Sunday, July 30, 2017

SHERINGHAM DIARY 4 ~ Storms and Vicissitudes

So, July has come and gone with a seamless flow of heatwaves interspersed with torrential storms. Its as though we are being given a fore taste of what may come in the winter months. My own mood has to an extent mirrored this change in the weather, between a moderately sunny contentment and the nagging clouds of unease.

The Laundry where I work ~ spacious eh!

The source of this 'unsettling' arises from my work, which I could describe as a repeated exercise in running extremely fast in order to staying exactly where you are. Now, if I were on a running machine in a gym, this might hold potential health benefits, but this job feels like it should come with a health warning?

Well, we are now in high holiday season and most of the guests stay only one or two nights. This means we clean and replenish the rooms as well as change wash, dry and iron bedding and towels for between 3 - 6 rooms daily. My work is supposed to be part-time, four hours, five days a week, three days housekeeping and two washing up in the kitchen. At the moment the housekeeping stretches to five, five and a half, and frequently six, and I struggle to keep on top of the workload and ensure I don't leave the next days housekeeper too huge an overflow - usually of towels. Towels! oh but lets not allow my gripe engine to go into over rev.

Housekeeping itself is straightforward work, however, the thoroughness with which I can execute it is restricted by the size and processing of this laundry workload. The only way to make this combination of Mrs Mop and Widow Twankey work is to throw time at it. So I'm having to draw boundaries around how much extra I do, otherwise this job will eat me up for breakfast, dinner and tea. I have also to take my physical limits into account, anything over five hours and my physical stamina declines, as my aches and pains start a rapid ascent into heightened awareness.

So, yes, the job is not good, I earn enough, but at some cost to energy and interest in doing anything else. Finding another job before the summer finishes is not looking a hopeful prospect, which can knock my confidence and positive approach if I let it.  The job market in North Norfolk appears largely comprised of minimum wage work, predominantly cleaning and care work. Poor jobs on poor money, is the reality of employment not just for me, but a growing percentage of pre-Brexit Britain. God knows what will happen after.

On a more optimistic note, just when we thought our selling via Etsy had completely dried up, this week we've had three sales, two from folk in Hampshire (we don't know if they are connected) and one from France. This surprised me as we've put almost no effort into it for over six months.  So The Cottonwood Workshop flag keeps flying even when there's not a following wind from us.  My struggles with work have arisen in what could be characterised as a bardo period in our future plans, and a consequent lack of creative direction. When work isn't creatively satisfying, I tend to cope better with that if I'm doing or working towards something else that is.

The ideal site for our cafe, as I said last month has now opened as a coffee shop, and it is a very odd set up. Painted outside in a Farrow & Ball Dark Grey, rather roughly I might add, as if the painter ran out of paint and the owners said, oh to hell with this lets open anyway. Inside its not quite plain and simple, more sparse and spartan with plain plywood faced counter, tables and similar cheap looking chairs. It has the air of a place not quite sure of its style, and certainly not there yet. We are beginning to suspect they might be on a short 6 month lease. Either that or they intend to finish off the paintwork in the autumn. They are the Grey Seal Coffee company who have been selling their own roasted coffee online, and appear to be opening new cafes on the North Norfolk coast at a rapid rate. They have one in Blackeney, Wells next the Sea, now Sheringham, and another is planned for Burnham Market. I hope we can do better.

Jnansalin has started his new job, and two weeks in is getting to grips with how things really are with the charity and the shops. As ever, the job and the reality are slightly different to how they seemed at interview. Some of the interview questions have started to reveal part of their backstory. There's a lot for him to do, and I mean a lot of things to do, so once he's settled in, much to be sorted out. But, he's more than capable of what needs doing, some very small changes he's made have already shown signs of turning things for the better.  He didn't pass his first driving test, but has his second next week . So currently he travels to work just outside Norwich by bus, which makes a long day that bit longer.

My projects for the house, are moving forward, slowly. I finished the repaint/waxing of a display cabinet we originally bought for a tenner. Quite a lot of sanding was required to remove the black gloss top coat, and several coats of paint then waxing. I'm quite pleased with the way its come out. Lately, I've been working on three frames for some Delft tiles we bought from an Amsterdam Flea Market a few years ago. These are now finished, I just have to decide where and how to hang them on our lounge wall, and that's all the jobs for the lounge done

I've already moved on to things for the bedroom, with making a frame to stretch a Belgian Tree of Life tapestry we bought in Bruge on our honeymoon. This is now in pride of place over our beds. Next up are two second hand side tables that need sanding and varnishing to match. I've hit my first obstacle in that it appears you can't remove any of the fixings, so my idea of taking them apart sanding down and reassembling them will have to be rethought.

I'm getting quite good at this sort of thing, now I've done so much of it. I've been wondering lately whether I should turn it into a business, to work to my strengths more, which isn't what I'm currently doing. Apparently, according to the internet, its what people of my age do, when faced with a poor or disinterested job market ~ pause for further reflection.

For a while now I've been testing out Carrot Cakes, trying to get an idea for what a really good carrot cake is. I consider it as research for our future cafe. In order to be a bit clearer in my analysis, to pin the necessary qualities down better, I've started writing a new blog called Perfect Carrot Cake where I review and score the carrot cakes I eat in North Norfolk. Give it a look.

This weeks major weekend event in Sheringham was the Harley Davidson Ride Through, where hundreds of Harley Davidsons and their owners rumble into town, park for a few hours then rumble out of town. I've never seen so many badges, chains and leather in one place, plus an assortment of shaven heads, pigtails and bear beards, both male and female. 

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