Thursday, June 23, 2016

Frannie's "Working Week"

My weeks have settled into a more or less stable pattern.

Wednesday is Day One of Frannie's "working week".  Pretty much every Wednesday we head into Chesterfield, visit the estate agent, drop into the library, do any errands and shopping that need attending to.  Usually we go on the bus.  Sometimes we meet Tabitha for lunch. We really ought to move it to Mondays, which is a market day, but we don't really need the market so haven't bothered.

This week the pattern was slightly disrupted because The Builder decided that he had finally had enough of his persistent cough, itchy rash and hot flushes and took himself off to the doctor.  She diagnosed a probable chest infection and sent him off to the hospital for a chest X-ray, plus other tests.  So I went in on the bus on my own and had a sunny potter about, while The Builder was at the hospital, and then at the vet, for some medication for Marlo.

Thursday is Pot Luck Pantry day in Sheffield, and Day Two of Frannie's "working week".  I have taken to going in on the X17. Our car is beginning to show signs of its age and mileage and I would really like it to last for the next 7 weeks.  Also, if I go on the bus, there is no need to worry about where to park. There isn't a lot of parking around Regather.  I usually finish at about 2, then do any Sheffield based jobs that are waiting for me.  Last week I met Freyja for a cuppa and then went to pick up the newly refurbished laptop. This week I must remember to pick up the iPad, which wasn't ready last week. I need to drop into the Chesterfield library to print out some forms that we need for the house sale.  Plus, of course, I absolutely must remember to drop by the village hall on my way home to vote in today's referendum.

Friday is the mid-point of Frannie's "working week" and is Food Bank Day. Last week I was mostly in the kitchen making cups of tea and coffee for the volunteers and clients. We have a little team who usually do the teas and coffees but none of them was available last week.  I quite enjoyed it - although I noticed that my recent food safety studies meant I was very careful about things I didn't used to notice!!!  (Aaaaargh!!  I've just wiped that bench down and you've put biscuit crumbs all over it!!!!!!!)

Saturday is a day off.  I usually give the house a quick clean up and tidy and otherwise more or less go with the flow.  Last Saturday Tabitha, Gareth, Cally and Flynn came round in the late afternoon, partly because they were going to Matlock Bath early-ish on the Sunday morning for a day at Gulliver's Kingdom and we are within easy striking distance of Matlock Bath. Also, because I wanted to give my hot grill stone another try.  It hadn't worked particularly well the first time I tried it and I wanted to see if I had learned anything from that.  Absolutely not! It worked even less well and  I resorted to cooking things on my trusty griddle.  The griddle is definitely going to Australia with me.  The hot grill stone almost certainly not.

Sunday is Day Five of Frannie's "working week" and is another Pot Luck Pantry day.  Usually The Builder comes with me, but his hacking cough has kept him away for a couple of weeks. I can't go on the bus on Sundays.  They don't run often enough or at the right times for me. So after I have had my regular chat with my parents I hop in the car and nurse it along to Sheffield. I wondered how busy we would be last Sunday.  It was Fathers' Day in the UK and we didn't get the usual rush of regulars at 12:30 when we start the lunch service.  However, things picked up as lunchtime progressed and in the end we were quite busy.  While we were about it, we ran a little fruit and veg stall to shift the positive mountain of produce we had sitting about in the store room.  Everything was on a Pay as You Feel basis and we made a decent enough amount for the day. I have to say that I was slightly on the tired side when I got home. I have developed a huge respect for people who work in catering on a full time basis!

So Monday and Tuesday have become become my weekend. Sometimes we head into Chesterfield.  Sometimes we go out.  Sometimes we go shopping. Or we stay at home and potter in the garden, or potter in the house, or do nothing at all.

I was a bit worried when I left SHU that the weeks were stretching ahead of me in an alarmingly empty sort of way.  They seem to have filled themselves up quite nicely.  There are seven weeks to go before we leave Tupton for a weekend in London, follow by a week in Japan en route for Melbourne. I have a feeling those weeks might vanish at great speed!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Mostly eating and playing with food

We seem to have done quite a lot of eating recently.  Plus, of course, I have been out at the Pot Luck Pantry.

