Tuesday, 11 March 2014


Back in December, after taking a substantial pay-cut in the previous April, I had my Job Title changed. I know. It's only a name. But actually it was very important. At the same time my employer was looking for voluntary redundancies. I applied - enough was enough. I didn't expect, for one minute, that anything would come of it - while I don't think I'm irreplaceable I know that the visitor centre can't manage without the full-time post that I do. My job, as it was, no longer existed and although I enjoyed working with the people I work with - most of whom have become personal friends - I haven't really been happy there for quite a while. I couldn't really see any way out either; hubbys work was sporadic - he's an HGV driver and there are a lot of changes in haulage, the money isn't good and all three firms he's worked for in the last year have sadly gone out of business, or been swallowed up by "the big boys" (Stobarts and DHL are you proud of yourselves for undercutting the whole business?)

Fast forward to February and out of the blue I get a phone call from one of the top managers! :o Was I still interested in redundancy? Well, actually it would be early retirement because I was 4 months too old for redundancy. Hey! What's a word? Words aren't important in Job Titles, so why should I care now? Was I ever interested.....  At the time hubby had a job, his wage would keep us going and I was DESPERATE for a change. So that's where I'm at. I had almost 4 weeks Annual Leave and Lieu days to use, so I am now officially retired! LOL I await our HR departments offer - not holding my breath as they are notoriously slow - while deciding what the future is going to bring. Hubby has been laid off yet again, but I remain positive. (Which is surprising for me - we have no money, I have no job, he has no job, but life will bring whatever it brings.)

My immediate plans are to use part of the lump sum from my pension to fly out to Los Angeles to see my darling son and daughter in law and fix a couple of things around the house; work on the garden (which is a disaster zone), do some crafting/sewing, and maybe - MAYBE - look for a part time job in a couple of months. I'm also thinking about setting up a shop on Etsy. While taking deep breaths and gulping at the thought of having no income I am also excited at what the future is going to bring us.

I haven't been lazy in the meanwhile. The Visitor Centre usually closes in the winter, except for weekends; this year we have trialled Monday and Tuesday opening. Not a huge success but due to changes in our wage and job titles we (3 of us were affected) decided to work to our new job titles, and as such have been very bored; opening seemed to fill that gap partially! :-) We have, however, become painters and decorators! hahaha. We painted the visitor centre. And wow! What a difference. From Corporate Purple, plus red, to bright green. Want to see?

Bright? BRIGHT! Yep. This is what it was like:

I think it probably took about 6 days, over 2 weeks (the 3 days we were closed each week), but it does look better. No doubt there will be some comment about taking work from the decorators employed by the council, but we were beyond caring. lol :-) My parting shot was to order a table same style as the one in the photo above, but with a shorter "leg", to encourage people to sit and have their drinks - and hopefully spend some more money. I'm proud to say that the visitor centre will have broken all previous records in my final year there - beating both annual takings and visitor count figures since it opened in 1998.

Oh! And that wasn't it.... We then proceeded to decorate, using shapes cut on my Cricut. One of my colleagues had great fun cutting and sticking all day. So here's another photo. I'll get in sometime soon and take a photo of the final effort -we're getting very positive comments about how nice it looks now. :-D

And finally in the visitor centre we have the wall hanging made by an artist who attended the Festival back in September. She had visitors drawing what the canal meant to them, and then produced this amazing piece:

It's a beautiful piece of art with all sorts of medium involved - sewing, felting, quilting. Very touchy-feely! :-) And people either love it or hate it... Personally I can't see how anyone can't like it, but there we go - the world would be a very boring place if we all liked the same things, wouldn't it?

What else have I been doing? Sewing, knitting, felting and learning how to turn a crochet at the end of a row neatly! Lots of reading. Delighted that The Great British Sewing Bee has returned.

I finally finished a dress I started last year; just so it was finished really. I don't like it much, which is a shame because I liked the fabric. I've just finished a sleeveless top and a pinafore dress.  Here's the dress on Bessie (as in Bunter... because I got got biiiiiig and she is now stuffed out...) The dress looks much better in real life! And excuse the mess in the background. It's what remains of DS2's stuff that I don't know what to do with!! (A BIG desk mostly.)

You can see the other dress (blue) and sleeveless top (white) hung up in the background.

Our little craft group at work are about to start work on making bunting for the Trans Pennine Trail office. The Tour de France will pass along part of it apparently and they've put out a call for bunting. I contacted the office and basically providing the bunting follows their template in shape and size, they would be delighted to receive bunting made from any medium, so as we have a knitter, crocheter, felter and sewist in our midst..... :-)
Here's the link if you are interested in doing some bunting too.

Last but by no means least. I have been asked to make 220 chair covers!!! My lovely nieces are arranging a Charity Dinner Dance in September. It's in memory of several family member that we have lost, both recently and a long time ago. Proceeds will go to three charities close to our hearts; the most important to me is in memory of my sister (the youngest nieces Mum and step mum to the other two) who died almost 30 years ago. We have the BRCA2 gene in our family and my niece, H, was just 7 when she lost her Mum. My sister was 32.
My own Mum died at 41, when I was 8. My cousin has just been told that her cancer has returned, after almost 20 years in remission. The older niece, S, lost her 5 year old daughter to a very rare form of Kidney cancer, and the other niece, D, lost her partner last year to a brain tumour. Hubby has also been in remission for 7 years now from his prostate cancer.

There was never any doubt that I would do all I could to help. But 220 chair covers!! They were quoted £2.50 per chair cover by the venue, the cheapest they could find on the web was £1.85, all of which would be a one off.  So..... the youngest niece suggested asking me! hahaha! It's the sort of thing she does. :-D Good job I love her.
We have worked out that I can probably make them and it would cost just over £2 a chair, but then they'll have them for future events.... we did get carried away, and by the end of the afternoon S and I were setting up a wedding organising business in the office at D's business. LOL :-D
Anyway this is what we came up with:

A bit rough and ready, but you get the idea? What do you think? The best part is that I will only have to hem, or maybe even just overlock the voile. I can get one of the girls doing that. It's going to be the main cover that takes the time and I can't see many short cuts on that. Any suggestions welcome.
Of course I should be able to cut several out at once because they are just two straight pieces, but I think the sewing machine will be on overtime for the next few months. We're going to use sheeting because not only will it work out cheaper, the piece from floor front right over to floor back can be done in one piece/length. And then side to side is half another length.

Phew..... Well, I don't post often, but when I do I don't half talk drivel! LOL Need to go and do things now. I'll try not to leave it so long next time, but thanks for sticking with me! :-D

Speak soon.
Jude. xx