Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Clean ALL the things.........

I've spent the past 3 hours cleaning the inside of the caravan while PP, with her extra height and longer reach cleaned the outside.

A full 3 hours!

It wouldn't be so bad but it still isn't finished.  

How can such a small space take so long to clean?  OK so there are zillions of cupboards and lots of nooks and crannies but still.

3 hours..... 

Small Dog came out into the van with me to 'help' which consisted mainly of lying on her back with her legs up in the air in a patch of sunlight on the seat.  I had to move her a few times otherwise I'd have had to clean round her, which elicited a deep sigh and rolling of her eyes.

I remained unmoved.

When we're camping, she likes to sit up on the back of the seat by the window to keep a close eye on any dog/rabbit/duck/bird incursions inside her perimeter.  As a result there is usually a fairly even line of dried dog snot all along the inside of both the side windows.  I pointed this out to Small Dog, as I laboriously cleaned and polished them, but she gave me the equivalent of a shrug and went back to her sunbathing.

I don't know if you've ever had to clean dog snot off the inside of a caravan window, but I can tell you it's not easy.  It has a tendency to smear.  I spent around 15 minutes on each window, but when I'd finished they were crystal clear.  

I then made a start on the washroom which is at the rear of the caravan.  40 minutes later, I emerged, to find Small Dog sitting on the back of one of the seats with her snotty nose pressed right up against the window, intently watching a magpie on the lawn.

I honestly don't know why I even bother......

Sunday, 27 May 2012



Possibly the hottest May day in the history of ever and we had to work. 


OK so the fair venue was air conditioned, which only served to highlight the searing temperatures when we emerged mid-afternoon to pack the car.  I had to feel sorry for the girl dressed as a dragon all day, as a homage to the theme of the fair, which was Fairy Tales and Nursery Rhymes.

Once home, and car unpacked, we headed for the garden and tackled the shed to unearth our relaxer chairs which haven't seen the light of day since the end of summer 2011.  There followed a brief period of me screaming and prancing around to avoid the humungous spiders which had taken up residence in the chairs, and were reluctant to relinquish possession.

Small Dog is next to useless in these situations as I suspect she too has a deep-seated fear of scuttling things, although she feigns nonchalance.  She kept her distance as arachnids of all shapes and sizes were flung through the air by PP in response to my lily-livered wailing.

By the time calm had been restored, and all eight-legged creatures evicted, I was decidedly hot under the collar and badly in need of an ice cold beer.  Fortunately, on our return I had the foresight to put a few in the freezer against just such an eventuality.

I was only in the house for 30 seconds max, but when I emerged I discovered Small Dog had sequestered my lounger and was stretched out right across it, giving me a look which clearly said:

"WHAT!?  You want THIS chair?  But I've only just laid down....."

Unfortunately for Small Dog, I was unmoved, and dealt with her plea for squatter's rights in short shrift, after which she went into a sulk and lay on the patio in full sun, panting her furry head off, glancing at me occasionally to make sure that I witnessed her discomfort.

She was slightly mollified when we dragged out the BBQ, and positively cheered up when we mentioned sossages, which are her favourite BBQ food.

Apart from steak.

And pork chops.

And burgers.

And asparagus.

It's been a long day.........

Saturday, 26 May 2012

By Jingo....

Had to go to the summer hell that is Tesco earlier today......

The entire store is a sea of red, white and blue, with the Union Jack featuring prominently.  You're hard pressed to find any item not emblazoned with our national flag.

Now, don't get me wrong.

I'm as patriotic as the next woman, especially if she's a Scot living in England, but the current Jubilee enthusiasm is ramping up to  complete overkill.  There were entire aisles of the store filled to overflowing with flags to put on your car, flags to hold and wave, flags masquerading as bunting to decorate your street party gazebo, flags decorating cups, plates, glasses, napkins..... the list is endless.

