So I am, for once, taking my own advice and moving on (although I haven't abandoned time entirely - I will not be beaten - my musings on time will appear here one of these days - I will suss out the time issue - and then I will write a book about it!!! Yes! future sorted!).
Anyway, in the meantime - here is what I spent some of my recent time doing...........
I enjoyed myself manning Mrs Pao's jewellery stall at Arts and Vintage fair at the Oyster Festival a couple of weeks ago. In fact I liked it so much that helping Mrs Pao with her stalls is my new best thing to do and I have offered my services any time she needs me.
It was a bit of a funny set up though. Usually the fair is in the large main hall of the church but due to some sort of mix up the main hall, although empty for most of the day bar one rather loud woman who kept popping out unnecessarily to talk very loudly at us, was not available. So a vast number of stalls were squashed into the smaller hall while others of us were in the foyer and the ante room at the end of it. People were not happy. There was much muttering.
That is me, the first stall on the left. It was not an advantageous position. This is the view from the double doors just inside the foyer which joined the two church halls together. The doors led to outside the building. These double doors were set back quite a way from the front of the two church halls. From the outside no-one knew we were there because they couldn't see us. The hall where most of the stalls were had 'come in and see us' banners hanging up outside and it's own front door through which people would go. Mind you, most of the stall holders in the hall didn't know we were there either until they ventured out to the loo (oh yes we were next to the loos too, nice) And this despite notices on the hall walls saying 'more stalls this way'! So how anyone expected visitors to come through is beyond me.
In a bid to get 'the punters' in, an enterprising man opened the doors so that at least we could be seen from outside, well a bit anyway. Unfortunately that meant Francine, on the stall opposite me, and I had to cover ourselves with scarves and woollies or freeze. A few folk wandered in but it wasn't until said enterprising man took a 'more stalls this way' notice and pinned it up outside the gates that we began to get more people in. Note to organisers regarding the power of advertising, it should actually include all your fee paying clients - otherwise they may not come back!!
Even so it cannot be said we were busy. Those who did venture into our realms were not spending money in any great quantity. The stall holders in the hall apparently didn't fare any better. 'Deadly' is how one man described it and a woman just packed up early and went home; there were so few people coming through. Of the four stalls in the foyer I was the only not to sell anything. I felt bad but Mrs Pao said not to worry she quite often didn't sell but picked up commissions and contacts. I didn't get any of those either. Mrs Pao fared a little better at the castle with a few sales but even there footfall was low and spending lower.
As I was on my own I was a little worried about breaks for the loo, lunch and beverages - but mainly loo breaks. Mrs Pao said she always tried to befriend another stall holder so she had cover for that situation. My anxiety levels started to rise at that comment because I feel I'm not too good at the befriending bit these days. However, my need to know I could go to the loo whenever I needed was stronger than my doubts and so I set about the business of getting to know people. I do rather feel I 'made' the other people talk to me but at least I had the loo breaks covered. I was also able to have a wander around the other stalls in the hall, which was how I came to know how squashed they were in there.
And so I whiled away the hours chatting, writing (about time), reading and people watching, a past-time I'm beginning to become quite fond of. I didn't just watch the customers, I noticed the creative folk as well. There are some seriously clever and talented people around. The quality of the items on show was amazing as was the artistic ability of the people who made them.
In our little corner sat Rachel (racheljanecrighton.co.uk) who made dear little dresses for small girls from vintage and reclaimed material under the name of Lily Urchin. At first I thought all the different patterned materials together in one dress was a bit too much but as the day went on they grew on me and when Rachel's little granddaughters came in dressed in the outfits I was won over. They looked so adorable. But what I really liked about Rachel's stall were her corsets. She makes the most divine corsets
You can't really see them but this one had butterflies on it. This was the one that was put in the doorway of the hall to try and entice people into the foyer
I so wish I could fit into one. She does make them to order but I don't think I shall be going there for a while. Rachel lives in a village near the one we used to live in before I escaped all those years ago, small world. She is also a farmers wife and spent most of the day knitting. Shades of Pioneer Woman I feel.