I went last Thursday and got to be sous chef to your really, properly professional chef.  That was a really good experience.  I went in on Sunday for a few hours because they were very short and got to play sous chef to one of the founders.  That was an interesting experience too.  Today, alarmingly, I am the senior chef for the first couple of hours, until another of the founders comes in at midday!  I hope there are some useful ingredients waiting to be turned into lunch!!!

I must remember, too, to drop up to the Mac Repair shop near the Hallam Main Building after finishing at the Pot Luck Pantry today.  The Builder's (newish :-S ) tablet has been showing distinct signs that its screen isn't happy, plus his laptop is absolutely positively on its last legs.  So I took the tablet in for medical assistance, and I took my old laptop in for refurbishment.  They should be waiting for me to collect them this afternoon.

Monday was Tabitha's birthday so we trundled in to Sheffield for dinner at Swanky Frank's.  It was a good evening

Cally and her magnificent chocolate milkshake

I think Flynn rather fancies it!

Yesterday was our increasingly regular Wednesday trip into Chesterfield. I had a number of errands to run and then we were meeting Tabitha and Flynn for lunch.  The errands took much less time than we had anticipated, and it was raining, so pottering around the shops didn't really appeal.  So we called into the library - and found a coffee shop!  Coffee and toasted teacakes, sat inside while watching the rain through the window was a very delightful way and wiling away an hour or so.  It did mean that we weren't absolutely hungry at lunchtime though!

There still isn't much movement on the whole selling of the house front.  We had a conversation with our estate agent yesterday and have decided to put it up for auction at the beginning of August.  Obviously, if any of you (or anyone else for that matter) decides you want to buy it before then we can sell it to you.  But a national auction house might draw more attention to our beautiful house than we are getting at the moment

Mostly, last week, I was working on this:

I've just started on the Level 3 course now.  Might as well get the certificates as well as the experience - just in case I ever want to work in a cafe :-)

Monday, June 06, 2016

Sunday ...

... was a beautiful day. A real taste of summer.  So Tabitha, Gareth, Cally, Flynn, The Builder and I took advantage of the warmth and the sunshine to head out for a pre-lunch stroll around the wetlands and the nature trail

I had to be a bit careful of my dodgy calf muscle and my back, and The Builder had to be a bit careful of his cough and his sore throat.  Otherwise it was a lovely walk.  Tabitha and I followed the path down by the baby River Rother.  The Builder, Gareth, Cally (on her bike) and Flynn (in his carrier) went along the top path, which is wheel-friendly.  We all met up by the railway bridge and came back on the other side of the railway, past the bird watching hides and across the barley field (where there is a footpath - we didn't just rampage through the crops!!).

I haven't been down that side of the nature trail since the Rugby Club put up its new club house with parking and stuff.  We've only been walking up and down on the Grassmoor side of the railway line.  We certainly didn't know that there was a new playing park.  Cally spotted it immediately!

We also took advantage of the warmth and the sunshine to play outside in the garden.

The Builder put up the sun umbrellas on the patio and we sat outside to have our roast chicken lunch.

All in all, it was a lovely day.

Oh - and Flynn has learnt to roll over unaided

The best laid plans ...

Freyja and I arrived at Regather as planned at half past ten or so, ready to help paint the Pot Luck Pantry.  There were three of us, with another couple of volunteers due a bit later. I was planning to stay for an hour or so.  I had other things I could usefully be doing and we were expecting Tabitha, Gareth, Cally and Flynn later in the afternoon.  But if everyone who could did an hour or so, it wasn't going to take all that long to paint what was effectively just one room.

Ready for decorating

Where shall we start

Then Rene arrived from collecting the morning's pick up from one of the supermarket delivery franchises.

"Change of plan," he said. "There's a bit of a crisis. The delivery franchise has had a fridge failure and all of this morning's deliveries are coming here. There are about 200 crates.  I've brought about 50 on this run!"


No painting for us, then.

