Starting with the highlights -
- JANUARY - we were given a gentle nudge by our accountants to maybe spend some money! How about advice like that to start the year. To explain I have to go right back to 1996 when we made a major (brave/foolhardy) decision for Bob to leave his secure teaching job and become a full time partner in our little business. It was a decision of the heart rather than the head. If we'd sat down and considered it objectively it probably never would have happened. As it was we took a gamble - I had gone as far as I could without another full time pair of hands, and he was just about at the end of his tether with his job. So we took the plunge, with two teenage children not far off university and a mortgage to pay. That was when we realised the fragility of our income and how important it was to keep a tight rein on our expenses. We've come a long way since then, thankfully never regretting the decision. The kids went off to uni and the mortgage was paid off but we still equated every penny that came in with the hours of work that took to make it (slight exaggeration) and with the belief that it could all go belly up at any time we put any major plans which cost money on hold. Then when your ACCOUNTANT tells you to SPEND some of your hard earned cash rather than see it dwindle in the bank.......
- FEBRUARY By now we had new living room furniture and plans under way for new windows. That was the first dip into the bank account. It got a boost from the Trade Show though where we amazed ourselves by doubling the orders we took the year before. Suddenly the quiet half of the year was no longer quiet and we were working just about as hard to keep up as the usually frantic months of October and November. We got feedback from our stockists that the cards were flying out the door, with some telling us that sale of our cards was paying THEIR mortgage! The new windows were money well spent and very overdue.
|going from this|
- MARCH I got a wonderful surprise on Mother's Day to hear from our daughter that we were going to be grandparents for the first time. (That would help reduce the bank balance!)
- APRIL We were still hibernating really - working away on orders and enjoying the unseasonal warm weather with lunches out in the garden.
- MAY The Craft Fair season started up again with Gardening Scotland closely followed by the Royal Highland Show a few weeks later.
- JUNE Just before the Highland Show we squeezed a trip down to see Laura and Greg and to help them move house. That was hard work, I can tell you and of course Laura, being pregnant had to take it easy and just give orders.
|In their new kitchen|
|The chalet type stand that was home from home for Bob for 3 weeks.|
- Also in AUGUST I escaped for a couple of days in York with Laura and the bump. What a great girlie weekend it was - tea at Betty's and lots of shopping.
- SEPTEMBER marked one year since we closed the workshop and gave up our own retail outlet.
September brought other noteworthy events. We splashed the cash again and had a new bathroom installed. Gone was the green bathroom suite (oh the shame) to be replaced with sparkling white. A bit of a marathon it was, mainly due to our tiler who believed a job worth doing was worth doing well and painstakingly slowly. So although it was started in September we just about made it in time for Christmas. But it was worth it and the job was well done.
We also managed to squeeze a week in Greece before the Autumn Trade Show
- Where are we now? Yes OCTOBER the month of the big Christmas Fairs, the continuing bathroom and the continuing orders. No sleep, no nothing but heads down and get on with it.
- NOVEMBER Now we've reached the big one. Country Living Christmas Fair in Glasgow
- DECEMBER Another trip down to see the baby squeezed in, a last push to get all the orders out in time for Christmas, a dash round the shops for presents and food, the tree decorated, the food cooked...and relaaaaxxx.
Now what about the LOWLIGHTS I mentioned?
Well success has come at a price. Thankfully we are both fit and healthy and long may it continue, but we have sacrificed our lives to our business, more so in this past year than ever. The work/life balance is laughably tilted well over to work. You could say that's all very well but we've had weekends away, a holiday and visited family. Yes but for every day spent away from work we've added the time to the other days around it. So a fourteen hour day becomes a sixteen or seventeen hour day, and that is unsustainable.
My personal time clock has gone completely haywire which is why I'm sitting here at 2.18 am. I fall asleep for catnaps during the day and manage a brief five or so hours a night. A lady of my advancing years should be getting her beauty sleep!
Some things will have to change for 2012 but I haven't had the time to figure out how exactly. Meanwhile the next cash guzzler will be the kitchen - another room I'm utterly ashamed of. And boy do I have plans for that!