and Prodigal have been together for nearly 11 years. I have always liked her but we just don’t get the opportunity to spend much time together. Hopefully this will improve, I am looking forward to visiting them in their London flat at some time in the not too distant future. By the time they departed to take my dear mother home it was rather chilly out side and a frost had already begun.

So that is another Christmas day ended and another year of blogging completed. I can’t believe it was two years ago that I began this blog. There have been a lot of ups and downs during these two years many record here but others not. I wonder what the next year will hold in store for me and my family and friends.

Did you all enjoy your Christmas day and did any of you have anything unexpected happen?


During the week we had our Christmas get together for the writer’s group that I belong to. Whilst there, one of the other members was telling a new member that I am very self-effacing, unnecessarily so. I was quite surprised by this, but I shouldn’t have been. I do tend to keep quiet during our meetings, not offering many comments on the work of others. Timid about reading out my own work. Partly this is due to being eternally shy.

Today I was having a chat online with someone about life in an abusive relationship. She commented that these relationships knock your confidence and it can take years to get that back.

My first marriage was not violent in any way, shape or form. Yet the emotional abuse that I lived with for so many years took away all my confidence. Years of public put downs and insults take their toll. Being told frequently if not daily that I am.

“Fat, stupid, ugly with a brain like a sieve, nobody else would ever have you.”

Did nothing for my confidence other than to batter it down time and time again.

When I began divorce proceedings he began repeating the popular children’s nursery rhyme.

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

Well actually, when said often enough words may not just hurt but they can cause lasting damage.

After my marriage ended I went off the rails a bit, a friend of mine told me I was running around like a headless chicken. I began blogging and dating. I can see now that both were confidence tools. I needed to know that I was desirable, and worthy of friendship. I gained enormous validation through my blog and the friends I made there. Through my dating experiences I learnt that not only am I good enough for the men I was dating, but some of them were not good enough for me.

Gradually I learnt to like myself as a person. My confidence began to build. I started a new job, I have been there for seven and a half years now. They tell me that I have grown so much since I first started there. (I know they don’t mean in weight, although that increased over the years I have been there).

One thing I have tried to keep through out everything has been my sense of humour. For a long time after my divorce I would make jokes about myself. I would get told off for putting myself down, but that wasn’t what I was doing. I was showing that I don’t take myself seriously, that I can laugh at myself not just others. Maybe though there was a touch of laughing at myself before others get the chance.

All my life I have been shy, introverted. I do have my moments of bravery. On occasions when I feel confident that I know what I am talking about, then I can come out of my shell.

As for being self-effacing, I believe that is just a matter of confidence. I say very little at our writing group because I am so in awe of the talent I am surrounded by. Maybe in time some of the knowledge and skill will rub off on me too.

The key

It should be so simple. Why do I always fall into the trap of thinking that things will be simple? I am 52 years of age for heavens sake, I should have learnt by now. Nothing is ever simple.

A few weeks ago whilst shopping I stopped at the key cutter’s kiosk. I wanted to get a spare key for our car, we have only ever had just the one key. I was told that because we drive a Chevrolet they were unable to cut a new key, they do not hold blanks for this make of car. They might be able to order one in but it could take a while. Owl searched online and placed an order for two spare key blanks. He had a little trouble placing his order, so we now have four blanks.

Today I took two of these blanks back to the kiosk and asked them to cut the two keys for us. I placed the two blanks on the counter, only to be told.

“We can only cut keys from our own blanks.”

“But you don’t keep blanks for my car.”

“Ah yes Chevrolet, I remember you came in before. Sorry even if you got these blanks from Chevrolet we cannot cut them. We can only cut blanks that we stock.”

“So what am I supposed to do then? If you don’t stock the blanks and you can’t use another blank?”

” You could try an independent key cutter, they might do it for you. Unfortunately we can’t because it’s our Company policy. In the past it has been done and then the key has got stuck in the ignition leading to a claim for hundreds of pounds.”

Oh why had I not known it would be down to this litigious society that we are forced to live in these days.

Thinking about things not being as simple as they should be I had already had a feeling of let down having visited one of the main high street banks. I am sure that I have mentioned before that I am now the new treasurer for our writing group. I have been attempting to get the signatures on the Group’s bank account changed. It took a while to get the relevant forms downloaded and printed. Next the three of us who would be the new signatories had to take our forms into a branch of the bank to get our signatures authorised. I took mine in weeks ago. I was then told that I had to collect these forms from the others and bring them in together. This week I finally had all the forms, took them to the bank this morning only to be told that I now need to get another form signed by two of the existing signatories. Only then can the forms be sent off to the correct department, wherever that may be. I can’t even get a statement of our account until everything has been sorted which could still take a few weeks yet. At least I have been able to pay some money in.

