Sunday, 29 March 2020

Called to account.....

Well.... it's taken me ALL DAY, but on the stroke of 5.30pm I finished the annual accounts up to today's date.  So just another week's transactions to go and they'll be finalised.

I have never, in the history of ever, completed the accounts on the final day of the tax year.  I don't think you realise just how momentous this is.

I can hardly believe it myself!

Now I'm going to pour myself a large G+T and sprawl on the sofa for a short while, basking in the unfamiliar sensation of being ahead of the game.

*shuffles off to the kitchen, still shaking head in disbelief*

Saturday, 28 March 2020


Yes, go on.

Say it.

You KNEW I'd start faffing around as soon as I sat down to start the annual accounts.... didn't you?

And you're not wrong.

No sooner had I settled down with the receipts Box of Doom than I suddenly remembered A Very Important Thing that I had to do straight away.
No it couldn't wait.  
Not even for a short while.  
It was really urgent.
I simply had to reorganise the icons on my laptop screen immediately.  I only had enough space for two more and it was obviously critical that I put all else aside to concentrate fully on the impending desktop crisis.

One of these icons was an image that I'd saved a while back as it really resonated with me in a very deep, emotional way.  It spoke to me and initiated a binding connection with my innermost soul.

You want to see it?

I have to admit, I spent longer than strictly necessary, going through the various options, to determine which ones applied to me.

#1 The Cleaner -  tick. Obviously. As is evidenced by my urgent need to clean my laptop desktop.

#2 The Panicker - Hmmm.... not so much.  I rarely have deadlines these days, apart from self-imposed ones, and they're always subject to indefinite extension.
#3 The List Maker - double tick.  I've never happier than when I'm making lists.  Lists are my raison d'etre.  I am a list maker par excellence and my list making skills are legendary.
#4 The Napper - Not really.  Unless I'm poorly.  Small Dog, on the other hand.........
#5 The Sidetracker - triple tick. This way of thinking describes me perfectly.  I really should do something about it.
#6 The Social Sharer - No.  I don't do this.  Except... wait. Is that what I'm doing right now? 
#7 The Internet Researcher - multiple ticks. Although in my defence, the many hours spent on Pinterest are most definitely extremely important and invaluable. *cough*
#8 The Snacker - not so much.  Apart from the odd cup of tea and biscuit during the working day.  Very important to keep hydrated and blood sugar levels elevated for energy.  Plus Small Dog approves.
#9 The Gamer - definitely not.  I hardly ever play games.  Only very occasionally. Wordscapes doesn't count, does it?  
#10 The Watcher - no, I don't watch TV during the working day. Videos? Online videos?  Online videos of dogs and cats doing funny stuff?  *sigh*
#11 The Delegator - definitely not.  Well not very often. And only when PP will do something quicker, better and more efficiently than I will.  Oh, OK. Yes then.  
#12 The Perpetuator - it's a fair cop. 'Banged to rights' is the relevant phrase here. 

Still.... my laptop screen is lovely and tidy.  All the floating files and images have been neatly stored in folders, which I've carefully labelled so that I'll never be able to find them ever again.  
AND the entire process only took a few hours, plus the time to write this.
So plenty of the afternoon still left to get to grips with the accounts.  Which I WILL start straight after I've made a nice cup of tea.  

Thirsty work.... accounts.

Death & Taxes

This weekend, despite the lovely (though chilly) spring-like weather and the fact that tonight we put our clocks forward one hour and thereby gain much lighter evenings, there is a definite air of unreality in even the most mundane tasks.
As we can't go out I'm making a virtue of necessity and spending the weekend doing the annual accounts.  This is unheard of....especially as it's not even the end of the tax year yet. I usually have to be dragged, kicking and screaming, to the receipts Box of Doom, to sort through all the financial ins and outs of the past year and attempting to batter them into some semblance of order, before doing the thing with the spreadsheets and the tens and units and the wailing and the gnashing of teeth.
All I could muster this morning, when I carried the Box of Doom into the workroom was an apathetic shrug of.... meh.
Even the added poignancy of this probably being the last time I'll ever have to struggle with my most despised business task hasn't raised my flagging spirits.  The best I can hope for is that it will take my mind off things and that I'll have a muted sense of relief when they're finally done and dusted.
Incidentally, I had always believed that the famous 'death and taxes' quote was attributable to Benjamin Franklin but according to Wikipedia it first appeared in The Cobler of Preston by Christopher Bullock in 1716....
’Tis impossible to be sure of any thing but Death and Taxes'

In many ways, at the moment, death is a much surer, more imminent threat than taxes ever were.....

I'll let you know how I get on..... *sigh*

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Self-Isolation Sanity Preservation Kits......Number 1

I've started and abandoned several blog posts over the past week, as the situation has been changing so quickly.  Things which seemed unthinkable just a few short weeks ago are now the new normal. Everyone's plans have been thrown into wild disarray and many of us are looking down the wrong end of a spell of self-isolation which could last for far longer than 12 weeks.

Drastic situations call for innovative solutions, and many businesses which can no longer trade normally are looking for different ways of doing things, ourselves included.

I had stopped making toy kits a few months ago, but over the weekend, at the Mini Miniature Show, almost all of my remaining kits, as well as all of the Red Riding Hood travelling toy theatre cart kits were snapped up.  Presumably, with lots of additional time to fill, people are looking for easy-to-make projects which reward them with a lovely miniature at the end.

So, I'm going to raid my extensive back catalogue of kits plus my private collection of vintage games and books to produce a series of inexpensive small kits, which will fit into an A5 envelope, so I don't have to go into to the Post Office.

