I drove out for the first time since Christmas – any significance being just that it was the first time since the Christmas Eve flooding. A house in the village had several piles of sodden carpet outside and the house next door still had sandbags leaning against the garage. As I drove down Bridge Road, there was more of the same and the houses at the end, where the ground is lowest lying, had builders, cranes and lorries outside. It was rather sobering.
The newsagent is closing down, which means that the post office, housed inside the shop, already has. I went to pay my final bill. We have pre-paid vouchers for our papers – and they were posted off to the new company that’s taking over deliveries, back on the 17th December. It didn’t occur to someone, presumably the manager, to sort out customers’ accounts to the end of the year before that was done. The knowledgeable, helpful J looked tired and harassed. I assured her that it didn’t matter. I’d sort it out with the company and they’d reimburse me and send back the remaining vouchers. Because it had been assumed that everyone would just carry on with the new company, based in Stoke on Trent, but we’re not. We had a nice note through the door from a small local business which is offering a delivery service. This will suit us much better. When we go away and cancel the papers, we simply pick up the vouchers and use them wherever we are, usually at Tim’s house or Pembrokeshire. It really won’t be very convenient to do that if we have to keep posting them. Anyway, I rang up the company and the vouchers haven’t been processed yet, which isn’t surprising, but at least I’ve cancelled delivery and been promised a return phone call. Two businessish phone calls in a morning quite unnerved me and I needed a little sit-down after that. The nice local chap’s delivery charge is half the price of the newsagent and still appreciably less than the replacement service; not that this was why we chose it, but the difference is well over £100 a year.
The snow forecast has been cancelled but it’s still pretty cold. The chickens don’t mind being shut up at all, especially Jabba the Cluck, the remaining big black hen, who’s moulting worse than ever. She asks for treats (and pecks if she doesn’t get them, hence Jabba), so seems to be perfectly well. While I was bending over the feed bin, getting her some mealworms, one of the naughty young bantams hopped up onto my back and fiddled with my hair. Perhaps she thought it was worms or spaghetti.
The greengrocer says that a member of his family, not one he lives with but saw briefly a few days ago, has tested positive. So he’s shut the shop for a week, just in case.