If you're not flagged out you can buy Union Jack decorated cakes, all your party food,  supplies decorated with flags, and Union Jack beer.  For the sartorially minded there are T-shirts with Union Jacks, ditto belts, jewellery, hats, scarves, knickers, socks ......

I suppose I should declare my interest at this point, as we're going on a Caravan Club Jubilee Rally next weekend and everyone is expected to decorate their caravan/motorhome.  We already have some shabby chic bunting in red/white/blue, but not of the Union Jack variety, (although I did succumb to some napkins) and I hold up my hands to having ordered a doggy bandana for Small Dog which, yes, you've guessed it, features The Flag.

However, I'm intending to buck the trend ever so slightly and take one of these....

 Whether or not I get 'woaded up' remains to be seen....

Caution to the wind........

Another stunningly lovely day.... blue skies, warm sunshine, balmy breeze.... perfect.

In view of the fact that we've now had several days of summer, I have decided to relinquish my socks and jeans and expose my winter-white shins to the unsuspecting populace.  This first required some extensive deforestation, exfoliation, moisturisation and buffing, all of which have resulted in my legs looking more like corned beef than the soft, supple, gamine pins of my imagination.

No matter.

I did score a minor personal triumph in that this morning I excavated a pair of shorts from the depths of my wardrobe, which haven't fitted me for 2 years.  In fact last summer I couldn't even get them over my (admittedly sturdy) hips, but today they slid on easily. 

Not only that, I could do them up... zip, buttons, the lot.

Not only that, they're actually a quite baggy..... so RESULT!

Right.... I have a zillion things to do today so I must disdain the delights of lounging about in the garden and get on.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Summer has arrived.....

Finally the weather seems to have got its act together and decided that as it's almost the end of May we should be having warm sunshine and clear blue skies instead of freezing rain.

I can't quite manage to make the transition from the November-like weather we had a few weeks ago, and this sudden summer.  Might be forced to get my legs out if it keeps up.....

Busy weekend in prospect.... CDHM tutorial tomorrow evening (it's free and there's still time to register!) on micro wigging, then a doll fair in Maidstone on Sunday.  Apparently some eedjit thought it would be a good idea to fill the entire weekend with work.

*Ah.... that would be me then*

In response to all the enquiries about Small Dog, she's making an excellent recovery. She's still sporting an increasingly grubby bandage over her stitches, and neither PP or I can quite pluck up the courage to take it off, hoping that she'll do it herself.  However that will then expose her stitches and the sight of her tugging at them will make me feel quite queasy.....

Catch 22.

In other news.... well there is no other news.  Except that our June Kit of the Month will not be released till the middle of the month, due mainly to the extended Jubilee weekend celebrations which will throw my work schedule into a cocked hat and send it off to hell in a hand basket.

Just hope the sun keeps shining......  


Monday, 21 May 2012

Small Dog wants one of these too......

She is firmly of the opinion that if this is the only way she's going to gain"Employee of the Month" status then she's all for it........


Bloody trauma.....

I had an epic nose bleed last night..... first one in some time.  Just sitting quietly at the table after dinner, thought I felt my nose running and....


Instant bloody waterfall.

Clutching a paper napkin to my nose I made a dash for the downstairs loo and spent the following 20 minutes attempting to staunch the flow. By the time it had gone from a gush to a trickle the room looked as though Sweeney Todd, Jack the Ripper and The Wolfman had all been partying in there.

I now have some inkling of the forensic science behind blood spatter patterns, gleaned from cleaning several of them off the walls.

Whilst leaning over the basin, clutching blood-soaked tissues to my nose and attempting to pinch the bridge of my nose tightly.... not easy with slippery fingers... I mused that perhaps I was exhibiting a particularly extreme form of stigmata, and that if that was the case, I was probably too good for this world and would be swept up by angels at any moment.

However, as the minutes ticked by, and the basin gradually filled with blood and tissues I realised that, on reflection, I was merely becoming light-headed, and that the sound of heavenly voices ringing in my ears was more likely an incipient faint.  So I was forced to sit on the toilet instead, and contemplate the fascinating spatter patterns emerging on the floor.

