In the Garden- an update.

Things have started to go a little wiry and crazy in the garden. The weather Gods have been Divas for the past month and from January style rain to the 26 degrees centigrade it is now is a turn around to say the least. My Sun-Dance seems to have worked for the time being at least.

The abnormally mild start to the gardening year was welcomed in in April and plants started flowering around mid March. Early, I know. When the weather turned in May and it got cold the poor petals wilted and the plants just died back. Depressing. Well now the weather has settled (thank the Gods) the garden is starting to get into it’s rhythm. I’ve attached a few Macro Pics of the more colourful bits (there is, unfortunately, still too much bare ground in between these parcels of petals to bother with large scale photos)

If I can get these things to grow, you should be trying too! Good luck 😉



Men & Women…

So different…

Especially for me, in a shop, trying to sell things. I am a people-watcher. No, it’s not some odd Sci-Fi name I gave my kind. I just find it intresting to look at people; their actions, reactions, how they speak, why they speak, what they do when they talk to others, the way they talk to others, I find it interesting.

I can tell things about a person by the objects they buy in the cookware shop I work in. The colour of the dinner service they buy tells me a lot about their personalities. There are different personality profiles for each product too; either personality A or personality B.

For example; there is a Denby dinner service in store with blue blossom pattern on pale cream china. It’s modern as it’s a design from the Monsoon Collection but there are two people who buy this. The Fussies. The Romantics. Let me explain.

The Fussies are an older client who grew up on floral patterns and feel comfortable living with them, enjoying the modernist type but feeling safe enough in the old ‘floral’ genre to buy a whole dinner service. The Romantics are younger, maybe even my age, who are as the name directs, romantics. The soft floaty floral is easy on the eye, nothing too striking but a little different than a plain white set. If we didn’t have the floral blue set, these customers would buy plain white. The fact that this set is blue also means something to me. Calm, sensible people; neither type wanting to draw attention to themselves but with a bit of imagination showing in their product choice. They don’t take risks, they don’t shout, they don’t complain. They only buy something if they were looking for it. They do not buy things on the spur of the moment.

Sometimes you can see these customers as soon as they walk in.

The customers that walk to the back of the shop are more difficult. Le Creuset customers. I’ve titled this post ‘Men & Women’ because on the sales from the more expensive back of the shop one of the pair is difficult. Sales is a juggling act, fact, opinion and imagination bundled up in a eloquent pitch to get them to part with money.

Hey, it’s my job.

So when I see a couple looking at a product, I give myself a moment to work out the dynamic. Who’s in charge? Who’s mind is elsewhere? Who wants to be any where else right now? Who is in a bad mood? Who is opinionated? Who is clueless? These questions help me tailor my pitch. Guys want to know fact, product detail, technical points, the bits that to be quite honest don’t mean diddly squat unless you put them in context, which some of these guys really can’t grasp. Why yes, cast iron is wonderful stuff and the goose pot is an incredibly large pot designed, yeah, you got it, to fit a goose inside. Yes you can use it on the hob and in the oven and what not and who-ja-ma-wot-sit but really, are you ever going to cook a curry THAT BIG? Or, more directly, A GOOSE? Or seriously, is your oven EVEN BIG ENOUGH?

‘How you getting on there? You okay?’ I ask them. These men turn and look at me like I’m a cockroach. ‘I’m fine.’ is the answer when you know fine well they are most definitely not, in more ways than one. Lo-and-behold, twenty seconds later, out the corner of your eye, when you are stood no further than six feet away, in plain sight of these sexist, bigots they catch your manager walking past and grab them to ask about ‘the product details’. Your manager is male. Hmm, get that. I’m a girl so despite my thorough training and years of experience in sales, my love of cookware and kitchen products and the fact I am much more informed than my manager means nothing. You got it. The first thing they care to notice is the fact I’m a girl. A girl that looks under 25. I mustn’t have a clue.

Then there’s the wives/girlfriends/what ever that make me laugh. Some get angry with their men for looking at goose pots and asking me questions about stainless steel verses toughened non-stick. The women who cling to their men-folk like I’m going to jump on them and take them down. The women who are so under the thumb it makes me wince to hear the way their men talk to them. The women who are snappish and angry at me cause they have to replace something they broke. I get them all. Sometimes they make you laugh. Sometimes they ruin your day.

I had a customer throw a hissy fit because I wouldn’t use a whole damn sheet (almost 3 ft) of bubble wrap to wrap a mug for him to get home. ‘What happens if it gets broken on the way home?!’ he screeched at me. I told him he’d have to throw the mug at the ground to break it through the already requested eight sheets of tissue paper (standard wrapping in store is 3-4 sheets) and if he did manage to break it it would be like any other product broken from misuse. Mugs aren’t supposed to be thrown at the floor or dropped. They will break. Alas, he did not take this lightly. So I set my male college on him. Luckily he was in the same frame of mind as I. The customer left after two minutes.

There was one woman who wanted us to package every single piece of a twelve place setting dinner service (12x soup bowls, 12x dinner plates, 12x salad plates, 12x tea plates, 12x tea cups with accompanying 12 saucers, 12x mugs with teapot, platter and serving bowls x2) to send abroad. Tissue was not good enough. She demanded boxes and crates and tissue and bubble wrap and sellotape and an address label and personal shipping. Well, not quite the last two but it makes me mad. If you are silly enough to buy that amount to ship to South Africa it is a downright CHEEK to ask the staff in a store to package it up for you. Our job is to wrap only enough for a customer to take home. NOT SHIP ABROAD. That’s like going into a store, buying a t-shirt and asking the poor person at the till to wrap it in birthday paper and write out the card!

