Comfortably Crafting

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            Like everything else when the grumpiness sets in, crafting takes a back seat while I hold onto my sanity so it’s nice to see my latest piece completed.   It’s been sitting on the coffee table for the last few months and although I attempted a knot here and there, I couldn’t build up the enthusiasm or creativity to play with the string.

          Over the last week or so the creativity has come back, and yesterday I finally found the confidence to glue down the ends and attach the mirror.

          Until recently I hadn’t thought of myself as a crafter, I just like making things.  I was talking to Eldest Daughter the other day and she said I’m a “Gardener“, I argued that I’m not very good at it, but she pointed out that if I was going running, no matter how good or bad I was, I would be classed as a runner, and so because I am actively looking after my flowerbeds, even though they are just a tiny section of Ma Nature’s world, that makes me a Gardener.

          I’m not one for fitting into a particular description or category, but I knit, I knot, I sew, and I’m a a general maker of many things.  The category of Crafter is so broad that I could easily slot in there somewhere and still have room to move around inside… So I guess I’m a crafter.

          One thing I most definitely am not is an organiser, I very often give off the appearance of being organised, simply because I’m so scatty that I have to concentrate on doing the right things at the right time.  I’m a creature of habit, I do the same things over and over again, the same things in the same order.  One task has to be completed before the next is reached.  In this way if my magpie mind flits off to a shiny thought elsewhere, I can return to the job in hand and follow it through in order to see where I left off, and what comes next. 

          Even something as simple as breakfast time has to follow a routine… Get up, take tablets out of my bag and take my first tablets with a glass of water, then the other tablets get put on the counter next to the kettle.  I have to wait half hour between my first tablets and my second or my coffee, which of course gives time for my mind to wander off elsewhere, but those tablets have to stay on the counter until I take my second tablet, and have my caffeine coffee, then they’re allowed to go back into my handbag until the next morning.  If I’m away somewhere, let’s say staying at a hotel where I have to leave the room tidy and the pills go back into my handbag while I go downstairs for breakfast, then that’s it… The routine is broken and the second pill very often just sits forgotten in my handbag to confuse me later in the week when I’ve got too many left, and then it dawns on me why I haven’t been feeling so well.

          Last Christmas I was asked to help organise the “Christmas Craft Fayre” by a crafting friend.  Part of me was horrified at the thought, but part of me was so disappointed at the cancellation of the Fayre I’d booked a table at that I shocked even myself and said yes.

          My Nana always told me that I could do anything I wanted to… I just had to want it enough.

          My Craft Friend was to be the organising half of the team, playing to her strengths, and I was to bring my strengths… My imagination and talking to people skills.  Somehow we achieved an amazingly successful Christmas Fayre.   I set us up a Facebook group to help keep the crafters in touch and smiling, I made posters and shouted about the Fayre to anyone and everyone who would listen, and my Craft Friend pulled everything together for the Grand Christmas Fayre.

          My Nana was right, I really wanted the Craft Fayre, and we pulled it off. However, my poor little grey cells were so over stretched that the rest of my world wasn’t coping so well so I had to take a few steps back and re-group. .

          I wouldn’t have missed the joint organising of the Christmas Fayre for the world, it was a great experience and I made loads of new friends but my poor marbles… That’s another story…

          I decided no more organising, I would revert back to just being a crafter at a craft fayre, the Facebook group had extended to a second site for selling, and I couldn’t keep up with all the rules and regulations to keep everything legal so I took a step back there too… Just to the basic page of “show and tell”… Keep it simple, keep it smiling.

          The crafting still goes on… I’ve found a little shop where they will sell my knotting, minus a little commission per sale.   I took on a few repeat orders, but found I didn’t enjoy making the same thing over and over again so now I don’t take orders, I just let my fingers play with the string and see what they come up with.

          I can make what I feel like, sell a couple of bits at the shop to cover my costs, and then at the end of the year spend a day at a Christmas Craft Fayre.

          Once again, crafting has become comfortable. 

