Due a rest!

My word these weeks roll by, its one of the side effects of working 7 days a week you end up having no idea what day it is or what a weekend off feels like..

I had an amazing reaction to lasts weeks entry for which I am very grateful. I did however have a very funny message. I quite often receive messages regarding my blog, this one however still makes me laugh even a week later. Last weeks entry was by far my most serious and most thought through blog to date. Not because I wanted to write some master piece it was just I was concerned how it would be perceived. So I actually went to the effort of reading my post after writing it. Something I never do much to my wife's utter dismay and then constant correction of my spellings and grammar. The first person on our facebook page that corrected my spelling, aka the spelling police, got banned. Ive tried banning her indoors but as everyone knows she is the boss!! Any way I've gone way off track, I wrote and posted my serious blog entry, recieved some lovely feedback from people that have been in a similar position, then I received a private message. The message was from a freelance writer offering to write my blog for me... I had no idea how to take it, part of me was bloody fuming but then as I'm not taking this seriously I could'nt stop laughing. I shared the message with friends who also thought it was hilarious. Now correct me if I'm wrong but surely a blog has to be written by the person who's blog it is?? Otherwise its not then your blog....I did reply to the message saying that I only write this as a record of our journey and something for us to look back on. The freelance writer did reply saying that they had taken a look at this blog and it was okay...okay??? Whats that supposed to mean, are they like the blog police or something? Like I said im still chuckling about it now and the irony of it is they have given me something extra to write about, so thank you my personal blog police officer.

It must of been a week for internet stuff because my friend who owns his own gas and plumbing business came to see me and I gave him a bottle of the Naga Toffee Vodka as he loves stuff like that. He then took it back to work to see his lads who I have to add had finished for the day, he poured a tiny amount into a cap and tricked someone into trying it. Of course they had no idea how hot it was and ran off cursing and spluttering, I found it funny and harmless so re-shared the video on our page. We then started getting a couple of comments slating him and saying he is unprofessional etc etc Almost like they were drunk engineers working on gas...someone said he was drink driving even though he didn't even have any.. I was watching this unfold and couldn't believe what was happening. I ended up banning one of the people. Someone even went on to say its a poor advertisement for my product. Now if anyone has met me at a show and asked me whats the Naga Toffee Vodka like I reply with "bloody awful" "I've ruined a perfectly good Toffee Vodka". Then people say but can I try it..some people love it and some people start nearly crying with the heat. I am one of those that whimper etc hence I think its bloody awful. So the idea of me trying to use that to advertise my "bloody awful" product is mad. I simply found the video funny and wanted to share it. Thankfully lots of people commented on the video that it was fun and harmless etc etc

I had one show at the weekend, a three day one at Hardwick Hall, it was a pretty good event made even better by the very kind hospitality of my friends Mick and Tracey who live nearby and put me up for the weekend. I was spoilt rotten and had breakfast made for me each morning, I'm hoping the Mr's reads this and then decides to make me breakfast in the morning...

We have a busy week this week and then I actually have a weekend off....

Ill keep you updated next week of my drunken antics that I'm planning....

 

 

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I can be serious

Well guess who was naughty and didn't write their blog last week...

 It's easy to use the excuse too busy, not enough time etc etc I'm a big believer that if you really want to do something you make the time to do it. So on those grounds I clearly didn't really want to write a blog last week. I know the reason and it was mainly because what I wanted to say was not a funny read, it was quite a serious post for me so I bottled it and didn't post one.  I'll explain...

We have had a couple of great weekends at shows, both Easter weekend and last weekend. Easter weekend I was at a horse show for part of it, some friends came down and helped me on both the Thursday and the Saturday. On the Friday I was on my own just reflecting on where we currently are, (whilst writing this it has only just dawned on me the date, it's exactly 1 year to the day I was in a dark place and was starting this new journey), I realised that this was the happiest I had felt for a very long time. I actually rang my Mrs and said I don't want things to grow, I don't want to chase a dream and try and be big, I want to stay as we are. She was probably rolling her eyes at me and thinking what's he going on about now! We have some exciting plans that are nearly finished which I do want, but what dawned on me was we had very little hassle. My phone was not ringing with numerous problems for me to sort out, or having the awful dread of checking your emails to see what shit was coming your way. I felt like the luckiest man alive at the moment in time.  

