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.

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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?

 

 

Just the ticket

Today I needed to collect something from Chichester, Owl was busy so I was going on my own. I am learning but I still don’t know my way around. I can find my way to some places but still need directions to others. We had gone into Chichester on Friday (being Black Friday) the roads were crammed. Parking was a nightmare.In the end Owl dropped me off whilst he drove off to find that elusive parking space.

I thought about where I would park today, and how to get there. I had a look on google maps, that was when it hit me. The rail station was at the end of the road I needed to get to. A plan was forming in my head. I didn’t bother to tell Owl as he was already concentrating on his own plans for the day. My biggest worry as I set off was that the station car park might be full. Luckily there were a fair few spaces, however my problems were only just about to begin. I had always thought that there was only the one pay and display machine at the entrance, now though I could see another machine not far from where I had parked.

Now when did they change these machines? I know I am not a frequent user but really!

I could use my card in the machine or I could download an app or I could call the number on the board. I inserted my bank card but couldn’t make it go to the off peak charge of £2.00 it would only charge me for the day  £6.50. I tried several times but still couldn’t get the machine to do what I wanted. So I changed to another method. I rang the number advertised, the automated voice gave instructions including asking for the number plate, make and colour of my car. Then it wanted to know if I wanted to pay for x amount of days or a month? Noooo I only wanted a few hours. I decided to walk over to the entrance to see if that machine still accepted coins, it didn’t. I paid for a whole day by card via the machine. Having gone back to my car I placed the ticket on the dashboard.

A brief stop on the way into the station to purchase my ticket, this was a little easier as I have done this before. I only had 10 minutes to wait for my train. Luckily I hadn’t pre booked as I had seen three trains going by in the time I was messing around with ticket machines. The journey into Chichester was uneventful and fast as there were no stops ( well there were but we didn’t stop).

Once at my destination, I did a spot of Christmas shopping, not much left to do now! Before making my collection. By then I was feeling thirsty so stopped at a small cafe for a cup of tea and toasted tea cake.IMG_2196

Catching the train home I had 15 minutes to wait but the time went fairly quickly as I indulged in a spot of people watching. It was now the time of day that the local senior schools had finished for the day, so there were several teens in school uniform on both platforms.

The train arrived and I stood with others waiting to board. I noticed among the others a hunched up old man. He followed me onto the train, I sat on the right of the carriage and the old man sat on the left opposite a young girl in uniform. At first I had thought the man was a down and out, but a glance sideways I changed my mind and figured that he was in fact just an old man hunched down into his coat against the cold wind. A few moments into the journey I noticed him fumble with the zip of his backpack. I though he was retrieving his phone as I could hear a muffled ringing. To my surprise he took out a bottle of jagermeister. He proceeded to take a swig from the bottle replacing in back into his bag. The young girl caught my eye but neither of us said anything. I half expected her to say something once he had left the train a couple of stops later. She didn’t, so I kept quiet also.

It wasn’t long before I was walking back to my car, I was ready for home.

On the road again

On Tuesday morning I was resigned to using public transport to get around. Walking up the road I saw the bus that I had failed to catch the previous day. I didn’t mind as I would be going in the opposite direction on this day. Arriving at the bus stop on this cold damp windy morning I checked the bus schedule. Good there should be one at 7.52 and another at 8.02 which would be cutting it fine for me to get to the medical centre for 8.35. Only 12 minutes to wait shivering for my bus, I could do that. I wasn’t looking forward to my fast walk once I got off the bus in the town centre.

By 8.00 I was getting concerned, by 8.05 I gave up and headed back home. I had just reached our gate when I saw my bus floating past the stop where I had been waiting. Well it was too late now. Once inside I phoned for a taxi which arrived just a few minutes later. No sooner was I inside the comfort of the warm taxi, I noticed that the rain had begun.

I was at my appointment at 8.28 so there is no way I would have made it if I had caught the bus. After my appointment I rang for another taxi but had to wait until 9.00. I was at my desk by 9.15, much earlier than if I had caught a bus.

During the day I was wondering how Owl was getting on with charging up the car battery. It was just getting dark when he called and told me that he had not been able to do anything. He believed that the ancient charger he had was not doing the job. With a flash of inspiration I left my office in search of my hero. One of the guys in an office in the same building had charged my car up for me a week or so before. When I found him I asked if I could borrow a charger over night. Which he was happy to do, but suggested I should get a lift home rather than going on the bus with it. When I discovered how heavy it was I knew he was right. One of my colleagues gave me and my charger a lift home in the pouring rain.

Owl put the battery on charge overnight again. The plan being to put it back under the bonnet in the morning. This he did, I had already decided that if it didn’t work I would call a taxi again as I was not enamoured of the idea of carrying that heavy lump of metal and wires to and from the bus. Whilst I was getting myself ready for the day Owl was outside returning the battery to it’s housing. How we cheered when the engine not only turned over but continued to run well. There is no battery light and the dial is showing that the battery is charging as it should.

All is well that ends well and we didn’t have to pay £300+ for a new alternator plus labour to get it fitted. Ok so it took longer but it only cost us £150 with Owl doing it himself.

I had got Owl added to the insurance again last week so now I don’t have to do all the driving any more. I just hope he doesn’t do anything stupid and lose his licence again.