                     More from before: A little peek further into the world that I’ve “Created“.

The Cafe

          On one of my internal career moves around the supermarket I work for, I worked for about two years in the cafe.  We used to have a job rota, I smile here at the memory of listing one of my jobs on my CV… “maintaining a clean and healthy eating environment and operating dishwashing machinery” (cleaning tables and washing dishes). 

          I pulled the early shift, I was almost always up before the sun and in the cafe by 6am cooking up the bacon, sausages, and other delicacies which make up a good old fashioned English breakfast.  The next member of staff started at 7am to help set things up and the full morning staff arrived for 8am to open the cafe.

          Once 8am arrived, we would all move into position on the rota.  One person on the till, one on coffees, one on hot food, another on cooking, and finally one on tables.  We made a good team, we were a motley bunch, everyone had their strengths… And their weaknesses… And we all looked after each other.

          I remember I didn’t like to work on the till position, not because of the money responsibility, or the customer contact, I didn’t like it because of the air conditioning.  Because of the hot food and cooking, the thermostat on the air-con was always turned down quite low and one of the air vents was just above the till.  Sitting on the chair next to the till I would be permanently in a cold draft… You can imagine, my “Rheumatism” used to object strongly.  After I had spent a cold morning sitting in a draft, I would spend the rest of the day like a granny with my legs wrapped in a wooly blanket to avoid taking more pain killers.

          I used to laugh at some of the other ladies, the ones who were “those women” at “that” time of life.  The ones with the hot flushes, who used to avoid working on hot food at all costs.  But of course, also the ones who were always happy to swap with me on the till.

          “Hot food” consisted of a giant hotplate in front of you with hot cupboards underneath, and two small hotplates behind you to cook fried eggs on.   As the name suggests, it was hot, busy and hot, but I used to stand in close against the heated cupboard to let the heat seep right into my bones, and I don’t remember a time when my right hand was so comfortable as when plating up breakfasts under the heated lamps.  We were a very popular cafe, and there would be a constant queue of people wanting breakfast until 11am when breakfast stopped and you changed over to the lunch menu.

          “Coffees” was one position I liked, it was relatively easy really, but you always caught the brunt of a grumpy customer.   I used to make it a mission to listen to the customers complaints at hot food and change their mood as I made their drinks and sent them off to the till.

          I remember once a very grumpy gentleman complaining about how bad the service was and saying that the service wasn’t a patch on that he had just received on his holiday in America.   By the time he was taking his breakfast and coffee to the till, he was so busy telling me about his holiday that he forgot to complain about the service, which was usually very good anyway.

          “Cooking”, wasn’t real cooking really, can you imagine how bad everything would have tasted if I’d have really had to cook it?  I don’t like my cooking, so I wouldn’t inflict it on anybody else.   Breakfast was prepped on large trays the day before and ready for me to just take out of the fridge and put into the oven on a timer and lunches came as giant ready meals, defrosted overnight and heated through in a giant microwave.  The difficult part of the cooking job on the rota was the timing, keeping the breakfast supplied while preparing the lunch menu to be ready for the change over at eleven o’clock.

          “Tables”.  If we had a shortage of staff at anytime, and were able to borrow someone from the main shop, this is where they worked so as there was almost always a shortage of staff, we didn’t get to work in this position often.  It was a busy part of the cafe, clearing and cleaning tables, putting dishes through the giant dishwasher, making sure cups etc were in place for coffees, filling up sugars and condiments, and if you were really lucky, chatting a little to customers as you worked too.

          I remember one old couple, they came in every morning without fail. They would buy one pot of tea with two cups and ask for a pot of water too, then they would sit with their teas until they’d read all the papers in the cafe and say goodbye to everyone before they left… Until the next morning.

          The regulars felt a bit like an extended family… There was “Three toast man”, as soon as we spotted him in the queue we would put on more toast ready, and “Mr Grumpy”, who no amount of smalltalk could stop him complaining at something as he reached the till.