One of the challenges for us is to carry on doing what we love doing and not get caught in the trap of wanting to get too big which ends up taking you away from what you love doing. I think if I had to experience groundhog day I would want it to be that Friday so I could feel that inner calm and contentment that I felt that day. 

I went to another show Easter Sunday and in the evening went out with some friends for a curry, I was talking to them about it and everyone round the table had experienced the same problems in business which is caused by growing and getting big so they understand where I was coming from. 

Maybe it's just me getting older, I don't know, but now writing this I'm sure it's largely down to the significance of the date. It's also absolutely nothing to do with money either, I hate dealing with money. I detest greed and the problems that money brings.

Last week was manic being a short week and also having to leave on Thursday for Preston. Bugger me that's a long drive. I didn't realise I was only 20 miles from Blackpool..if I wasn't on my own I could of had a wild night out there, instead of my usual boring early night in a hotel. Oh and guess what knobhead forgot most of their clothes and only noticed when they got there. I found some shops and sorted myself out, see I'm managing to make my own problems for myself..what's that all about! I have to say my wife is not a fan of what I picked for myself..oh well she should of packed for me. 

I didn't post this last week because I didn't want people to think I'm showing off or anything like that, I'm not at all, I think there will be many challenges around the corner for me to deal with, but like I said, on that day I was the happiest I have felt for a very very long time and forgive the pun but I wish I could bottle that feeling! 

Gone Fishing.....

Now that was a fun week...

We had a pretty busy week getting ready for some weekend shows. Now back after the Shooting Show in February I had the brainwave that because lots men at the show purchased our bottles to take home after the show as a 'guilty' gift, here darling I have bought you some Toffee Vodka, whilst hiding the hundreds of pounds worth of toys and gadgets they have treated themselves, I would look for similar shows. The funny thing about the guilty gift is I have also done shows that are mainly women and they also do the same. This makes me very wary if my Mrs has been out shopping and bought me a pair of socks...

Anyway, i found a very large fishing show for this last weekend. I thought I would apply the same logic as the shooting show. When I contacted them I was pleased I managed to acquire a stand, upon checking I was the only non fishing stand. This could go horribly wrong or be amazing. I managed to convince my friend who has a fudge stand to also play show roulette with me and he also booked a stand. 

It was a two day show but as it was so far away I went down on the Friday and set up. I got a lot of strange looks from the other stall holders whilst I was wheeling my bottles in. I set up and went to chill in the hotel.

The following morning I was ready to go, it was the first show we had our new Chocolate Vodka at. I was very interested to see how it went, we had alot of good feedback from family and friends who all helped us decide which formulation to go with, but even so there is nothing quite like sampling a new untested product with the great British public.

The show opened at 8.30am and at 8.45 I had my first person come along who was willing to try something. They picked the Chocolate vodka to try, oh well here goes, and guess what...BOOOMM they purchased a bottle just like that. Happy Happy Days. All credit has to go to my wife who developed it herself, something I had tried and failed to do for years...

I ended up having a really good first day, the morning was steady but the afternoon really took off. Lots of guys were coming back to see me to buy something to take home for the Wife. I was feeling pretty good at this point. We were due a good show and days like this make you feel on top of the world. 

I sat in my hotel on the Saturday night eating my Fish and Chips and drinking a can of warm beer a very happy man. 

Sunday started at the show much slower in terms of sales but I thought to myself just be patient, and again similar to the Saturday the afternoon really took off. It was also helped by the fact there was more couples on the Saturday. So for once my gamble paid off and we had a really really good weekend.

What was also funny at the Fishing show was some of the exchanges I had with customers, a couple of them Ill share here..

Me : Hi, would you like to try something??

Man : yes, Ill try the raspberry one,

Me: Ok, which one? I have a Gin based one and a Vodka based one

Man: Mmm, I dont like Gin, Ill try the Gin one.

Me: (In my head..WTF), are you sure? You dont like Gin...

Man; Yes the Gin one

I pour a Gin samples, he shakes his head and mutters he dose not like gin then downs the sample...

Im stood like a right knob waiting for his response and guess what he said...Naah don't like that!

