Monday, May 29, 2017

SHERINGHAM DIARY 2 - Restoring Equilibrium

Our new life here is taking on an easily recognisable stride. We have a few things we routinely do, such as having our Sunday breakfast at a favourite cafe of ours,The Mulberry Tea Rooms, We often walk into town, rather than cycle or drive, for, yes, we have now bought a car, about which more later. I make a fresh loaf every week and Jnanasalin is working his way through baking all of the recipes in The Hummingbird Cookbook.

Its a great delight at the end of the day being able to go down into town, buy chips or an ice cream and sit on the promenade or by the boating pond and just stare out to sea. Taking pleasure in these small aspects of life here and even domesticity, each as they have presented themselves.

I'm still a Housekeeper for Byfords B and B in Holt, though how much longer could be called to question. They're very nice people to work for, and the people I've worked with so far are all really easy to get on with. But the work itself I find hard physically and somewhat unrelenting, Last Bank Holiday Saturday for instance I started work at 8.30 am and finished at 4.30 pm. Starting by cleaning public toilets, then it was stripping beds, cleaning bathrooms, making beds and setting up for the next guests, one room after another all day.  On Saturday, as we had a large number of early book ins, three of us had to do this process in fifteen minutes  per room. Even in cool weather this can be taxing, but in the middle of a heatwave it became a form of torture. I'm not good with humidity or heat, I find myself getting easily mentally befuddled. I've twice forgotten to put towels out in a bathroom this week.  I'm also finding I've become disconnected from what I'm doing, its as if I'm working on a conveyor belt where I'm thrown off it at the end of the day exhausted.

I have another job as a Caretaker for National Trust Holiday Cottages in the pipeline, but getting this set up appears to be taking ages. Even then its just a day or two a week, and the pay is as poor as at Byfords. Ideally I'd prefer a job with no travelling to work involved. I've applied for a Caretaker job at Sheringham Community Centre, but have not heard back and its now two weeks after the closing application date.  I recently gave a good presentation of myself for a Retail Assistant at Felbrigg Hall, and for a moment entertained the possibility of holding down two jobs with the National Trust, but I didn't get it.  That was disheartening, as the National Trust is more the sort of ethos I could happily work for.  Financially its better if my employment is nearer home, and hope I can find a little bit more of a heart connection for it too. Otherwise I'm going to find maintaining interest in work hard in the longer term.

With only a couple of months til Jnansalin's work for Windhorse Trading ceases to be full time. he's also started looking for work. I went with him recently to give my impressions of one place he had an interview at. It was a Farm Shop near Felbrigg, that we found somewhat in need of a revamp, quite worse for wear and had an air of being un-cared for. Jnansalin thought he might be able to bring some refreshing creativity and retail experience to bear on the situation, however, the owner seemed to think nothing was wrong with the place, and the job appeared less a managerial one and more a PA for her. So he came away feeling a tad disheartened, but there are other jobs in the pipeline, so lets see what surfaces over the next couple of months.

So, yes, we've bought a car, a black Vauxhall Corsa, ten years old, which we've christened Nigella, because its black with broad hips.  Jnanasalin is taking driving lessons which are going well. We now we have a car he can practice in, as long as I'm in the passenger seat with him.  I'm supposed to be the experienced driver, but that's really written on very thin paper. I haven't driven for ten years since a severe car crash that totaled my last car. That car was called Arthur, because of its many dents. Even getting back into a passenger seat has provoked nervous jittery tension. I would like to overcome this and get back driving, but gradually in my own time. However the National Trust job if it comes through, will require me to drive, so this could make my being confident to drive a more time critical issue, and probably much sooner than my emotional readiness. The very thought of this, at the moment, petrifies me and I can feel myself inwardly getting into a panic,
The inside of my new workshop

My workshop is now set up and has had electric installed so I have light and power.  So in my spare time I've a list as long as my arm of furniture for the house that need painting or re-varnishing to work through. I've recently painted and waxed a mirror frame  that we picked up for a tenner from a local car boot, It now coordinates with our lounge colour scheme.

I finished this week, restoring a large coffee table, that we got for free off Gumtree. It was being given away because some obviously delightfilled child had gouged and scrawled in biro all over the oak veneer table top. After some cautious sanding down and filling in of those gouges, I've re-varnished the top and painted the under carriage in Farrow and Ball - Purbeck Stone No 275. It now looks rather splendid, you'd not know unless the shadowy remnants of lines in its grain were pointed out.