They won't be available on the website, as they will be very cheap to post and our shipping cart doesn't allow us to fine-tune postage rates for different countries.  So if you want one, just drop me an email and I'll send you a PayPal invoice.  

If you want to you know as when new ones are released,  simply submit your email address in the 'Follow By Email'  box on the right and by the magic of the interweb you'll receive blog updates in your inbox.... I'll mark them Self-Isolation Sanity Preservation Kits so you need only pay attention to the posts which interest you. 

So, the first one is a kit to make 4 different traditional Punch & Judy themed toys as pugnacious Mr Punch seemed a suitably anarchic subject for the current crisis.

The kit includes 2 boxed games, a 3D toy theatre and an illustrated book.

Boxed set of double sided precision cut Punch & Judy characters with illustrated lid

Boxed set of colourful vintage game cards

Precision cut 3D toy theatre

Book with 8 full colour illustrated pages

The kit includes an illustrated instruction booklet and all of the elements to make the minis shown above.
Within the UK the cost of this kit, including P&P is £10.   I'm happy to post worldwide and the cost will depend on where you are but as the kit will fit in a A5 postal envelope the cost of shipping will be much less than sending a standard package.

To order, please contact me with your email address and I'll send you a PayPal invoice.  Also please let me know where you are.  If you need any other information use the contact form and I'll do my best to help.

We're all in this together..... stay safe and well people.

Sunday, 22 March 2020

Day 10...... *sigh*

We're now on Day 10 of self-isolation, so almost 2 weeks in, and the reality is starting to bite.  It's not that we're spending all day at home....we mostly do that anyway.  Nor is it that we're seeing no-one except each other.... we mostly do that anyway too.

We've been out a few times for quiet walks with Small Dog, weather permitting. And once to collect a grocery order from Tesco Click&Collect service.  For all the talk of there being enough food to go round our normal weekly shop had only half the items we ordered.  No eggs, potatoes, chicken, tinned tomatoes.... basic staples.

It's Mother's Day today and we won't be seeing any of our children, or little granddaughter.... apart from a video phone call earlier.

The news reports are alarming.  Outside our small sanctuary bubble, the infection rate is rising steeply, and the death toll is mounting.  The same things are happening around the world.

My hands are like sandpaper, from constant washing and sanitising, and I'm starting to get mouth ulcers... a sure sign of stress.  It's impossible not to be worried and anxious... about ourselves, about family and friends.....

Yesterday evening we set ourselves the challenge of having a 10-minute conversation without mentioning Coronavirus, or its effects.  Despite several tries, we found it was impossible, as no matter what the topic, inevitably we were led back to the current situation.

We have a cruise holiday booked for September, which is unlikely to go ahead, and even if it does, we're 99% sure we won't go.  The recent dreadful results of hundreds of people being confined to their cabins on what were effectively 'plague ships' have limited appeal.

In any case, being away from home seems a Very Bad Idea.

So this is our new 'normal'.  Staying home and trying to stay well.

Of course it's not all bad.  With no distractions I'm able to get on with work.  
As the weather warms up over the next few weeks we're planning to sort out the garden and do some stuff we didn't get round to last year.
Small jobs around the house, which have been outstanding for ages, will now get done.

Looking out of the window on this lovely, sunny early spring day, it's hard to believe that we're on the cusp of such a serious global health crisis, although the lack of traffic and people walking by is definitely noticeable.  In the months ahead, it's impossible to gauge what the situation will be like as we're in such uncharted territory.

Will we eventually emerge into a brave, new world?  Who knows.... I just hope we're still here to see it. 

Wednesday, 18 March 2020

March Mini Miniature Show.... now live!

The March Mini Miniature Show is now open for business and our dealer page can be found HERE!

The perfect antidote to self-isolation.... please feel free to browse ours and the other artisan maker's pages 😊


Monday, 16 March 2020

Postal update.....

Lots of companies who send items by post are now putting out information on how their deliveries are likely to be affected by the Coronavirus outbreak.

At present, as we're effectively self-isolating, I'm reluctant to go and  stand in any queue, let alone the one at our nearest Post Office, which even at the best of times is l-o-n-g and slow-moving.

So, from today, we are only taking orders for items which can be packaged in a flat(ish) box which we can drop off at our local parcel-drop postbox.  Fortunately, this includes ALL of our kits as well as dressed toy dolls as they will easily fit into the required size of box.

For the time being, my Downsizing Sale has been put on hold, as many of the items are bulkier and also require an insured mail service, for both of which I must visit the Post Office.  If you've already had your eye on something, and are happy to wait, just let me know and I'll put it aside for you.

Otherwise it's business more or less as usual. 

However, as the situation worsens, I expect that a lot of small business, like ours, will be hit hard. In uncertain times, people tighten their belts and their purses, and it's likely that when the crisis is over, the business landscape will have changed.

Fellow miniature artisans will already have been working for months towards exhibiting at Miniatura, which has been cancelled, and KDF, which has been postponed for several months.  For many, those fairs represent a significant percentage of their annual earnings.

Granted, most of us have alternative selling platforms... our own websites, Etsy shops and the like, but with potential disruption to postal and delivery services, those avenues may become unreliable, or even close down completely for a time.

As self-employed individuals, none of the measures announced in the recent Budget will help us.  We won't get sick pay or any of the financial relief which larger businesses will qualify for.  Many hundreds of thousands of self-employed people are in the same boat which I fervently hope isn't named Titanic! 

In the meantime though, we will carry on while we can.... self-isolating is a perfect opportunity for me to create new dolls and complete languishing projects.  I might even get that book finished... who knows.  Let's hope it's not published posthumously!!!!!

Stay safe and well and keep on washing your hands!