Monthly Archives: November 2012

A Long Drop

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As I sit and write this I am now in Egham, Surrey (or thereabouts) and counting down the hours until the dreaded bungee jump. I think I am far more nervous about the jump than for leaving England or any of the other challenges I’ll face on India. I don’t mind the thought of falling – I’d love to do a skydive, just as soon as they make it cheaper – but the recoil from the rope, and having no control over your motion, already makes me feel queasy.

Fortunately I’ve had lots of positive responses from friends, work colleagues, and family. My sponsorship form has been pinned up at work for a few weeks gradually gaining signatures, and more people have been asking me about it. I haven’t really been concentrating on getting sponsorship in recent weeks however due to the proximity of other fundraising events, and hence I have yet to reach my target amount. Sponsorship currently adds up to just under £200, and ideally I would love to triple this!

I know that I have only 23 hours and 35 minutes in which to do this (oh god), but I know I can get more people to sponsor me. This is so important for me to be able to cover the accommodation costs whilst I’m volunteering in India. Though comparitively cheaper to live in than the UK, Bangalore is still reasonably expensive for India, and over a year’s stay will likely cost in excess of £2000. As my budget currently stands, I do not have enough to pay for the whole year and really need to up my ante in this regard.

For the first two months I’ll be living with a family about 5km from the SICHREM office. I don’t know if they have any children, or what sort of home/area they live in, but I am so excited for the chance to live as part of the local community. It will far exceed any tourist guide or book, and should let me settle in very easily. Once I’ve got acquainted and can navigate my way round the city like a pro, and maybe even having picked up some culinary prowess, I might then go on to stay in an apartment with another family, or share a place with a professional city worker. I may even get super-confident and stay by myself in a newly-built set of apartments in the city. All of these options, my supervisor at the charity tells me, come in under 15000 INR a month (£200ish), and the homestay option where I also receive 2 full meals a day, is only £130/month!

Despite this, I still desperately require funds to be able to afford everything. I therefore ask, if you would like to help me in working unpaid for this fantastic charity, and support a volunteer placement which will be making a genuine and important difference to people’s awareness of, and experiences of, human rights issues in South India, please support me online, or in person by signing my sponsorship form. I am in Egham until Tuesday or Wednesday next week, so if you don’t see me before my ordeal, you still have time to make my day. 🙂

I cannot emphasise enough how much I am loathe to do this bungee jump, and am genuinely scared at the thought of stepping off that platform. If nothing else, please sponsor me just to see me suffer. Evidence of my pain will be posted tomorrow, in full hd!

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A Fantastic Evening

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When I turned up to the fundraising evening which Scunthorpe’s Amnesty International group had organised on my behalf, I didn’t know what to expect. Billed as an Indian food evening, taking donations for entry, I had no idea how the evening would pan out, or how many people might turn up. David, the organiser, advised me to bring some extra stuff to boost my third of the takings for the night.

I therefore arrived with my oversized handbag stuffed full of my remaining silk scarves, dressed in too few layers for the cold November evening, and being a little flustered after getting lost several times (as usual). When droves of people began turning up I couldn’t believe it. The excellent cook, Liz, whose house the gathering was held in, had made so many different Indian dishes that all looked amazing. I wish I’d remembered to take photos! For dessert there was some mango cream – the lightest thing you’ll ever taste – traditional homemade rice pudding with fruit in, and my favourite, mithai (Indian sweets). I think I ate about 3 huge gulab jamuns, and can’t recall how many barfi.

One of the women kindly offered to make an announcement on my behalf about the work I was fundraising for, and the scarves I’d laid out on sale on a table in the corner. After that, all the women started thronging round it, and I ended up making £70 just from scarves!

At the end of the evening, Dave came up to give me my share of the profits, and it came to £110 – again, I couldn’t believe how much I’d just added to my fundraising total. I only ever expected to get about £40 from the evening, and thought that might even be a little optimistic.

The following day I gatecrashed another local event with my raffle tickets in hand – this time an art exhibition. I think I probably made more money than the organisers did from painting sales! The profits from this weekend alone has now raised my total to £704.34, not counting the money I expect to get from sponsorship for my upcoming bungee jump!

Speaking of which, you can still sponsor me for this, or get more minute-by-minute detail on the day (1st December) here.

Etsy

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Following on from the disappointing sales of the WI craft fair, I’ve finally got around to finishing the creation of my Etsy store. For those of you who don’t know, Etsy is an online community for selling craft and handmade items, rather like a virtual version of traditional craft fairs.

Making a shop on Etsy was something I had been planning to do in the likely event that I wouldn’t sell out all of my stock. So today I’ve been busy photographing all of my items in artistic ways – it’s so difficult to get things just at the right light and angle so they look as gorgeous on the internet as they do in real life. You have to think of ways to make up for the fact that buyers can’t touch them.