          This is where I first learned about putting marmalade on my bacon.  We used to sell bacon or sausage baps, just a soft white roll with two bits of bacon or two sausages in it, then you would collect butter from the till, or squirt it with ketchup as you reached your table. We sold little jars of jam to go with the toast and one day a young lady bought some marmalade with her bacon roll.  I jokingly asked her if that was for her bacon and almost couldn’t believe my ears when she said yes… Why had I not thought of this before!

          Strawberry jam in cheddar cheese sandwiches, raisins with grated cheese, bramble jelly with philadelphia, these are quite normal in my world, but bacon with marmalade, that was a new one on me. 

          On my next tea-break, I bought a bacon roll and a pot of marmalade to try… Wonderful, but I did learn not to empty the whole jar of marmalade into my roll because as the jam gets hot it melts… And dribbles down your chin.

          I enjoyed my time at the cafe. It was a cheap and cheerful cafe, but the food was good, and the quality and hygiene to a standard where you would often see the staff quite happy to eat alongside the customers.           I was in the cafe for about two years before circumstances changed and when the supermarket out-sourced it to another company, I took another sideways step onto another department.

2013-04. Petes eats.

          Today’s breakfast photo comes from another cafe which I’m always happy to recommend… “Peter’s Eats“, in “Llanberis“, perfect fuel for a day of walking in Snowdonia. .  

Plumbing saga

          Following on from “Water is Lazy“.. The Plumbing saga continues…

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          The steps to our front door are not the most inviting, so far, the emphasis has been on just fixing and making safe, just as well really considering the Plumbing saga over the last few weeks.

          Remember the handyman who came and laid the “Picture Patio” for us?  He did some repair work on the front of the house too and I’m pleased to say his repair work there was undertaken with just as much care and attention as his patio laying.

          The brick wall surrounding our little patch of garden between the bay window and the pavement has apparently suffered somewhat from the traffic vibration on the road outside… But hey, by the time I’m seventy-five I’ll need a little help with my appearance too…

          In time we will be ready to replace and rebuild the front steps and walls, but for the moment we asked our handyman to just make it safe. He carefully took off the loose bricks, cleaned them and put the wall back together safely.  Then instead of just skimming the patch of loose concrete at the top of the steps, he cut away the loose surface to reach a firm surrounding area and filled the solid framework with new cement.  Needless to say, when we are ready to do the front of the house he will be the first port of call.

          Meanwhile… Enter the next plumbers…

          They phoned to say they were on their way as I was getting ready for work. Not ideal, but apparently they wouldn’t need to enter the house so they would just carry on without me.

          Photo updates from the plumbers, with thanks.

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         Oh boy… When I got home I was so glad that neither Hubby or I had been here.  We arrived to not one, but two new patches of concrete.  I phoned around to find out what had happened

          Apparently, when they dug the first hole they found that the pipe between the house and the meter was so bad that they had to replace it.  To be honest, I wish they’d had to dig up our steps, however, they have a gadget they call a mole.  Of course, the image of a little mole poking his head up from the hole in my path came to mind.  But instead of the cute picture of this pointy-nosed animal resting his elbows on the edge of the hole, it would appear that the mole in question is a machine which can bore a new hole where an old pipe is, and then a new pipe can be inserted into said hole to replace the old.

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           The cement has dried, and I’ve given the walls a good scrub with a wire brush to take away cement splashes. I’ve given next doors hedge a sneaky haircut near the front door and pulled up a few dead weeds, and although the pathway still resembles a patchwork blanket, it’s tidy… And dry.

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         Ahh… But what of the stoptap?

          Well, the second emergency plumber came back with a new tap he’d managed to source, unfortunately it didn’t fit.  It would seem the old stoptap is as old as the house too so now we have the old stoptap, with new fittings inside it, and the old handle has now been soldered back on so that we can turn off the water supply.

          Some good news though… When the water supply is turned off at the stoptap, the dial on the meter is stopped… Meaning no more leak. Yay! . 

          More “Fixings and finishings“.