Another exchange that made me laugh was a man with his son, the son was around 20, was looking very closely at the Toffee Vodka. Sometimes I speak straight away and sometimes I hang back a little. I never want to appear pushy. The man was looking for quite a while, seemed like a long time but was probably 45 seconds. The son was looking at his dad for most of this time. I then decided to ask if he would like to try the Toffee Vodka. The man looked up at me and said no, I don't drink vodka. The son looked at me then looked at his dad and said what i and everyone else around him was thinking, "why the hell are you looking at it then??" at this point I couldn't help but laugh, the Dad then replied I don't know and walked off with his son laughing at him.

These little exchanges really do make you laugh, they are much better than the rude obnoxious ones that you have to endure. I prefer to focus on these ones and the hundreds of pleasant nice people that we meet throughout the year.

This should be a busy week as we have Easter ahead of us!

 

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Daughters Logic

These weeks are simply flying by. It only just dawned on me that it's Tuesday and I hadn't wrote my blog.

We had no shows last week so we spent the time getting prepared for the next few weeks which are quite intense, especially with Easter coming. 

On the Monday I took my wife and eldest daughter out for a cooked breakfast, I love these moments, it gives us a little bit of time to relax and just talk. My daughter came out with a classic, we were discussing the new fines for using your phone whilst driving. It's done me good as I have been guilty of this but recently I have hid my phone so I can't see it . I asked my daughter if she used hers whilst driving. This was her response, no I make sure no one taller than me is around while it's on my lap! I nearly choked on my toast, so her logic is it's OK unless someone taller than her who can see in the car is around. If anyone could possibly explain that to me I would be very grateful.

We were slowly getting the results in for the chocolate vodka tasting and nearly everyone went for A. Except me, I preferred B. Now the old me would of ignored everyone else and gone with my preference but as I'm this new version of myself I went with A. It must be my age as I appear to be changing.... 

Thursday was a tough day because daughter number 2, aka middle child had a school trip to Florence, Italy. It involved me setting my alarm for 1.15am to drive her to Kings Lynn for the bus to depart at 2.15am...who on earth decided that would be a good idea!! Thursday turned into a very long day. The things we do for our kids.

 The weekend saw our launch of the Chocolate Vodka. We decided to launch it with another Facebook competition. Again I asked friends if I should give 12 bottles to one person or 1 bottle to 12 people and I listened (have no idea what's happening to me, I'll be doing the housework next!!) so we are giving 12 people a bottle. I put the post up around 7pm and boom the world has gone crazy again. We literally sat watching the comments come flooding in. At one point my phone app crashed as it couldn't refresh quick enough. I have to say I am extremely grateful for the support and response we receive and I do not take it for granted. On that note, from me and my knobby eldest daughter have a great week. 

 

 

 

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My name is Flo and I like sleeping

And we're off!

What a week last week was, we started the week processing lots of Mothers Day hamper orders. We set last Sunday as the last day to order and it seems people like to leave things to the last minute. I know I do!

This weekend saw the first weekend of the year where we had three shows. Two of which were three day ones. We had to wait for our bottles to be delivered on Wednesday so we prepared everything ready to start as soon as they arrived. Luckily for is they arrived at midday, great stuff, this would take the pressure off Thursday. I unloaded the pallet and then noticed the box of corks was missing. Pants. This was not good, I called the supplier who fobbed me off that they would be coming seperatly. I knew they were making it up and this was confirmed when they called back to say they forgot to put them on the pallet and they were in a warehouse in Sudbury. A quick check of google maps told me it was a 3hr round trip, great, so much for getting ahead. So off I set...

90 minutes later I arrived at the warehouse to meet a high vis wearing smirking beep beep beep. He simply gave me the box, told me I had had a long drive and sent me on my way..that's customer service for you. 

So instead of being ahead we started around 4pm and worked as late as we could.  

We had a good day Thursday finishing off the bottling and then spent the afternoon sorting everyone's stock and show things up.  

I had a very early start (3.30) on the Friday so I could get up to Harrogate for 7 to set the stand up before the show started at 9. I had a great journey up, arrived at the Yorkshire Showground 7.15 to be met with locked gates. I waited a few minutes then called the mobile number they gave us, the man on the other end informed me they don't open the gates until 8! What the hell, I could of had another hours sleep. I finally got set up and then proceeded to stuff my face with all the snacks I took with me. When you are at a quiet show it's hard not to just keep eating. The show was quite quiet but was made easier by the lovely couple next to me. They did make me laugh, Paul said to me at one point, How did you manage to get ice in here? I was confused by this, so he repeated it, I said I bought it at Sainsbury's, it didn't dawn on him you can buy ice! I ribbed him all weekend over that one.