It did stop eventually, although when I inadvertently glanced in the mirror whilst mopping up the blood stains I almost fainted dead away as my face was absolutely covered in blood, as were my hands and forearms.  If this ever happens in a public place, with CCTV coverage I'll probably be taken for the victim of a stabbing.

Still, it brightened up a dull Sunday evening.....

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Small Dog wants one..........

Small Dog is an avid camper.  She loves the feel of the wind in her fur, sitting out under the stars round a smouldering fire pit.....

So when she saw THIS.....

in a recent issue of the Caravan Club magazine she felt she had to put forward the case for a similar setup for dogs.

Discerning dogs you understand....

Obviously it would have to come with an en suite bathroom, hot and cold running water, gravy bones on tap, a memory foam mattress bed, doggy duvet and all mod cons.

And even more obviously it would have to be brought into the full-size caravan each night and not merely consigned to the awning, or even the pup tent.


Friday, 18 May 2012

Nose to the grindstone, shoulder to the wheel....

Contrary to what you might be thinking, my workroom has been a veritable hive of activity this past week and the HQ of Tower House Dolls, (Incorporated, Amalgamated, Consolidated and very, very Limited) has seen its workforce step up a gear.

Well, not ALL of the workforce obviously.

Small Dog is still on sick leave following her leg surgery last week, and is milking the sympathy vote for all she's worth.  For the first 6 weeks post surgery she has to be very careful.  Frequent, short walks, no off lead time, even in the garden, no doing stairs or jumping up.

Yeah right.....

For the first three or four days she existed in a post-anaesthetic fug, barely moving from her basket by herself, not eating or drinking and looking thoroughly sorry for herself.  However, just over a week following the op she's walking around, albeit mostly on three legs still, eating and drinking normally and reluctant to be contained.  

Nevertheless we are carrying her up the garden steps to the lawn, and when she has completed her ablutions she comes and stands at the wall to be picked up and carried back down again.  Ditto with the stairs in the house.

However, she is unmoved when I suggest that as the 'Face' of Tower House Dolls she should perhaps be easing back into her role as sleeping partner.  She assumes a pained expression and looks mournfully at her bandaged leg.  In return, I have pointed out that as her remuneration package includes a share of the notional profits she cannot expect her normal biscuit ration if she's not contributing, but this has fallen on wilfully deaf ears.

As I write she is still in bed, wrapped up in her little doggy duvet, snoring her furry head off.

No matter.... with a fair looming in just over a week I will be working throughout the weekend in order to complete everything currently on my to do list so I'd better go and get on.....

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Got smarts....

I have finally emerged, blinking, into the dawn of a brave new age of technological endeavour.

For the past (insert any number between 5 and 7) years I have been the owner of a very, VERY basic mobile phone.

No camera, no Internet, no games, no touch screen.  It just did phone calls and texts, which is what I ever needed*.

*Note the use of the past tense....

It was also supremely durable.  I read in a magazine article that the exact same basic phone  was standard issue for soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan as it was less destructible than they were.  The same article attested that the phone could be dropped out of a high building and not break.  Similarly if you dropped it down the toilet (which apparently is the fate of many phones) you could put it in the airing cupboard to dry out and it would be in perfect working order within a few hours.  Of course you might not subsequently want to place it against your face but that's wouldn't be the phone's fault. 


My old Nokia and I lived a simple but companionable life, just texting and making or receiving the occasional phone call.  A £10 top-up lasted me about 6 months.

Not that I'm Billy No-Mates or anything.  I just don't do the whole compulsive text/phone/play thing with phones.


DIDN'T do the whole.......

Because for my birthday a few weeks ago, I got a shiny new Smart Phone.

Touch screen IN COLOUR!!!, wi-fi, Internets, apps.... the works.  A whole new world was suddenly revealed to me, and just as suddenly revealed what a doofus I was, technologically speaking.