The first haul.  There's LOTS more to come
Freyja, Johnny and I stopped what we were doing, made room for the crates and set about helping Rene to bring the crates in from the van.  Alas, as I was bounding up the ramp into the cafe with a crate, I felt my calf muscle go ;-(  I have once before, about 15 years ago, torn that calf muscle in about that place.  I definitely didn't want to do that again, so I stopped hauling crates about and began, in a limping sort of a way, sorting through what had come in.

Rene went off back to the delivery place to pick up the next lot.  Freyja sent out an SOS to the Real Junk Food Sheffield volunteers. "Please come and help if you can.  Bring cool bags and shopping bags. Please take home anything that you think you can use. "

Johnny and I, then with Freyja made solid progress with sorting out the crates.

More volunteers turned ups.  More crates turned up.  Passers by stopped to see what we were doing.  We were surrounded by meat and fruit and vegetables and milk and cheese and cleaning products and fruit juice and toilet paper and bread and pet food and absolutely all the things that people order in their online supermarket shopping.

More volunteers have turned up

But so have lots more crates
It's really quite disturbing to think that, were it not for the existence of the Real Junk Food Project and other organisations very like it, absolutely all of this would have been taken to landfill, even the things that didn't need to be refrigerated.  It is  considerably cheaper to junk it all and start again than it is to sort through all the deliveries and take out the perishable goods and deliver replacements separately, later.  As it was, the volunteers sorted through it all, weighed it all, took what they felt they could use - and then put the rest out for passers by to pick up and take for their own use.  They were invited to pay what they felt the "shopping" was worth, or what they could afford to pay for it.  It's not free food (the Project has expenses to cover) but it can certainly be cheap food.

I went home at about 1:45.  My back was beginning to protest and my pulled calf muscle was definitely not happy
This is how it looked when I left

Other volunteers, and Freyja, stayed on until the early evening.  By 6pm they had shifted everything but this

Freyja's photo

and taken a little over £550 in Pay as you Feel contributions.

The pick up from the delivery company on Sunday wasn't anything as humungous as Saturday's.  A mere one van full.  More than you would be expecting, though.  There are usually just a handful of crates to deal with, not van loads!

The cafe still isn't painted, alas.

Saturday, June 04, 2016

A busy few days

The Builder and I ambled into Chesterfield on Thursday and headed to Strada to see what, if anything, they are doing about the selling of our house.  Normally we go in and harass them on Wednesdays, but we were meeting Tabitha, Cally and Flynn at lunchtime on Thursday and figured we could combine the two activities.  One of the estate agents has arranged to come on Monday morning to take some new, summery photos of the house. We had a lengthy conversation about why the house might not be generating much interest. I came away a bit less tetchy. But only a bit :-D

In the meantime, Tabitha, Cally and Flynn had arrived and had taken themselves to Queen's Park to wait for us to escape from the clutches of Strada.  When we got there, they were waiting patiently for me to join Tabitha and Cally on the little train that was running around the park

It isn't really a steam engine.  I think it is powered by fossil fuel
The Builder got to wait with Flynn who was sleeping peacefully in his pram.  But Cally, Tabitha and I had a lovely ride

Then we went off to play

Concentrating hard

A Sand Fairy

I don't know.  Every time I go for a lovely nap, I wake up somewhere else!

We had lunch in the Rutland, by the church

Then we ambled over to the museum, where they were doing demonstrations of spinning, ragging and French knitting. Cally had a spinning lesson, and she learnt the art of French knitting, plus how to make rag rugs and how to weave little mats.  We have brought some samples home with us so we can practise with her.  If we can remember how today of it :-D

It was a good day.  We enjoyed it a lot.

Yesterday we went to the Food Bank again.  There were even fewer volunteers than there had been last week.  And lots and lots and lots of clients.  It was Very Busy Indeed and we were quite tired when we got back home.  It was good, though.  We enjoy it a lot.  It's good to be doing useful things, of course, and the people who volunteer there are all friendly folks who are pleased to meet new people.

And now I must away.  I am off into Sheffield to help with the final burst of painting at the Pot Luck Pantry.  They've been renovating it for a couple of weeks and it needs one more coat of paint before the decorations, furniture and fittings can go in.  The Builder was going to come too but he has come down with a rather unpleasant cold.  He is going to stay at home to rest and recuperate - so I have pinched his painting t-shirt :-)