After endless trials with the camera and software that didn’t want to work, I got to the last stage of choosing the best ones, and uploading them – all ready to go. To have a look at my fantabulous creations and get your tactile senses tingling, go to Abigail’s Secrets on Etsy.

Could it be you…?

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Raffle December 6th

Over £180 worth of prizes! More than a 1 in 5 chance of winning!

 

With less than 3 weeks until the big raffle is drawn, here’s an update on what you can win:

Top prizes

  • £25 voucher toward any treatment at Earth Energies, Brigg
  • £20 voucher for Bengal Spice, Brigg
  • Anew Genics Treatment Concentrate worth £30
  • Chocolate Tasting Club Classic Selection Box worth £19.99

Secondary prizes

  • Anew Clinical Eye Lift Cream (RRP £19.50)
  • Chocolate Tasting Club Munch & Nibble Box worth £9.99
  • Bottle of Reserva Valdepenas Gran Familia Red Wine (RRP £9.99)
  • ‘Far Away  Exotic’ eau de parfum (RRP £13)
  • ‘Perfect Strength’ eau de toilette (RRP £13)

Small prizes

  • Avon Nailwear Pro+ in  ‘Real Red’
  • Avon Ultra Colour Rich lipstick in ‘Sparkling Warm Rose’
  • Roe’s Farm Dairy voucher for 1ltr tub ice cream
  • Lavender and camomile room & linen spray
  • ‘Amazon’ shower gel for men

Tickets cost £1 per strip, and can be purchased from me in person. For those of you living further afield, I will happily keep tickets aside for you. If you win, I will post your prize(s) to you.

A Busy Week

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As the title suggests, this week has been a bit jam-packed. Thus, despite my good intentions, I have again not come around to putting up this blog post as soon as I would have liked.

Anyhow, I received a call late on Thursday night last week from a lady I have been liaising with from Brigg Town Council, asking if I wanted to gatecrash another event (not quite her words) the following evening. I went along with bucket and fresh raffle ticket book in hand, and perched at the top of the stairs waiting for any unsuspecting attendees to walk in. My placement was clearly spot-on, as it enabled me to capture £46 from all the people who didn’t manage to sprint past me fast enough. What a fantastic and rapid way to boost my fundraising! I also succeeded in inundating all of these lovely people with flyers for my upcoming fundraising evening with local business Design Orchard. Looks like my efforts might be more successful yet!

The Saturday following this was devoted then to a pre-planned stall at Wrawby Autumn Fair, in the village hall. I was indecisively umm-ing and aah-ing about going beforehand, as I was meant to be at work that day, but committed in the end to the fundraising task ahead – and I am so glad I did!

I walked into the hall during the initial set-up expecting it be dead, and was shocked at the number of stalls that were already in place. I think I was the last one to be ready. I had a huge table (which I spent about 20 minutes re-arranging, much to my Nan’s annoyance – thanks Nan for the help by the way!).

My Nan, the ever-faithful helper

There was a real village atmosphere (or was that just me?) as I saw old faces from my primary school years coming in  and pretty much every one of them bought something from me. Even though the completion of some of the Christmas tree decorations was still ongoing during the 2 hours that the fair was open to the public, I managed to make £42.50! That’s over £80 in two days – enough for…about a month’s food in India? Or perhaps a quarter of the cost of my visa if you want to put it that way.

I was so pleased with myself, and the stall looked fantastic, as did all the decorations.

Some girl stood behind a stall

The professional touch…

After clearing up and taking the remaining stock home, I spent the rest of my week putting the finishing touches to the final few decorations still needing buttons/ribbons/wire. It may not sound like a lot of work, but such small things can take a very long time to get through, especially when you keep stabbing yourself with the needle. If I wasn’t self-employed, I’d be able to sue my boss for damages.

Just when it seemed that all was nearly completed, with only the final 20 or so pieces to finish, my poor, overworked sewing machine had a massive tantrum and started eating anything I put under its foot. Feeling confident, I pulled out my special lubricating oil and subjected every moving part I could see to rivers of the stuff. After this didn’t work however, and my machine continued to make a horrible clacking noise, I enlisted the help of my Dad. Together, we nearly dismantled the thing in an attempt to get at the inner machinery. Eventually I found the problem, smothered all the cogs in petroleum jelly, and it began sewing again like a dream. Pity it only took me a whole afternoon to figure that out.

Thursday evening then saw the completion of the final favour, which brings us to today.

This Saturday was the date I’ve been counting down to for over a month and a half, the one which began the entire crazed sewing project. The Humberside WI Christmas Fair. I therefore expected to sell as much of my stock as possible, and in the best scenario sell out, making a couple of hundred pounds in the process. I also had some silk scarves imported from India which sold like hot-cakes at the Wrawby fair.