I am most certainly NOT an 'early adopter'.  You know the sort, like Stephen Fry, who immediately rushes out to buy the latest, newest, shiniest, most expensive bit of kit to be unleashed on the unsuspecting masses.

This may not make me 'hip and happening' but it does avoid me making expensive mistakes and amalgamating a horde of defunct electronic equipment.

I'll just say one word..... Betamax.  And rest my case.

However, the joy of the late adopter is just as sweet.  For the past few years I have watched the 'smart' generation plugged into their ipods and their iphones and their ipads and felt vaguely superior in an actually not very superior way.  Now that I have joined their ranks I feel a quiet rosy glow of satisfaction, knowing that I have not been gulled into the 'got to have it NOW' condition of conspicuous consumption. 

I have waited.

I have watched.

I have not followed the crowd.

However, now that I finally have a Smart Phone, it has cruelly highlighted the fact that my phone is considerably smarter than I am and that it will take me some time to come to grips with its multifarious functions.

It came pre-loaded with a plethora of apps and widgets, a few of which I now know what they do but most are a mystery.  I have tentatively downloaded a battery saver app, following the discovery that it EATS battery power.  My old trusty Nokia could go for up to 10 days without requiring a charge but this new usurper is constantly ravenous and needs to be fed every other day.  I've also downloaded a cutting edge app version of Solitaire, which I suspect might not be the zenith of app gaming but I make no apologies for being a traditionalist.

The wealth of available apps available is mind-boggling.  I could, if I had a mind to, check, minute-by-minute the catastrophic meltdown in the Eurozone.  I can see what the weather is like here (other than by looking out of the window) or indeed any location in the whole world. I can search the Internet in seconds. Send blog posts direct to Blogger from my phone, as well as keep up with my favourite blogs online. I can check the arrival/departure time of the next bus/train/plane and see if it is running on time.  I could point my phone at a plane in the sky and instantly know what airline it is, where it came from and where it's going........

I have the entire knowledge of the world at my fingertips ON MY PHONE.


What I did I download the other night and spend a full half hour completely immersed in....?


Smart Phone, dumb owner.....

Monday, 14 May 2012

Creative camaraderie......

One of the many reasons I like living here is that St. Leonards and Sea and Hastings have a thriving creative community, with people doing everything from fine art to ceramics, fabric craft to glass blowing and everything in between.

We also have an online forum, Hastings Creatives, which is a great place to go if you need help with any creative project.  So when I needed loads of brass strips cut to length recently, my first port of call was the forum, where, true to form, a number of local metalworkers were suggested, but one name kept coming up over and over.

Leigh Dyer has a studio workshop in Hastings old town, just one street back from the seafront.  He makes the most wonderful sculptures in metal, such as these.......

... and his latest work was unveiled just last month on Hastings' Winkle Island....

Here he is in his studio working on it....

Asking such an artistic creative to do something as mundane as cutting some brass strips for me took a bit of brass neck, but he very kindly agreed to help, especially when I explained that my own feeble attempts had resulted in warped, burred, twisted metal, when what I needed were lovely straight, unwarped, burr-free, untwisted strips. 

Walking up the steps to his studio you are assailed by the sharp metallic tang in air, which only slightly prepares you for the Gormenghast-style space into which you emerge, littered with the paraphernalia of working with metal... anvils, welding masks, oxyacetylene tanks and all manner of eclectic bits and bobs including a skull wearing a fez and a lizard climbing up the wall.  It's an amazing place.....

I'm sure that Hastings and St Leonards are littered with incredible studios like this.  Quite puts my workroom to shame.........

Sunday, 13 May 2012

The wanderer returns.....

I got back home today after my weekend up in London, to a rapturous reception from PP and Small Dog, who thankfully is much, much better than when I left on Friday.  She's even intermittently using the leg which was operated on, and is altogether brighter and more like her old self again, which is a huge relief.