What the hell people? Get a grip. You want to send it abroad? You pay the price for packaging, not the bloody company you buy the products from. There is no service like that in our store. DIY people. That’s life. The customer is NOT always right. In fact, they are wrong more often than anything else.

I must admit there are some lovely people out there; beautiful, wonderful, kind, generous, funny people who have the time to be kind and polite, patient and humorous. I just wonder how these demanding, angry, aggressive, possessive folks manage to function in the world. Surely they struggle with all that angst? I just think to myself, if they can be that rude and obnoxious to a complete stranger and not think twice, imagine how they are with their families? I shudder to imagine.

At least kindness and compassion get returned to those who give it. Hopefully anger does too; that way, those people might understand how miserable they make others.


Mother’s baby chicks…

My mother has caught the bug.

Well, she caught it last year and now it’s getting pretty bad… Chickens. To be honest it hasn’t just stopped with the chickens; she now owns quails too. They eat eggs like I eat Smarties.

Last spring she got herself (and my long-suffering father who on the sly really enjoys the birds) four baby chickens. They were about 6 weeks old if I remember correctly. They are all Bantams, the easier to house and pick up if needed; one grey Dorking, one teeny little black thing that looked like a starling, one ugly baldy headed little Rhode Island Red and one ginger Dorking. Strange looking without their full head of feathers but sweet enough.

Unfortunately they lost Clarisse (the Starling looking one) to the dog’s big clumsy foot when she was startled by a loud noise and managed to escape. Kimmy the Wiemeraner was just trying to stop the chick and misplaced her foot, hitting the little bird. She didn’t know what she’d done wrong the poor dog, Mum and Dad were so upset.

So, they went back to the place they got the originals from and picked up another RIR Bantam. They were then all named- Dora (the bigger grey Dorking) Cora (the smaller ginger one) Rita (one of the Rhodies, now going by Reets) and Skeeta (the other, now going by Skeets) They were happy for a full summer and autumn and winter not laying a thing due to seasonal weather and temperatures and started laying this spring.

Cora got sick, the poor little thing got quiet and listless and in a couple of days passed away. We are unsure as to what definitely saw her off but it could have been a combination of being egg-bound, the warm week my parents had enjoyed in the garden followed immediately by frost and bitter winds the next, and the fact she didn’t want to eat. So RIP Cora. She was my favourite.

By spring my parents didn’t want to introduce any other girls to the trio so left it there.

Only that wasn’t where they left it. My Mum had been secretly researching another type of wee fowl all through the winter in preparation of the spring when she would be able to bring home some teensy baby quails!

Oh yes. Quails. A-bloody-DORABLE. My folks went to pick up the babies April-ish time and had a tank waiting at home to put them in as they were still too young to be out in the terrible weather, 4 weeks old if I remember rightly. She only picked six at first and found them to be so sweet and charming that after the little birds were big enough to go outside in their own coop, she and my Dad went out and bought another twelve. It sounds a lot but these quails are only just comparable to slightly overweight (okay I’ll be honest, obese) sparrows and take up very little space individually, my parents also giving them the most massive coop and run I think I’ve ever seen in a domestic space.

She has since swapped out a male from one batch of quail chicks and a hen from the other with a friend of my Dad’s who has a menagerie of her own and who handed over two sisters; Cagney & Lacey. Two pure white Bantam Silkies. The (bless them) ugliest two chooks I’ve seen but with the folks love, attention and albeit higher quality and quantity of food and treats, the two of them are now proud as punch to be squarking (Lacey I think is the culprit here) around their new coop. Oh yes, they have their own little semi-detached in my parents rather-too-large garden.

And now, these.

Both Millefleur and Lavender Bantam Pekins. Pic above is them at 2 days old I think… They came to my mother from a school project for the wee ones. The teacher wanted her reception class to see where baby chickens come from. The miracle of life and all that.

I won’t go into too much detail but I do think if my Mother hadn’t have picked and paid for the fertilised eggs and been there to supervise said reception teacher, all of these adorable babies wouldn’t be here. The teacher only managed to kill one in her ignorance and lack of research and planning. The silly woman had the humidity too low in the incubator and then went and put a whole tub of dry layers pellets inside too. Is my poor mother the only one with enough brain cells to realise the pellets will soak up any moisture in the air, therefore dropping the humidity and temperature in the incubator, therefore making any hatching impossible for baby birds as the drier the shell the more difficult and dangerous hatching is?! That one poor baby got it’s tiny head out and the teacher seeing this, decided to put food in for them and the problem as previously mentioned occurred, cementing the half hatched baby in it’s own shell to struggle and suffocate. My poor Mum was devastated. As this all happened at school, in a class room, there was only so much influence she could have and the teachers didn’t head her advice and ended up killing the baby chicken.

It scares me to think people that ignorant teach the next generation. Ignorance is just as dangerous as fear but… That is for another time.

And you can see the difference here in their tiny little flight feathers. SWEET! Happily, the teacher in the story became bored after the rest of the chicks hatched (minus three that didn’t pip also due to the extremely low and insufficient humidity the teacher set and the one that passed) and they are now happy and racing around their new home, eating, drinking and playing hopscotch with all their brothers and sisters. This morning my Dad called them my Mum’s therapy; I believe he’s right.

So, my parents are addicts. Bird addicts.

I suppose there are worse things to be addicted to… 😉