Whilst shopping I picked up a screw thread candle bulb for one of our light fittings on the stairway. Obviously I picked the wrong one. Yes it was a screw thread and yes it was a candle bulb, but the screw thread was the wrong size. I guess that tomorrow I shall be out getting another light bulb as well as finding an independent key cutter.

What did you do today that wasn’t as simple as you had expected?



Hankeen Gabriel reply to Gumtree ad

About six weeks ago I wrote this post about the scams we had come across during our efforts to sell our car. The good news is that we have sold our car.

However I have noticed over the weeks that my post about the scams has been getting more traffic than more recent posts. Today I have had two separate comments from people who have been contacted by Hankeen Gabriel following ads being placed on gumtree.

I am sad that these people are being bothered by this person but I am glad that my post which mentioned his contact with us has helped others to avoid him. I don’t know how his scam works but I am sure it is just that.

I wonder how many people have been caught out by this person in the last couple of months since we had our message from them.

I am thinking now that perhaps we should all report them to Gumtree and perhaps the police before they can con someone innocent who doesn’t realise there is anything odd.

I have now emailed gumtree and had an automated response saying they will look into it and get back to me within 6 hours.

I will keep you posted.


Here is the reply I received last night.

Thank you for your email reporting this to us – we take reports of this nature and the safety of our users very seriously and use information such as this to help improve the site experience for everyone.

The information you have shared with us does, in our experience, show patterns commonly associated with fraudulent activity.  For these reasons, I strongly advise you not to pursue contact with this person. We will use the information you have provided to further investigate this user’s activity on Gumtree.

I am very sorry that you had to come across this. We try our best to prevent these situations from happening and have a dedicated team of Customer Service agents on hand 24/7, 365 days a year who are available to assist with reports of this nature.  You may wish to re-visit our Safety tips and read up on what we’re working on at the moment at the following link:

If you have any other information that you feel would be useful to stop this individual or others acting in a similar way, please let me know; you can reply to this email or use the “Report this Ad” function which can be found at the top of every Ad.

I thank you very much for taking the time to report this to us so that we can take action to protect others. If you have any further concerns about any personal information you have shared with this user, please do get back in touch at this email address.

Kind regards,

Gumtree Community Team

Valerie has got a secret

Earlier this week I was at our local writing circle, it was ‘Manuscript night.’ I am not in the middle of writing a novel, I have not written any short stories lately. What should I take with me? I could cheat and take along the folder that my mother had recently lent me. It contains stories that her mother had written.

My Grannie was my idol when I was growing up. I hadn’t read much of her work before she died way back in 1983 at the young age of 67. Before she died I had dabbled in writing short stories for children. After her demise I found it very difficult to continue writing. That is until about 8 years ago.  A month or so ago my mother handed me his folder containing some of her writing, much of it had won writing competitions in the WI, some had been included in women’s magazines over the years. I had brought the folder home anxious to delve in and read the gems within. Somehow I just have not been able to find the quiet time to devote to this. I don’t want to be rushed or interrupted while I handle the delicate sheets of paper, mostly typed but some handwritten.

I could take the file with me but firstly it wouldn’t be my work, secondly until I have looked through the pieces properly how can I choose which to read. Instead I picked up my hard backed A4 notebook that I had used during my creative writing classes with June Hampson 7 years ago. I can’t believe it has been so long since those classes. Among the worksheets and advice sheets were a couple of my old stories. I selected  ‘The New Receptionist’s secret.’ I hadn’t looked at it for years, this would do.

So having listened with interest to some of the other short stories that were read out, taken on board some of the comments it was now my turn. I must admit that although nervous and I could feel the heat in my face and my eyes did begin to water from time to time, I did find it easier now than I had done previously at the classes.

The comments I received were positive, although it was suggested that I should perhaps try writing it in the first person and maybe set it as a retro piece.

Today I have edited my story slightly, I might develop Valerie’s story further just to see where she takes me.

I wanted you to be the first people to meet Valerie. Tell me what you think I should do with this, even if it is just put it back in a box and forget it.



It’s nearly 5.30pm and I know it won’t be long before I’m released for the evening. Bringing myself back to the here and now, Julie is explaining how to turn off the switchboard at the end of the day, yes this Company is still operating in the past. Tomorrow I will be on my own. I had started this new job as receptionist at the Surveyor’s office a day early so that Julie could show me the ropes. Julie was leaving to have a baby. As we were putting on our coats we wished each other ‘good luck’ I’m not sure which of us will need it most.

