Making People Happy With Cake

Posted by Gill on

Last week on Radio 5live I heard a mother ask people to give blood. Her daughter had had 144 transfusions during treatment for leukaemia and she was reminding people how important blood donation is to the NHS.

I hadn’t given for years and years. I couldn’t remember why I stopped, I’d always rather enjoyed giving blood and not just for the biscuits you’re given afterwards. I registered and got an appointment for this afternoon.
I sat in the waiting area, drank water and filled out a form.
My name was called and I went to join a man at a computer terminal to complete registration.
He put in my details.
“Ah,” he said, “apparently we can’t accept you.”
Computer said no.
He told me it looked like it had something to do with the last time I gave blood.
And then it all came back to me. Very odd. A sudden part of my memory I hadn’t accessed for years. I was on a waiting list for a simple, dull procedure the last time I was called to donate and when I told them they sent me home and said I couldn’t give until after it was all done.
In the end I didn’t need the mini-op at all.
That was about fifteen years ago.
Since then I’ve moved house a couple of times, changed jobs, changed lives and as I’ve never been back the data hadn’t had a chance to be updated
Still, that was fine. I could now give.
Except I couldn’t. They pricked my finger, squeezed out a blood blob and tested my haemoglobin. It needed to be 125. It was 123. I left without a biscuit and can’t go back for another 3 months.
Not as bad as when I tried to give blood as a student in London. The blood drive came to the campus and I  didn’t get further than the desk that time either.
The blood blob floated at the top of the test tube.
It’s supposed to sink.
The nurse looked at me and shook her head, “do you eat lots of red meat?” she asked, “No,” my 19 year old self answered, “I’m a vegetarian.”
“Do you eat lots of green vegetables?” she asked.
“No,” came my weak, teenage reply, “I don’t like vegetables.”
She told me there was not much in my blood they really wanted and I should go to my GP. I got the train home to Worcestershire. My mother gave me a plate of cooked liver and told me that should be the end of “this vegetarian nonsense”.
I should add that for most of my first year I survived on a diet of tinned potatoes and tinned sweetcorn. And now I’m in the catering business.
I found out today that out of thirteen attempts at giving blood I have failed three times.
Next time I can’t fail.

Posted by Gill on

If you are planning to come to the tearooms when we reopen at the end of this month, please do not look too carefully at the chairs I’ve been painting.
I have just finished chair 17 of 28.
The process has taught me a lot about myself, none of it good.
My original plan was to rub down and paint 35.
I finished 8 and decided to switch to a darker paint.
I didn’t love the lighter paint so I came up with a theory (to convince myself) that it would be good to have a mixture of light and dark grey and that dark grey would be harder wearing.
Then I discovered that the dark grey paint needs two coats so takes a lot longer, plus the chairs don’t seem properly painted even after two coats. So after just five chairs I’ve given that up and changed back to dove grey which I have decided I do love now. Mainly because it doesn’t take hours to finish just one.
I’ve also come up with another theory (I’m good at theories which lessen my workload) that I only need 28 chairs for the main tearoom so I’ll use them there instead of the 35 needed for the conservatory.
In a nutshell: I am lazy. I can’t paint. I hate rubbing down chairs. I wish I’d never started.

Out of 28 chairs 5 of them will be a different colour.
Eventually I shall come up with a valid reason for this.

Posted by Gill on

Further to last post.
The cake signs are complete. That was the easiest and quickest job so clearly I did that first.
The wooden spoons are painted but not numbered and not varnished.
I have painted just eight chairs.
Finger needs to be pulled out.
We are now in March and by the end of this month we’ll be open again. I also need to buy a new dishwasher before then and do the dreaded deep clean.
In better news, the staff rota is looking healthy as almost everyone is returning.