I had one memorable non customer, a lady asked to try our Toffee Vodka, I poured her some and watched her drink it, she was making all the right noises then told me how much she loved it, she then said these words "I can't buy it because I will drink it". We then had a tumbleweed moment because I had no idea what to say... 

Overall we had a good weekend and was nice to enjoy some sunshine. A big thank you to Chloe and Sam for doing their first show and bossing it!

Here's looking forward to the week ahead. 

 

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Flo checking stock

The Sun is shining

We had our first bit of sunshine last week and doesn't it make you feel great! Don't get me wrong I enjoy winter as I don't really feel the cold but lighter evenings are so much better.

I was being a builder for most of the week, I had a carpenter coming on Friday to put the floor down so my job was to drill and bolt large bits of wood to the floor beams to strengthen them. This meant I had to use a power tool, or what is more commonly known as 'a drill'. I don't have a very good history of power tools, or in fact any form of DIY. From the time I managed to get a size 11 foot into a pot of gloss paint, not notice and then walk throughout the house, to the time I had to put a loo roll holder on the wall and put my drill down onto the newly laid carpet, not realising how hot the bit gets and burnt a hole in the carpet. However I managed to drill all the holes and bolt the beams together. The only minor drama was ripping the crutch of my jeans on a rogue nail and having to endure a breezy day down there.  

I had a good day working with Nick the carpenter, he is very good and very patient. I even had a go with his nail gun! If this all goes wrong I asked him if I could be his apprentice, he didn't need to answer as his face said it all. Oh well, best make this work...

 We had a new farmers market to try on Saturday, both the wife and I decided to do it so we know the set up etc for future markets. This meant us both getting up at 5am, this is fine for me as I get up at 5 every day, my wife bless her is not a morning person. I did the smart thing and kept out her way whilst getting ready. We arrived at 7.30 as instructed to, it looked OK, a few stalls already set up. I found the man in high vis who told us where to set up our gazebo, again we managed to set it up without any dramas or cry's of divorce. Right opposite was a little cafe, serving breakfast, result we could sit by the window having a cooked breakfast and watch the stall, and that's what we did. The market was only on from 9am to 1pm but my word did the morning drag, our positivity and optimism was soon gone. Instead our morning was spent trying to say hello to people who look petrified when we spoke to them or we were trying to not make eye contact and ignoring some very odd people. Now I'm not what you would consider normal but blimey the people who were out were very strange. To prove my point this is a conversation I had, 

Me: Hello, would you like to try something?

Lady: No thank you, I used to be a teacher.. 

Me: oh, OK ....that must of been a tough job

Lady: it was in London, I could tell you some stories!

Me: Oh..ok..(I only said hello!)

Lady: In my first year of teaching a first year child was murdered and buried in the churchyard.

Me: (no idea what to say or what is currently happening..I only said hello)

Lady: In my final year of teaching the school secretary was decapitated!

Me: Speechless (help...get me out of here)

So you see when doing shows you do meet all sorts of people, after that brief but memorable exchange I decided to stop saying hello to anyone for the rest of the show. We packed up at 1pm and got out of there. Not before I bought the Mrs some flowers from the stall next door. He did me a traders deal, 3 bunches of daffodils for £1..bargain, and she loved them, in fact she was speechless.

We had a full house for the weekend as two of my daughters had their boyfriends staying over. I heard a commotion in the kitchen which turned out was my wife had tricked George into trying a dog treat which we bought from the show, turned out it contained pigs heart and liver. I thought it was the dads who were supposed to wind the boyfriends up! 

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Lots of laughter

 Last week was all about housekeeping, especially the early part of the week. Booking up more shows, which takes a lot of your time not to mention just how much money you have to pay out months and months in advance.  That's the nature of the show seen. 

We had good and bad news, the good was we have been accepted into a very large four week Christmas show. The bad news was we are not at Badminton this year. This is due to them not allowing our type of products in the marque we usually go in. Hey ho, you can't win them all. 