KDF on Friday was wonderful, as always.  The standard of craftsmanship is completely amazing and it was gratifying to see collectors milling around each stand, admiring the work on display and lots of money changing hands throughout the day.

Aside from supplies for work, I did succumb to a few choice pieces which are destined for my Little Shop of Dolls and which I'll photograph and post as soon as I've unpacked properly.

In other news, the weather this weekend has been more seasonally normal.  The sun has shone from clear blue skies and my daughter and I even managed a picnic lunch in the park yesterday, which was lovely. 

However it's back to work with a vengeance tomorrow, but in the meantime I'm going to relax and enjoy the rest of the weekend.......


Thursday, 10 May 2012

In recovery...........

Small Dog has asked me to thank everyone who's sent her 'Get Well Soon' cards, e-cards and emails. 

She is still distinctly under the weather and has barely moved from her basket all day.  She can just about stagger for a few steps before her back legs buckle beneath her.  

Getting her to take her painkillers and antibiotics has been something of a challenge. We've tried concealing them in pieces of liver sausage, chicken, even ice cream which she would normally devour, but she will hardly eat or drink anything.  She did finally succumb to licking a small amount of New York cheesecake which had her antibiotic cunningly secreted inside so we're hoping that will work again when her next dose is due.

If she moves in her sleep she squeals in pain, so she's quickly learnt to keep very still.  So still that PP and I have been checking to see she's still breathing! We've been trying to encourage her to walk around from time to time but she just makes a beeline for her basket so she's definitely not feeling great and not her usual bouncy self.

I'm off up to London to go to KDF tomorrow so PP will be on nursing duty over the weekend and has promised me lots of bulletins on Small Dog's continuing convalescence.  I really hope she's up and about and more like normal very soon......

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Watching wait.......

Dropped Small Dog off this morning for her luxating patella operation.  She was very well behaved even while the vet was examining her bad leg but as we left she was trembling and pleading to come with us.
We had to ring the surgery at 3pm (10 minutes ago) to find out how she is but apparently she's still in theatre and we have to wait another hour before ringing again.

It's amazing how long each hour has felt today, and knowing that she's still having her operation will make the next hour even longer.

I've been trying to keep busy, doing one of my favourite things, dressing some little toy dolls, which has helped somewhat, but it's hard to keep my mind on task.

She's only a very small dog, but her presence normally fills the house..... today it has felt unusually empty.  No pitter patter of her claws on the tiles as she does her rounds, checking where we are and whether or not we might be having a cup of tea and a biscuit.  No little tousled head appearing round the door of the workroom, requesting I open the door to let her out into the garden.  No frantic digging in her basket as she attempts to rearrange her bedding to her liking.

It's been a very quiet, empty house today......

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Testing times.......

I've been doing my best to keep busy today so that I don't think about tomorrow and Small Dog's operation.  She is now nil by mouth and can only have water, which means she won't be able to have her bowl of dog biscuits down in the kitchen for her midnight snack.

We're all due a very early night tonight as we have an early start in the morning so Small Dog will be especially disgruntled as she's not a 'morning dog'.  

After we've dropped her off we'll be coming back home and will try to keep ourselves occupied while we await the phone call to let us know that she's in recovery and is OK.  After that there will be another few hours to wait before we can go and collect her to bring her home for lots of pampering (and painkillers).

I'm really NOT looking forward to tomorrow at all.... just thinking about it gives me a big lump in my chest.  However, after the first day or so, she will gradually return to something more like herself and we'll be able to relax a bit.


Medical bulletins will be posted throughout the day......

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Damp round the edges....

So here we are again.... another wet and windy Bank Holiday weekend.  

On Monday it's Jack-in-the-Green and also tens of thousands of bikers will descend on the town for their annual May Day bike run.   

The weather forecast does not look auspicious... rain and drizzle.  I won't bang on about how this must be the wettest drought in the history of forever, since everyone else is already doing it, but we've just had the wettest April for decades and May isn't shaping up to be any better.