Rachel's daughter Francine francinerachel and her husband had the stall next to her and thus opposite me. They did romance. Ceramic hearts, metal hearts, doves, black metal rose coat hooks and other romance related items
Francine is doing a degree in American Studies as a mature student and as I did my degree as a mature student with a high percentage of American history and literature we spent a bit of time talking about our experiences. Another small world encounter.
The other stall holder in our foyer was a woman whose name I didn't get which was a bit unfortunate as we mostly covered each others breaks. She was selling what used to be called bric-a-brac but is now called, I believe, vintage collectables. So I shall call her VC in lieu of her name. She seemed quite interesting having lived in different countries. No small world co-incidences there though. Although it had a distinct 70's feel her stall had items from different era's. And it was all so colourful. Mainly orange and yellow with some red and green, it drew you in. It was the stall that gathered the most interest out of the four of us.
There were a few jewellery stalls there but, obvious bias aside, there was only one other that came close to Mrs Pao for quality and originality of design. Mrs Pao knits with wire which I think rather clever and then decorates her knitting with pearls and other stones. She also does this design in the form of tiaras for weddings or whenever one should feel the need of a tiara, they are not the exclusive premise of a wedding after all
here are some other necklace designs for more everyday wear perhaps
and one of her bracelets
she also made some really pretty earrings. Mrs Pao's jewellery website is called fishingforpearls. She also demonstrates her jewellery knitting on occasions. I am hoping to host one of her jewellery parties nearer Christmas.
As the day wore on I got the distinct impression that my stall was being ignored so I went into people watching mode to see why this might be. In general people automatically looked to the right as they came in and so saw Francine's stall first.
Because of the shape of the room when they lifted their head as they moved forward VC's stall was directly in their eye line so they were walking past my stall without really noticing it, plus VC's stall was hugely colourful. To move into the ante room at the end of the foyer from VC's stall they had to turn back to the right a little and so the colours of Rachel's dresses and corsets caught their eye. After their perusal of her clothing they just moved ahead into the ante-room. When they came out I think they assumed they had seen everything in the foyer because they just walked out looking straight ahead towards the doors.
It was fascinating. I remembered what an ex boyfriend, who was an English teacher, told me about newspapers. He said, in general, there wasn't much in the way of important news on the left hand page of the newspapers (if you are holding it open towards you) because people didn't look at the left side much. They focused on the right. So the important news went on the right with adverts tending to be on the left. Advertisers had to pay a premium to get their advert on the right hand pages. I checked this out a bit at the time and there did seem to be a certain truth in it. This premise would seem to be the same for stalls too.
Of course this wasn't the case with everyone. I did get some interest. People mainly came to my stall first if there were people at Francine's. Some people came straight to me. I was tempted to ask them if they were left handed but thought better of it. A rather strange question to ask complete strangers. And there were people who, when they came out of the ante-room, looked around the foyer again and then noticed me. I got to chat to some of the people who stopped by. I met a man who said he lived in Sri Lanka where he cut gems. We had quite a chat about Mrs Pao's stones. Two ladies and I had a discussion as to what constitutes an 'artisan'. Basically it is 'a skilled worker who makes things by hand' so we debated as to whether a mechanic could be called an artisan. No conclusion was reached.
Anyways, the day finally over, Pao came to pick me up and we went up to the castle to find Mrs Pao, pack her up and go home. I went home with the Pao's and was allowed by their cats to cuddle them, a privilege I appreciated very much. Pao, bless him, treated me to a most delicious chinese meal which he had delivered as a thank you for standing in for him at such short notice when I truly didn't mind at all. I am seriously thinking of getting him cloned. We all had the meal by the way. I didn't sit there and eat it on my own, that would be rude not to mention rather weird. Sadly his illness forced Pao to retire early so Mrs Pao and I chatted for a while about cats and this and that. Then she took me home and presented me with a beautiful bunch of yellow flowers from her as a thank you. I did rather well out of this day I feel.