I had done this kind of work before, but not in an office this size. Usually I preferred to work in a busy office where I wouldn’t have time to think. It’s good to have enough work to keep my mind active and my hands busy. You learn more when you are in a busy environment and I liked to treat each day as an opportunity to learn. But this time I know that I am not likely be busy in this office. There would not be many visitors and phone calls through the switchboard would be minimal. I knew a little about the Company before I got here. There are two senior surveyors, Conrad Jasper and Marcus Bentley, between them they own the majority of shares in the Company. Then there are the other surveyors, Davies, Wheeler, Thompson, Taylor and Cartwright. There are others but as yet I haven’t worked out what they all do. Oh well I will soon learn who they all are. One person I had come across very early in the day was Cora Baker. Cora was PA to both Marcus and Conrad, she was very protective of her two bosses and you crossed her at your peril. Julie had told me Cora has been here all her working life.
I had taken this job partly because I need the money to bring up sons Jamie and Tom, but it would also give me time to keep up with my studying during the quiet periods throughout the day. I have recently begun a proof reading course in the hope of increasing my income. There is another reason for taking this job in this particular office, but this is my secret.
Earlier in the day I had been in the post room sorting through the day’s outgoing post ready for collection. I had heard two male voices the other side of the screen separating the post room from the open plan office behind it. I couldn’t help but smile to myself as I heard these two, as yet unidentified voices in hushed whispers. The younger voice was telling the other that he thought  

‘The new receptionist is hot. Those legs! Surely, they must be in stockings, not tights under that tight pinstripe skirt and those heels made her legs appear to go on forever.’

The other man, he had a much older voice told his friend.

‘You’re wrong, women in their forties don’t wear stockings to work. Anyway’

He told his younger colleague.

‘You don’t know much about women, it isn’t the legs you look at, you need to check out her breasts and if I’m not mistaken the new receptionist is all woman. Curvy in all the right places and those boobies straining against the buttons of her white blouse have just got to be fabbie dabbie.’

I cringed inside, I can’t abide words/phrases like ‘boobies’ and ‘fabbie dabbie’, they make me think of adolescent public school boys. Which I am sure Marcus was, still is in a way.

I am brought back from my wondering thoughts when I hear the younger man ask.
‘Marcus, whatever is the matter with Cora today? Did you see the looks she gave the new receptionist, Val, Valerie or whatever her name is, when she came in with the coffee this morning? That’s not like her.’

‘Oh you know Cora, how she feels she has to protect me and Conrad. She’s worried I will run off with the new gal, thinks my eye was on her too much, not like Conrad he hardly noticed her at all. Funny that, she is about his age. I guess he is settled at home, although I was worried about him a few months ago.’

‘Why were you worried about Conrad?’
‘Oh, you know when he sent all the staff a text wishing everyone a happy new year? He had got himself in to a right muddle, sent some of us the wrong message, including Cora. Upset her I can tell you. It would appear that our Conrad is not exactly all he seems to be. He had been having a steamy affair an accidentally sent us a text that should have gone to his mystery woman. Cora vowed to get to the bottom of it.’

I can’t help smiling to myself as I slide the crisp white envelopes into the sack ready for the post man to collect.

That’s day one in the new job over, this could be interesting I tell myself as I climb behind the wheel of my aging black Ford Focus and start the engine. In ten minutes I will be through the door of our new flat. I should just about have time for a shower and put on my favourite new sexy, pale pink lingerie before he arrives.

Standing in front of the mirror I can’t help grinning to myself, I had known as soon as I heard the voice this morning that it had been Cora who had called anonymously last week with her veiled threats.

Well Cora will not get intimidate me. After all Conrad is not Cora’s husband but he is my lover.

On other news I have seen Robin a few times today but not close up, I have been busy pretending to be domestic.

We also have yet another person interested in our car, we now have to wait until after work tomorrow to see if he actually turns up to have a look at it. aka fraud

Late last spring Owl bought our beautiful Vauxhall (Holden) Monaro.monaro 1 I had never driven a car with a V8 engine before so I was quite apprehensive. However as soon as I started to drive her I fell in love with her. I love the smooth lines of her shape. I adore the comfort of her immaculate soft black leather upholstery (even when the backs of my legs stick to the leather). The way she holds the road even on bends, is a delight to this woman who had always thought yada yada whenever petrol heads talk about cars in this way.

It wasn’t long before I was claiming her as my daily drive to work car. The comfort, the sound, the feel, she is just the perfect drive. A little heavy on the juice but you can’t have everything.

Fast forward to this spring, our circumstances have changed, Owl was on the way to getting his licence back after losing it last autumn for drinking two pints then driving. We realised that we are never going to be able to afford the insurance for him to drive this car again. We decided to sell her, although we will both be sorry to lose her.