So it goes

We or should I say Owl has made progress, he has decided that he should have listened to his wife days ago. It has been a bright sunny day although cold. After yesterday’s constant rain we awoke today to find a thick crust of white on the car, sheds and nearby roofs. The word on the radio was that we might find a light frost, I would hate to see what they call a heavy frost, never mind today we wouldn’t need to scrape the car as I was catching the bus to work. There lies another tale.

Owl had decided to forget about the missing bolt that had kept him searching in vain for days. Among his many treasures within “Grumpy’s shed”, he had a box of spare bolts, guess what, the very first one he picked up fitted the alternator. The new plan was that he would have an early start to the day, a quick trip into town on the bus then back to fit the new alternator. As we all know the best plans can go awry.

Owl got distracted, meaning that he was then late going into town so that by the time he began working on the car he didn’t have much time before sunset and darkness. By the time I returned home on the bus, the alternator was fitted and the battery was in place. Once the battery had been hooked up I eagerly stood waiting for him to start the engine. The key fob worked to unlock the door so obviously the battery was working.

Owl climbed into the drivers seat inserted the key and turned … I have never heard an engine make the noise this did before it just died. Now the battery is back indoors attached to the charger that Owl inherited from his late father. We are hoping that this will remedy the problem.

If it doesn’t work I shall be on the bus again tomorrow. I am hoping that this won’t be the case as I have an 8.30 am appointment for a blood test at our Medical Centre  which is the other side of the town. I shall have to catch a bus from here to the bus station from which I will have to walk (probably around 20 mins for my short legs). After my appointment which will probably take approximately 5 minutes, I need to get to work as quickly as I can. I shall probably order a taxi as I have no idea how to get to my work by bus from the town. It will probably mean catching one of the buses that go past our house. The buses do go all around the houses to get anywhere.

Which reminds me, I rushed out of our house this morning to catch hopefully the first of two buses which follow a route along roads on three sides of our house. I was almost at the bus stop when the bus pulled up. I tried to run those last few meters but no sooner was I crossing the road behind the bus, when it pulled away again. I was so close that had I put my hand out I could have touched it. So I stood and watched my bus disappear. Luckily at that time in the morning I didn’t have to wait long for the next bus. Much to my surprise I found myself to be the only passenger on this bus until I was three quarters of the way there. From then on more passengers boarded at each and every stop. I arrived at work just in the nick of time.

It looks like I shall be catching the bus again for a while longer.

The Bolt

As I reported a few days ago my poorly Chevrolet Blazer had to hitch a ride home on the back of a recovery vehicle. Since then Owl has taken out the battery which he has charged up. He has also taken out the faulty alternator. We have the new alternator sat on our dinning table waiting to be installed in its place. I have watched a video on how do this. Owl has watched the videos many times to make sure he is confident in what he has to do. There is one small thing stopping him from putting the new part into it’s place.

The Bolt!

When he was taking out the old alternator there were three bolts holding it in place. the two front ones came out easily. However the one at the back, whilst not difficult to extract, has become a problem of the mountainous kind. It pinged out of his grip and now rests somewhere unseen within the engine space. It has not reached the ground, that would be easy. It has been three days now, the gravel under the truck has been searched time and time again. Owl has peered into every conceivable crevice that he can see with the help of various torches. I have stood on the step stool so that I could look down into the engine armed with feather duster in the hopes that I might be able to dislodge the bolt from it’s hiding place. We even tried rocking the car from side to side.

Owl has used the garden hose in an attempt to wash it out. So far nothing has worked. I have phoned the garage which has looked after Owl’s car for years. If we can give them the exact dimensions of the bolt they could find us something to use in it’s place. Even if he can find the dimensions we would have the problem of getting to the garage.

I have suggested that perhaps he could put the new part into it’s position, securing it with the remaining two bolts then carefully drive to the garage, which is probably only about 3 miles away. Owl doesn’t want to do this as he doesn’t want the missing bolt to rattle around in the engine space causing damage.

We are still searching for our second car but in the meantime we have no drivable car. Now if by magic the missing bolt comes to light then it will be all systems go.

I never realised how much one simple bolt could affect my life. Just when Owl has got his new driving licence back too.

Not so little tits

It has been a while since I mentioned my garden birds, most recently I was showing off about our friendly Robin who I got quite close to. He even ventured into our kitchen one sunny morning. Back in May I posted about the baby blue tits that had been visiting my bird feeder. See little tits. For months we were visited by these blue tits, starlings, Mr & Mrs blackbird, many sparrows, the occasional greater spotted woodpecker. We also have regular visits from a couple of pigeons and from time to time a dove.

Over the summer we saw fewer starlings and eventually the blue tits stopped visiting too. The blackbirds had gone, we were left with the sparrows and pigeons. Then Mr robin began making his presence known. He would keep Owl company while he worked in the garden. He would keep me company whilst sat in the sun or hung out our washing etc. A few weeks ago I saw my first gold finch. Then I noticed some tits on the feeder. Getting out my binoculars I discovered that although there was a blue tit feeding there were also three great tits. Not only are they larger and darker in colouring but I noticed that they behave differently too, darting around.

We also have the blackbirds are back and it is impossible to miss the squabbling starlings. This morning I have seen the tits again both blue and great. I am looking forward to the next six months to see who else might visit.