The week went by pretty quickly as Friday I was off with some friends to a fitness fiesta weekend. It was held on a Pontins holiday park, Camber Sands. Off we set armed with lots off gym gear, fancy dress outfit and tons of pot noodles. 

We arrived Friday afternoon, checked in to our chalet, cracked open a beer then decided to do our first session. Hydrojump, which was trampolining in a swimming pool. Guess who forgot their swimming shorts and towel...my friend Paul lent me some swimming trunks and I had to use a hand towel. When we got to the pool we were the only men, there was no way I was taking my shorts off to reveal the little swimming trunks..especially with my two friends ripping it out of me. So I kept my shorts on and off we went. The three of us were at the back of the class, bouncing away, totally out of sync with the rest if the group. We had a great laugh in the water and the instructor didn't acknowledge us once...we enjoyed it though. 

We quickly got dressed etc then went off to the pub for a quick pint.. fast forward several hours and we were still there. Several hours later we were in the nightclub having a right laugh.  

Saturday morning I had my first class at 9.45 so wasn't too bad, it got rid of the fuzzy head and set us up for the day. Felt a little tired after lunch so we decided to have a quick beer before the next class. Seemed a good idea at the time...wasn't such a good idea during the next class but got through it. 

The Saturday night was fancy dress and the theme was song titles. We chose to go as the 118 runners, Keep on Running being the song. We got dressed up and then we were off. Running to the pub, running in the pub and in the club. At one point a group of ladies dressed as nuns asked us to join them, that was quite surreal. We politely declined as the ladies in our group were due to arrive. We had a great night with lots of laughter and finally crashed in bed near 2am. That was two nights on the trot out partying plus lots of exercise..not done anything like that for years..got home mid afternoon Sunday to be treated to a delicious roast dinner cooked by my wife and then crashed infront of the telly. Back to work this week, being a builder plus a new farmers market. 

 

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Say no more.. 

 

 

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Seagull trying to get in

Bob the builder

I had a physically hard week last week. I have a new level of respect for tradesmen. We have a very exciting project on the go for the business which requires some building work.

We had a structural engineer tell us we needed to strengthen the floor which involved a large concrete slab and additional wooden beams. This meant that Wednesday and Thursday I had to spend the day ripping up floors armed with only a crowbar and a sledgehammer..I consider myself reasonably fit but my word doing that type of work all day killed my hands wrists and forearms. Not to mention the endless cuts and scrapes I have on both hands. My delicate baby soft hands are no more...I even managed to hit my left hand with the hammer, missing the crowbar by miles.. That still hurts now.

On Thursday we had Storm Doris hit, my word was that windy. I was busy hitting stuff and breaking things up when I spoke to the Mrs around lunchtime. Whilst on the phone she shouted the car porch had just blown off. In my new tradesman state of mind I rushed home with the intention of sorting it out. When I got home the wind was blowing the semi attached roof all over the place. I had left my electric drill screwdriver thingy at the site so armed with a handful of screws and a screwdriver I climbed up the ladder onto the garage roof to screw batons of wood over the flapping roof to hold it down. Inwardly I was pooping myself, but I was determined to be the man and fix this. I was battling the elements, cursing myself for not having my drill things. I didn't realise at this point my wife was screaming at me to get down...

Then all of a sudden a huge gust of wind ripped more of the roof off and lifted me up..that was enough for me I tried scrambling off the roof back to the garage and the ladder to get down. When I got there the ladder had blown over. It was at this point I noticed my wife, I couldn't hear her but my amateur lip reading skills told me she was calling me an effing idiot get the hell down.. So not only did I fail in securing the roof, fail in being this new manly man who fixes things I was now an effing idiot.  

After getting down, we stood in the kitchen and watched the roof blow away like a scene from the beginning of the wizard of oz.  

I did redeem myself slightly by picking my youngest daughter up from school rather than her travel on the bus. So I was kind of a hero in the end. 

Friday and Saturday was spent working at the site with professionals who knew what they were doing. I enjoyed that, I passed things and held things and stuff like that. A big thank you to Nick, Paul and Adam, a pleasure to work with and they made super progress. 

Talking of scary moments, anyone ever taught their child to drive? I'm writing this whilst sat in the back of the car whilst my wife is teaching daughter number 2 how to drive. If this happens to be the last blog I ever write, thank you for reading. 

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