No matter.

I'm going to play around with my little corner shop today and make a start on my shopping list for KDF on Friday.  My plans for that trip have been somewhat curtailed by Small Dog being referred to the specialist orthopaedic vet on Wednesday, with the likelihood that she will have surgery on her back leg on the day.

So we'll all be back to sleeping on an airbed on the sitting room floor for a while, until she's able to cope with getting around properly again.  Poor wee thing.  She's only just got all her leg fur back from the last operation last November.  Hopefully she will make as rapid a recovery as last time and within a month or so she'll be as good as new.  The first few days though will be traumatic...I'm trying not to worry about it.



Friday, 4 May 2012

Stress fractures.......

Thank goodness it's Friday.  This week has passed at a glacial speed and has been jam-packed with stress, worry and free-floating anxiety.

Stress and MS are not happy bedfellows.  If I had a pound for every time my MS nurse, or other health professional has said that I should avoid stress wherever possible I'd have more than enough money to bugger off to the Bahamas for a fortnight and to hell with the consequences.

In normal circumstances, stress can cause a wide range of physiological symptoms, but add MS into the mix and you have a catalytic reaction with explosive results.  In my case these include a complete inability to sleep (whereas usually I could sleep for Scotland) a thousand-fold increase in horribly disturbing sensory feelings and sky-high levels of neuropathic pain.  This is why I try, as much as possible, to maintain a fairly sanguine attitude to life and stay on an even keel, worry-wise.

This week though has been a doozer.  

Here are just a few examples of my worries which are fit to print. 

In no particular order.

There's a whole humongous raft of domestic/financial/house/work worries afoot at the moment.  The DVLA requested my driving licence for my three yearly 'fitness to drive' assessment way back in February and still haven't made a decision about whether I'm going to get it back/renewed.  Also there's something wrong with our car, which is only 1 month out of warranty, so it has to be (expensively) looked at next week.  Then, Small Dog has taken to hobbling on her other back leg.  The one which wasn't operated on in November last year.  According to her vet, she's almost certainly got to have the previously not bad leg operated on.


Not to mention a barrel-load of other, more minor worries, which are in the 'final straw' category.

I felt so bad the other day that PP suggested I write down all my worries so that I could put them into proportion.  After I'd filled a whole side of A4 I began to realise that simply writing them down wouldn't be enough.
So I divided the list into 

  • Worries I can do something about
  • Worries I can't do anything about
This helped marginally, in that I could see that the things I can't do anything about was about the same length as the things I can do something about.

But then I got stuck.  Transfixed by the scale of the problems.

Of course there are excellent resources on the interweb, like this one, which makes perfect sense when you read it, and makes you feel better for a little while, until the worries start wriggling around in your brain again, unsettling you and making you doubt your coping strategies.

Then PP suggested that I take advantage of a new service on Facebook.... the World-Wide Worry Box, the premise of which is that you write down all your worries, seal them in an envelope, then post it off to Worthing (?!)  When the worry lady gets your envelope she then puts it in her worry box (unopened) and when the box is full she burns all the envelopes ...."and all those worries inside will become ash and blow away!!!!"


I think I can see one or two flaws in this hypothesis, but I'm an open-minded individual so I visited her Facebook page to find out more.

This is where I was, temporarily at least, distracted from worrying about my worries.  

The worry box is indeed, a box.   It's brightly coloured and looks like a good place to put your worries.

Except it has a cow's head.  Well I think it's a cow.  It could be a goat.

Or a sheep.

No.... I'm pretty sure it's a cow.  

Anyway, the point is, the cow looks a bit depressed.  It's something to do with the position of its ears.  I became so engrossed in worrying about the cow that I completely forgot to worry about my worries. 

But worries are slippery little buggers.
They breed.  In your head.  You go to bed with 4 worries and wake up with 10.
They grow exponentially.... especially if you worry about them.

