Half way already and loving Lichfield

Hard to believe but today we’re seven weeks into our fourteen week commitment with Calendar Club at The Three Spires Shopping Centre in Lichfield. Time sure does fly when you’re having fun …

Barry and I are working surprisingly well together, sharing time in the shop and ensuring we each have regular time out. We must be doing something right as we’re featured in the latest Bulletin to Store Operators as third in the country (over 270 outlets) for the number of feedback input from the till receipts we give. When customers go to the website and complete a short five-question feedback survey, their name goes into a draw to win a £250 High Street voucher.

Barry amused himself last week on one of my days away. A customer asked where ‘the lovely lady’ was; “That’s no lady, that’s my wife,!” he told me he chortled – said he’d been waiting years to use that line. Cheeky whatsit!

I don’t get to be boat alone much on my down days, but that’s ok. I’ve been thankful to be with mum for some crucial appointments – more on that later.

And been able to share precious moments with our grandsons.

Barry gets the joy of moving Areandare every 14 days (to meet CRT requirements), fill up with water and diesel as needed, and empty you know what … Since the beginning of October we’ve been hopping between Whittington, Hopwas, Alrewas – as of  yesterday we’re at Handsacre; a new mooring to experience. Each place needs to have somewhere to park, and a reliable bus service into Lichfield.

Fitting in fabulous friends

We don’t know who’s going to surprise us at the shop next, which adds to the interest and pleasure of this phase in our quest to make our chosen lifestyle sustainable.

My friend of almost a lifetime, Karen, brought her mum Sheila in to see us. She’s a similar age to my mum, and is also a widow. I’ve known them both since we first moved to Sutton Coldfield, from Shirley, Solihull, when I was at Primary School.

The weekend before last we welcomed Gav and Helen on board for a night of frivolity – they’re currently living in Leeds. We initially met these gorgeous people in Gisborne, many years ago.

Most recently we joined Helen and Andy from Wildside, and Andrew and Sarah from Waterways World – and of course Stu and Seth. We’d last all been together for the first festival we ever traded at, at The Bond in April 2014 – we moored opposite Sarah on ‘The Book Barge‘ when she was being filmed by the BBC at one her book launches. Said book was ‘The Bookshop That Floated Away‘. A hilarious tale of her exploits travelling around England on her book-selling-narrowboat ‘The Book Barge’ with no loo! It’s a brilliant read. Rather a lot’s happened in her life since then, like crossing the English Channel on her boat, getting married, living in France, having a baby …

Dad’s gift to mum

I vividly recall sitting late one evening with my dad, around three and a half years ago, after mum had gone to bed. Dad looked anxious. He had Vascular Dementia and Alzheimer’s, though hadn’t yet been formally diagnosed. I asked him what was worrying him. “All this.” He said desperately. “What’s going to happen?” I asked if he meant mum, when he died. Because he’d obviously waited to talk to me. “Yes.” He replied. I promised faithfully my sisters and I would look after mum, and sort out ‘All this’ – their home and possessions. He’d wanted to move somewhere closer to one of their daughters for a while, and de-clutter. But for a variety of reasons it didn’t happen. By the time I eventually got through the bureaucracy of the NHS and managed to obtain a diagnosis for dad, it was too late for him to be offered any medication to improve the quality of his life.

For mum, earlier this year I’d began to see the subtle signs of her walking a similar path. This time I knew, from experience, who to contact and what to ask for.

Last week mum was diagnosed with early Alzheimer’s Disease, by a gentle, kind and knowledgable Older Adult Consultant Psychiatrist. And mum will be starting on medication that may help her short term memory and cognitive functioning which is slowing down:

Cognitive functions can be defined as cerebral activities that lead to knowledge, including all means and mechanisms of acquiring information. Cognitive functions encompass reasoning, memory , attention, and language and lead directly to the attainment of information and, thus, knowledge.

She’s still able to mostly care for herself. She has a carer each morning for half an hour, an AgeUK Domestic Services cleaner weekly for two hours, a cooked meal from ‘Julie’s Pantry’ each weekday, and one of her daughters almost every weekend.

Making it National on-line – sold down the river

We were honoured to be chosen, along with nine other floating businesses, to feature in an article by The Guardian which was published on Saturday – ‘Sold Down the River: 10 Wonderful Floating Businesses’. The article gives an intriguing insight into the variety of boat-traders living and working on the UK Inland Waterways. Do have a read – there’s more unusual ways of shopping than in the High Street for your Christmas gifts!

Unless you’re looking for calendars of course. If so, come to Lichfield Three Spires Shopping Centre and find us there every day until 8th January, except Christmas Day and New Year’s Day …

A special day

There’s two significant events for me today. A mixture of joy and sadness. Our oldest grandson is eight years old and I’ve got a day to have lunch with my daughter then meet the birthday boy from school. We’re off to McDonald’s for tea – I must love him a lot as I never set foot in the place any other time!

It’s also a day to mark the decade since one of my dearest friends took her life at Alice Springs. So I’ve dyed my hair purple all over once again. And I’m wearing mostly said colour today. It was her favourite too. Andree Marie if you’re reading this somehow, I hope you’re at peace and watching how incredible your beautiful daughter is. Arohanui everyone.

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