First we had to get her through her MOT, which was not too much of a problem, apart from replacing the tyre that had blistered following my encounter with a pothole. We did need to replace one other part, which led to an extensive search to find the right part. My car might be badged as a Vauxhall but it needed a genuine Holden part. This was located and collected by one of my colleagues who lives in the same city as the garage where the part was.

MOT passed, the next thing was to get a minor scratch repaired, an unknown hooligan in charge of another car had at some point (car parked it). It did take a while to find someone who was willing to undergo this work. By this time another month had passed. I took some photos of our beloved vehicle, composed a couple of ads to go on different websites.

The first website we used was gumtree, a number of people had advocated this site as the best place to advertise. Within a day or so I had a message from a prospective buyer. I replied, but when I received their next message it became clear from what they said that this was not genuine.


Hankeen Gabriel (
I really appreciate your response to my text message, i am presently working on the sea as a marine engineer  which enable me not make a call that is the reason  i try to send a text message to you via the sms web.i am satisfied with  your ad as it was listed on the site  and am ready to buy for my Dad,i will not be able to come take a look due to my work. I will have the shipper to come pick it up from you and delivered to my dad after i have made the payment to your account.i will make the payment to you via paypal and i hope you have a paypal account  so that you can be able to received the payment, If you are not a paypal user you can set up a paypal  with your bank account you will just go on and attached your bank account  to your email using paypal so that you can be able to get the money on your bank account .After the payment has been cleared and you have your cash in hand i will have my shipper to  come shake hand with you and pick it up to deliver to my Dad.I will be waiting to have the necessary details to make the payment to you.
Your paypal email..
Price Amount…
You Phone number..
Hope to have a reply back from you
Did you notice that not once did he mention what car I was selling, indeed he didn’t even mention that it was a car.
A few days later we had another enquiry.

Re: car

Nice Hearing back from you..I’m quite satisfied with the condition and price..I want you to get back to me with your PayPal email so i can start with the Payment now….mind you, you won’t release your ad until PayPal credit your account before you will release it so it can be pick and my shipping company will be coming for  pick up so you don’t need to worry about pick up okay. I will need your home address for it to be Picked Up by the Shipping Company.
Both these enquiries appear to have been written with the English that you get when translated directly from another language. Needless to say we didn’t respond to either of these.
By this time we also had our ad on Autotrader. (over the three weeks our ad was live we had over 4000 views). This was surprising when considering the rarity of our car in UK. We did have a few enquiries, one man even came to see the car but his 6’10” frame made things a little difficult for him to get comfortable.
Our good friend (L0rd) came round to take some better photos and make suggestions on selling our car. He buys and sells second hand cars frequently. I replaced some of my photos with his and adapted some of the wording. A new ad went on a more specialist website (Pistonheads).
We had another enquiry from a local man but unfortunately he was about to go abroad with work.
Just 2 days after our ad with Autotrader had lapsed I received a call from them pleading with me to renew our ad, this time with the premium package for 6 weeks. I managed to get them to reduce the price slightly before agreeing to go ahead.
This weekend I had an email through Auto trader from a local man interested in our car. Several emails later we agreed to drive over to his house on Sunday morning so he could see what we had. We decided that it would be a good opportunity to have one last drive out in her before we sell her. Anyway, after a discussion about the cars he and Owl have owned over the years, we left, with him saying he would let us know. Even though I got the impression during our short test drive (OK, he actually said that he liked the sound and feel of her) , I had this feeling that he wouldn’t be buying her. I was right.
So here we are on Monday back to square one. During recent weeks I have received a number of messages from dealers wanting to buy our car, their offers have been just over 50% of the asking price. Today I received an offer which was 95% of our asking price. This would be great if it is genuine, we are open to offers and this is not far short of our price. My instinct though was to check out the website first. I found the website within a couple of clicks. What I couldn’t find were any reviews on the Company. I tried to click on the facebook icon nothing, I tried the same with the Autotrader icon, again nothing.
I decided to call Autotrader as the website claim to be working with them. I had just missed their opening hours by ten minutes. Next I went onto the website for AutoTrader and clicked on the heading Staying safe on AutoTrader. The first thing I saw was this warning.
Beware of Fraudulent Website
Monday 15 September 2014We have received reports of customers receiving a text message asking them to visit to sell their cars quickly for cash. Customers are asked to pay a deposit in order to secure the sale of their vehicle. This website is not genuine and in no way affiliated with AutoTrader. We are currently working to have this website shut down. For more information please contact our Customer Security team on 0330 303 9001.
I am so glad that I followed my instinct to check them out.

I am sure that eventually we will find a genuine buyer for our gorgeous electric blue charriot.
Please if you find yourself wanting/needing to sell or buy a second hand car privately, be aware of the fraudsters out there.
We have since had the same text from a another Company using the web address looking them up they appear to have the exact same website as, I don’t think I will bother looking into it.