Until you get to the point where they either devour you, or you have to make a stand and vanquish them.

By fair means or foul......

Incidentally, Small Dog has a zero tolerance worry policy.  As those who know her well will attest, her mantra is "So Don't Worry".  But you have to say it just right.  There is full emphasis is on the "Don't".

I should just 'man up' and embrace Small Dog's guiding principle with regard to worry.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

May Kit of the Month....

I honestly didn't think we'd be able to do it today but with just a few hours to spare we're pleased to announce our May Kit of the Month.....

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 The pram and baby kits are available separately, or both together at a saving of £2.00.

Full details are on our website HERE.

As before we will be offering exclusive access to a full length video tutorial for the pram, as well as an optional online Q&A session towards the end of the month. 

I think I might be getting the hang of this......

The final straw.........

In tune with my socialist leanings, I'm normally in favour of state-owned companies and organisations, which despite their (sometimes many) failings, usually have their hearts in the right place.  However my generosity of spirit has been strained to breaking point this week with the latest Post Office mail increases.

I can absolutely understand that it takes some doing to get a package from Land's End to John O'Groats for the same cost as sending a package from two towns 20 miles apart, and consider that in many respects we have a postal service second to none in the world.


And this is a big HOWEVER, the new postal prices beggar belief.

From yesterday, any packet weighing up to 750grams will cost a flat rate of £2.70 to travel First Class.  Last week I was able to send the majority of my packets (which are almost always 250g or less) for £1.58.  That an increase of almost 71%!!!

A few years back, before Royal Mail abandoned charging purely by weight, and switched to a combination of size and weight,  that same package used to cost 36 pence!  Even allowing for the interim inflation that's a whopping increase over just a few years of 650%

Our miniatures weigh very little, but they are generally fairly fragile, so simply popping them in a jiffy bag and hoping for the best just isn't feasible.  If they aren't in kit form before they go off, they almost certainly will be in kit form by the time they're delivered.  So we take great care with our packaging and have the added expense of buying in strong, protective postal boxes, in various sizes, as well as packaging materials - tissue paper, bubble wrap, parcel tapes etc, all of which have been rising in price in recent years.

Then there are the costs of actually getting to the Post Office, which for us is a 6 mile round trip by car.  With fuel costs spirally upwards we no longer pop to the Post Office every day and instead make the journey once, or at most twice a week.

There is also the incredible anomaly that it often costs less for me to post a package to San Francisco, halfway round the world, than it does to send a similar package to Eastbourne, 20 miles along the road.

Crazy doesn't come close.....

For the past 3 years our postage and packing charges to our customers have remained static and we've absorbed the price rises in postage and packaging materials.  However yesterday's rise was a step too far, and we simply can't afford to do so any longer.  Therefore we have reluctantly raised our P&P charges by £1 to UK addresses, and £0.50 to International addresses.

These UK rates are for First Class post, but if required we can also offer Second Class post by arrangement.  Not that it seems to make much difference to the speed with which packages are delivered.  As I discovered this morning when I went online to check that a valuable insured package, which I had posted on Friday, using 'guaranteed' Saturday delivery, and which cost an eye-watering £11.10, had actually been delivered on Saturday.


No, it hadn't.  It had been delivered yesterday, at 11.13 in the morning.  That's a full 24 hours late allowing for the fact that there are no Sunday deliveries.

This was the final straw.  This morning it has taken me over an hour trawling through the Royal Mail's labyrinthine website, trying to find out how to claim back the cost of the failed 'on time' delivery.  They don't make it easy, assuming perhaps that most people will eventually shrug, give up and move on.  However my hackles were well and truly up, so I persevered and eventually managed to find the correct 2 page form, which I then had to print out using my own paper and printer ink (needless to say, both forms featured several big, black, printed blocks), fill in by hand and post back to them, along with proof of posting, receipts etc.

What a bloody palaver.

I'm also going to condense the contents of this blog post and include it in a covering letter.

Signed with my blood.