Scarves imported from India, modelled by my mannequin

But I was bitterly disappointed by the lack of customer interest. Despite a great deal of footfall throughout the day, and the fair being open for six hours, I only sold 5 items from my stall, and made up the rest of my pitiful £34.50 profit from raffle ticket sales. In all honesty it wasn’t really worth me going, and I’ll now have to put the rest of my (mountain) of stock onto ebay or etsy (more to come on that). It’s ironic that I did much better on an event which only arose because I was already planning to attend this one. It wasn’t for lack of customer interest. I think the people who came to the fair were in general more interested in having an afternoon out than seriously purchasing goods, as several of the other stall holders also did poorly on sales.

Well, the experience has still served me a valuable lesson. I’ll now be focussing more of my attention onto selling raffle tickets – they’re easy to carry on me at all times and have a low mark-up price which encourages more people to buy. Furthermore, they don’t need to run out, as I can always purchase another book. 🙂

On a brighter note, my next upcoming event should be great fun. Scunthorpe’s Amnesty International group have kindly agreed to hold a joint fundraiser evening for me, where some of the profits will be mine, and the rest Amnesty’s. It’s basically a curry evening where people pay to attend and get their meal. I still need to think of something to contribute, edible or otherwise…until next time!

The Adventure Begins

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Today marks the start of my trip.

My flights have just been booked, my travel insurance is paid for. I’m actually going to INDIA!!!!!

I managed to find a really great deal with Southall Travel, who gave me the same flight that all the other companies and price comparison sites were selling, for only £480. Take that BA, trying to charge me £600! So I’m travelling Air India – they have fantastic films in their TV collections, so that’ll help me while away some (3) hours. I’m going to have to take a list of Bollywood  films with me, so that I can maximise my opportunity to buy out every single one.

The insurance company asked plenty of confusing health questions, some along the lines of, “We assume you’ve never been to hospital with this condition, answer yes or no”. Well the answer is I have been, so is that a no for ‘I haven’t been’, or ‘No I disagree with your assumption’? I also had to quickly pretend I wasn’t quite so decrepit as I really am when I saw they wanted to charge me £70 extra for the privilege of being ill.

Following on from which, I got my typhoid jab out the way yesterday, so I’m all vaccinated up!

My flight leaves on January 9th, and I’ll be returning December-ish (depending on how long the Indian Government will tolerate me staying/throw me out of their country). I can’t even begin to express how excited I am now. It’s a good job I booked the flights when I was alone, because I went running round the whole house squealing for about 10 minutes.

I’ve started looking at places I want to visit in between work days as well, and there’s just too much to do in one trip. India is so big that to get from one city to the next takes days by train, and I want to visit them all! My boss (who is Indian) was also asking me yesterday whether I wanted him to set me up with an Indian boy whilst I’m out there. Erm…I’m OK thanks? It’s great though that people keep talking to me about my trip. It’s getting others interested (which spreads knowledge) and helps with generating wider and wider circles of support. So I’ll leave you with a reminder of why I’m going, and why it’s important, to keep spreading that message:

http://www.indiatogether.org/women/violence/violence.htm

Frustration

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Different events are drawing near, and time seems to be running out. I’ve got my first craft fair coming up this Saturday in my village, but I’m already triple booked for that day – what to do!? I’m currently debating whether or not to enlist some parental help in getting my stall sorted, whilst simultaneously working in two other places at once. In addition, my pile of decorations, though looking beautiful and fairly substantial, are still not finished. I’ve been frantically hand-stitching for a whole day and I still have to attach all of the ribbons to hang them with. Looks like my next day off is going to consist of me being locked in a room by myself until they’re all done!

I’ve finally started to bite the bullet on collecting bungee jump sponsorships off people too. I hate asking people for money, and it’s been stopping me for quite a while. However, now that there’s less than a month to go, and given how much I’m dreading the jump, the back of my mind has started shouting at me to make it all worthwhile. Last night I descended on my lovely work colleagues and badgered them all into giving me their autographs…”£100? Yes, just sign here please…”

Things are also starting to become increasingly real. I have my vaccinations booked for tomorrow, thankfully only the one, and all my medications sorted for the year. And I don’t have to take anti-malarials in Bangalore! I’m so glad that I won’t be constantly itching for a year (the tablets don’t agree with me). Though the travel nurse assured me that if I was to go anywhere north of Hyderabad, or into Goa, I must get some. So, basically, I should be taking them anyway, as I intend to go to all those places.

Most of the weekend was spent trawling price comparison sites and deal-finders, and I was ready to book yesterday – I even got so far as ringing the flight agency – only to be told my flights had disappeared (apparently). 😦  Time to start looking again.