Tag Archives: christmas

Four Weeks And Counting

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Wow, what a fantastic week! It began last Thursday with my fundraising evening at Design Orchard in Brigg. The lovely ladies there had very kindly agreed to open the shop late on my behalf, allowing my guests access to not only their shop, but free coffee and cake. I would then get 10% of whatever profits they made from the sale of shop goods on the night.

After heavily flyering for the event, and posting numerous ads in the local papers (as well as forcing flyers onto anyone who bought a raffle ticket) I was expecting a decent turn-out. However, the weather turned foul during the afternoon, and when I arrived Brigg was dead. I wasn’t too discouraged, eagerly setting up my beautiful display of hand-made decorations (if I do say so myself) and all the raffle prizes I’d managed to acquire free of charge.

In the end though, only one family from the village, and my mum and her friend, turned up. For this reason I decided to postpone drawing my raffle until I’d gathered a few more people to buy tickets, and where there would be a good crowd to attend.
I therefore went to several of the local pubs asking about quiz nights, and found success with The White Hart in Brigg. Arriving with my trusty collection bucket (pictured in an earlier post) and all my raffle tickets – pre-folded by my nan – I sat in wait for all the people who’d agreed to come.

No one turned up.

After about half an hour of panicked calling to my various friends, I just decided to get on with it. Once I actually got up and started selling raffle tickets, with Andy the landlord’s helpful announcement on my behalf, I did a roaring trade and had some very interesting (if that’s the word) conversations with some men in knitted reindeer jumpers, and a man who practically lived in the pub who bought £20 worth of tickets! After the raffle was drawn, and the winners spent anxious moments deciding between which wine bottle to grab, I spent an entertaining half hour chatting to two older gentlemen about travelling and the state of the world in general, and received some invaluable advice on testing wine quality. A life-long skill I’m sure.

I managed to make a further £75 throughout the evening, bringing my total for the raffle to £173! It was such a fantastic evening, and I want to thank both Design Orchard and The White Hart again for all their support and generosity. Here’s to next week’s fundraising event, at another pub quiz!

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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!

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.

Over-excitement

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Phew, it has been a while! Lots of things to update on – the most important being that I have a couple of new fundraising events coming up.

I met with the Amnesty International group and we’re now planning to put on an Indian food evening on November 23rd (a Friday I think) and split the proceeds, which will be fantastic! I’m not cooking though as I have no idea what to do with food. I might try to make some Indian sweets though, as they’re my favourite, and the chef always gets to lick the bowl.

I’m also now attending my village’s Autumn Fair on November 10th, selling the same Christmas tree decorations that I’ll be selling at the WI Fair on the 17th. Everything is happening in November! It’s going to be a chaotic month. I’ve attached some fantabulous pictures of the various works in progress, again as a photo-diary of how things are getting on.

I did a little presentation for the village’s WI group as well last week, which was far more successful than I’d anticipated. Handing out flyers for my upcoming fundraising events, and a sponsorship form for my (still-stupid) bungee jump, it seemed like everyone gave me a donation or said that they would attend one of the events. It feels fantastic to have so much support from my local villagers. I can’t wait now for each one to happen, and to see who turns up.

My raffle ticket book for the raffle (surprisingly enough) also turned up today. Time to start selling! I’m thinking a pound a strip. I’m still collecting prizes from businesses and other places – I’m very good at getting freebies – so I already have some chocolate boxes, a voucher for Roe’s Farm Dairy, a £25 treatment at Earth Energies, and £20 for Bengal Spice, where part of the evening is being held. I must keep going!

Looking at visas today also made me realise that the departure date is starting to get quite close now. Up until this point I’d been very good at keeping calm and pretending to think about other things, but now I’M SO EXCITED. My internet history list is becoming increasingly dominated by India-related sites. So much so, that google keeps giving me ads for shalwar kameezes and flight comparisons, and deals for mobile phone rates to India. Stop it, I’m already excited enough! As soon as I step off that plane I’m going to have to grab the nearest mehndi tube and find a saree shop to release all the urges that have been building up for the past 3 years. Sigh, still two months to go.

I also met my supervisor at the charity over skype last week, and she seems spot on. We’ve agreed that I’ll be staying with a family for the first two months on a probationary period. I’ve also had a couple of offers to stay from my colleagues at work who have relatives in Bangalore, and both my (Indian) bosses are going back to the city whilst I’m there! It’s a small world.

Anyway, I’m off now to go and watch a Bollywood film. It might give me a temporary fix.

Dressmaking

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I realise I haven’t updated my blog in a couple of weeks. To explain why, I’ve made a little photo diary of what I’ve been up to…

Basically lots of sewing christmas crafty things for a stall I’m now booked onto for the Humberside WI’s christmas fair. Can’t wait! I’ve been making little favours, or bags to put sweets/jewellery/gifts into, and lots of tree decorations. I got all my fabric scraps out which are no good for anything else as they’re too small, spent hours ironing them all out, and had loads of fun designing my own patterns.

The favours took the longest to make surprisingly, even though they only required hemming and a line sewing for the tie to go through. In contrast, the tree decorations look amazing and are really quick. I’ve probably only spent four or five hours on them so far and all I have left to do is stuff them and stitch up the gaps. That’s for about 50 as well, so on average each will be about 10 minutes to make.

I’m also super-busy trying to organise an evening with the local Amnesty International group in Scunthorpe, and still gathering sponsorship for my bungee jump. I got an article in the local rag last month too – nearly half a page spread! Hopefully people will be interested in what I’m doing and want to help support me.

Enjoy the pics. I’ll post some new ones up from the next thrilling event in the build-up to India!!!