Posted by Gill on

Most mornings when I wake the news tells me how many days are left until we leave the EU. The Big Brexit date is 29th March.
This is a very helpful countdown.
Not because I have to do anything particular in the EU departure lounge but because the Tearooms reopen that day.
Well sort of.
We’re going to be “soft opening” on the Wednesday of that week, by which I mean that if anyone happens along we’ll be able to serve them something if not everything.
The official reopening is Saturday 30th.
Today I have been procrastinating.
I have to rub down twenty+ chairs and repaint them, paint 30 wooden spoons and a dozen or so little wooden cake signs.
I don’t want to do any of these things.

Posted by Gill on

Two weeks after the tearooms closed and I have finally finished ironing.
Three baskets piled high, plus the inevitable washing loads from this week. I’ve watched a lot of tv quiz shows and have realised that 15-1 is actually quite dull. I much prefer The Chase.
What to do next?
Maybe I should apply...
Or put another load of washing in.

Posted by Gill on

One day left.
Today Geoff and Maureen came in for lunch, brought us a box of chocolates and a lovely card, bought a whole fruit cake which Geoff will ply with alcohol until Christmas and a painting from the final exhibition of the year.
Val and Alec brought their wonderful grandson Tai who’s studying to be a mental health professional. Thank goodness for Tai and people like him. V&A are justly proud.
In the conservatory it was gorgeous dog day. One came in a full purple onesie. With legs and everything. Her name is Evie. I wish I’d taken a photo.
A few other regulars popped in for their final visit of the season. It’s so dimly lit in the main room at the moment that we could barely see them. Must buy replacement bulbs for next year.
In home news our underfloor heating in the bathroom has been fixed. Last week it was freeeeeezing in there. Now it’s like walking across hot coals. A temperature adjustment is needed but not exactly easy to pull off.
If only I could wangle some time off to get it sorted.

Posted by Gill on

We have a range of sandwich fillings, panini fillings and jacket potato fillings.It’s understandable that some people look at one list and want it to fill something else.“Can I have a Brie and pear panini?” a lady asked this week. I said she could if she’d like but did she really want warm pear? She screwed up her nose, “Ooh no, thank you” she said. She had the sandwich.Then today someone asked for a coronation chicken panini. We talked them out of that one too.

Posted by Gill on

Four days before we close for winter and today the oven went on strike.
This made the day slightly tricky. We weren’t able to cook a ham, make more soup, cook bacon or bake scones.
We improvised.
We have run out of Worcester Blue cheese but I won’t be ordering more this close to the end of the season and we have plenty of cheddar and quiche.
The hob came back into use half way through the afternoon, thanks to Adrian’s ingenuity, and tomorrow morning we’ll be playing catch-up. We’ll cook our final 2018 ham and make soup with the last pumpkin (witches brew again).
People will wave as they leave and wish us happy Christmas.
I shall make the most of having a latte whenever I choose (that’s what I miss during the five month closure) and will listen and make notes while members of the team suggest things for next season, mainly things I need to buy/arrange/fix.
Like the oven.
And the dishwasher.

Posted by Gill on

The penultimate weekend of the 2018 season and we were visited by 16 fabulous old cars.
Most of them were Riley models.
It was a pretty cold day which included rain and hail and they didn’t look like the sort of vehicles to have heated seats.


The owners came for bacon rolls and coffee ahead of a car treasure hunt around the local roads. They were due back by 2.30. Late arrivals incurred penalty points.
Most of them arrived after the deadline. Some long after.
They all looked pretty cold...

Today was brighter and sunnier. There was a wedding in the church and just before the ceremony a group of well dressed guests came for sustenance and to use the loo.
I had quite a shock when I saw a man relieving himself.
Did he perhaps not notice that our toilets actually have doors?

Posted by Gill on

Alf arrived this week with roses. It’s his last visit of the season, he says, and wanted to bring me something. Alf is in his late eighties and drinks black americanos without sugar. Last year his wife Margaret died. He talks about her every time he visits. He once told me she had a little glass bell next to her bed. “She’d ring it when she was ready for me”, he said with a twinkle in his eye.
I put the flowers in a vase on the counter, tell him how pretty they are and ask him what colour he would call them?
He thinks for a moment.
“Shocking pink,” he says with a firm nod, “Margaret had some underwear that colour”.
And there’s the twinkle again.