Neither of us has much creative capacity for Cottonwood Workshop at the moment, so we have to just hang loose with its under performing and our subsequent lack of engagement. We saw a potentially ideal site for our cafe last week, but its far too early to be even thinking about it. We'll just have to hope its still available to rent in six months time. No one appears to have snapped it up for this summer season, so if anyone else has there eye on it, they too are waiting till the turn of the year, before making their move.

As our countryside coastal life develops, we are also engaging with things we've not had the opportunity to do before, like deciding how we want our garden to be. Now I say 'garden' but it really consists of two squares of shale surrounded by herbaceous plants at the front, and two stepped strips of shale and red stone at the back, with a rather bedraggled bamboo in a collapsing wooden tub on our minute patio. Lots of potential there is, but of the most minimal kind. Nonetheless, we started developing ideas for our back garden, planting sweet peas, and buying a number of different types of lavender to plant across the strip of grey shale fragments. The latter already looks good, as it gets bedded in further I expect they will bulk out and fill the space more.

As a consequence of living here I'm doing more walking. But if I do too much my left hip gets quite sore, inflamed and painful, so I've actually had to swallow my pride and buy myself a walking stick.  This helps to some extent, though I think its really time I talked to a Doctor about it, which reminds me I need to register with one.  In the meantime I've been working on developing my country casuals look.

Monday, May 01, 2017

SHERINGHAM DIARY 1 ~ The First Month

It's been a long time since I've posted anything on this blog.  Life has been quite full with rather important stuff. Jnanasalin and I have launched our web craft business Cottonwood Workshop and started selling things we've handmade or upcycled on the craft selling site Etsy, and recently we've moved to North Norfolk.

We now live in a very pretty little village Upper Sheringham, which is a mile outside the seaside town of Sheringham. It's a village of only 210 people, and we feel a bit like Miss Marple living in St Mary Mead, constantly on the look out for odd behaviour. Our neighbours are lovely and have made us feel very welcome. Some have even written to our letting agent to thank him for finding such good people, which is rather nice to know.

So, after two years of saving and planning to move here, here we are. I came back home from a fortnights solitary retreat mid February and one of the first things Jnanasalin said was, we're going to look at a house in Sheringham next Tuesday   That house is the one we now live in, which is as near our ideal as we could possibly find.  We began packing early, which meant we'd be ready to move as soon as we signed.  But it did mean we were living in a room stacked ever higher with packed boxes for six weeks. We had to plan our move in two phases, household stuff first and business/workshop stuff second, each time we were fortunate to have friends willing to drive a van up for us. The leaving of Cambridge, after fifteen years of living there, was relatively swift, we even had to plan our leaving party for two weeks after we'd moved, when we knew we'd be returning to pick up the business and workshop.

Our house is the 3rd Cottage down this terrace

Once here we spent a few weeks constantly unpacking boxes and finding homes for items, never sure where stuff might be stored, receiving deliveries of white goods, IKEA and furniture etc. We have now passed our IKEA furniture assembly exams Level 3, with a day bed that took 3 hours to put together, and our wardrobe that took 4.  How we want the house to be is still gradually taking shape, with further refinements to do.  We have not put many pictures up yet, as we need to get a feel for the rooms and to be certain where furniture will finally end up. Plus I've got a large list of furniture I'm going to sand down, paint and varnish to match, at some point.

I've got my first job within a week of applying for it, eighteen hours cleaning a week for Byfords B & B in Holt.  Its only minimum wage so it falls substantially short of what I need to earn. Finding better paid part time work here is not going to be easy. Whatever I do in additional work is most likely not going to be cleaning, as most cleaning here will revolve around a holiday turn around on Friday/Saturday. The Holt job I'm so far finding is really intense hard work, I'm not sure how physically sustainable I'll find it longer term, but for now its a start, and gets some money coming in. Who knows what I'll be doing by the summer.

We are both feeling quite settled, but this still has an air of like being on an extended holiday here. Both of us are sleeping so much better and are consequently more relaxed.  Though our future employment issues are a concern, Jnanasalin's work for Windhorse Trading will most likely cease being full time from mid July, so he'll need to find something else by then.  Plus he's learning to drive, and I also will of necessity have to get back into a driving seat after ten years or so out of one. So, I can see it could be some months yet before either of us can give the further development of Cottonwood Workshop, and the future cafe project much thought or time.