Christmas is coming


Joanne is 12 with a light coating of puppy fat: one brother is a baby and her other brother is simply an annoying fact of life. It’s Christmas Day. Joanne woke (too early) this morning and was very excited to find a heavy Christmas stocking at the end of her bed. It’s an old sock of her Dad’s and it contains – as it always does – some loose change, nuts in shells, a satsuma and a slightly squashed Christmas cracker. That is all.

She will get a good pile of wrapped presents downstairs – exactly the same as her brothers in terms of quantity and quality. In all likelihood they came from the Grattan catalogue and Mum and Dad will be paying for them all year.

Dinner is round at Aunty Myra’s this time: the kids will help out in the kitchen (squeezing Primula into small lengths of celery as a sort of 1970’s amuse bouche) but then so will all the adult ladies (getting under Myra’s feet). The men go to pub – it’s open for two beers and that is all (no meals, no drinks, no nowt after that – the staff have their Christmas to go to).  When they come back dinner will be eaten. It’s soup or maybe melon, dinner and pudding. There is no cranberry sauce, no ‘choice’ of meats, no vegetarian option, no gluten free, or lactose intolerant and no wine either. The kids are eating at a card table, one of them is perched on a pile of Encyclopaedia Brittanica because there’s not enough chairs. After dinner there is the Queens speech, card games, chatting, cold cuts and off home to bed.

And it was glorious – the kids were bathed in a warm glow of selection boxes and Etch-a-sketch, the grown-ups had an unfamiliar sherry, snowball or brandy and got a little bit tiddly. The same tinsel tree and elderly lights came out year after year and everyone went ‘ooooooo’ when the switch went on – casting a warm glow on hand-made aluminium foil stars, pipe-cleaner decorations, paper chains and baubles carefully brought out year after year (even though they’d been bought at the local paper-shop for a few pence).

Joanne is happy, even though her brother has eaten her last Milkybar and won’t share his Smarties. Christmas is wonderful. Pity it never snows.

one year on….

It’s my birthday!



Just after my birthday last year, and on a day when I was feeling a wee bit hung over, I made a momentous decision – after many years of saying that I wanted to run a wool shop, I put my (well, our..) money where my mouth was, and took the plunge.

I took over The Village Wool Shop from Wendy and set sail on a bit of an adventure. I had never worked in a shop let alone owned one, and my CV (nursing, travel writing and a bit of local government) wasn’t the ideal preparation for getting to grips with a small business. But at the age of (mumble mumble) and after a bit of a health scare, I thought, bugger it, if not now, when?

So today it’s my first birthday and a good opportunity for a bit of reflection.

I’ve met some lovely people this year: regulars who perhaps have a bigger stash than myself but can’t keep away from the stuff, proud grandmas and nanas keeping their little’uns warm and cosy, a few brave souls getting to grips with the first steps of knitting and crochet and sensible people (like myself) who simply cannot tolerate evenings sat in front of the telly without something to do.

I have been seduced (metaphorically of course) by reps offering new treasures and I’ve succumbed, filling the shop with a riot of colour and a heap of goodies. I’ve also been lucky enough to help out a couple of local charities and try my hand at manning a market stall.

I’ve written out a few patterns that I’ve carried around in my head for years and had the pleasure of seeing them adorning the head, hands and feet of others, and I’ve put together a few new things from scratch which has been tricky, but fun too (….and I’d like to take a moment to thank those people who tried out some of my patterns and put up with the errors and mistakes).

Of course it’s not been without its challenges: a high-street shop in the current climate is never going to make anyone rich, and the internet has made some shops like mine redundant already. But we keep on battling.

And I have made some interesting discoveries over the last year: purple is not nearly as popular as you’d think, variegated yarns can be rather difficult to sell and many crafters remain reluctant to use woolly wool for knitting and crochet. This has meant that some of my purchases have proved to be difficult to shift (and you can expect some bargains down the line!)

So on my one year anniversary I am still happy to be running my shop and very glad that I said “bugger it” when opportunity came knocking.

And one more thing? Thanks to all my new friends, valued customers and lovely knitters and crocheters for your support over the last year.