26 October 2011

Back in the Saddle

18 degrees at Manchester was nice for England in autumn but going straight to 38 degrees in Abu Dhabi was a bit of a shock to the system.  Fortunately, the Crowne Plaza hotel has perfectly adequate air conditioning.  It also has the best beds ever.  It wins this trip’s prize for biggest and most comfortable beds complete with good pillows.  Hey, these things are important when you’re tired and ratty and starting to feel jetlag even though you’ve only completed a third of the journey home.  I hate this bit of every trip – planes suck when you’re in Sardine Class, Anchovy Class, Packed Herring Class.  All airlines seem to have invented fancy names for Economy (Etihad calls it Coral Class, for example), but the end result is the same for all of them – lots of being squished for extended periods.  We don’t mind Abu Dhabi as a stopover location, though, and will think about it for the March trip next year but probably also include a stop in Singapore as well to break up the flight.

It’s amazing the variations on the burqua you see at airports in this neck of the woods.  They range from an entire body covering where you can’t even see the lady’s eyes because they are behind a gauze of fabric, through to just a cursory scarf that’s not covering much at all.  My least favourite version is one that for some reason covers all the hair, but on the face covers the eyebrows, has a thin bar down the nose, and then covers just above the mouth.  It has the unfortunate result of making the lady in question look like she has a big black mono-brow and an impressive moustache.  There are lots of hennaed hands, too, and the designs are lovely.  All the western passengers stand out because they are so ordinary looking.

Next stop Singapore (after an 8 hour flight – can’t wait) then a quick shop in the Duty Free and another 7 hours to Australia.  I hate international flights.  All this bumph people say about it being about the journey and not the destination is said by people who either don’t travel very much or who get on the plane and turn left (towards Business and First Class), or who sensibly avoid planes altogether and travel via luxury ships or trains where they have their own suites.  Unfortunately, this would add a few months to every buying trip, so we’re stuck with planes.  And I will continue to bleat about how hard my life is until I find a way to justify spending the dosh I would need to spend for a Business or First Class ticket, instead of using the money to buy quite a lot of stock for the shop.  Can’t do both right now, which sucks.  When we travelled internationally on Government business we always went Business or First Class, and my memory isn’t so dementia-riddled yet that I can’t remember how much better it was.  Rooster to Feather Duster I think it’s called.  Still, on balance the Feather Duster life has more going for it and I guess that’s why we’ve made that choice.  So on balance I should stop bleating now, shouldn’t I?  Bleating has ceased.

So now a week has passed and we’re ensconced back in Eumundi.  Started selling jewellery immediately, as we always do, plus some very nice cutlery.  The bulk of our new stock won’t arrive in Australia until 6 December, and that’s forever away.  And after it’s arrived we will still have the Customs/Quarantine palaver, which they always say will take 3-4 days but always takes about 2 weeks. 

We’re almost over jetlag, although I’m still waking promptly at 3.00am.  Last trip I was really hammered and took more than a week to recover, and this time it seems a bit better.  Thank goodness for civilized opening hours in the shop, which means we can take our time and potter about before the ten minute drive to work.

The moggies are reacting well to being back at work, which is good because they are Working Cats and are expected to earn their keep.  Even Mischka is being a good girl, although I know this is a trick and she is just lulling me into relaxing my guard for as long as it will take her to go and jump on the jewellery cases or otherwise be naughty.  Klaatu is his normal dependable self on Wednesday and Saturday Market Days and snoozes the day away, interrupted only by admiring fans who want to rub his belly or photograph him.  He loves a good belly rub, though, so he’s always amenable when his fans approach him for an audience.

Now I will spend the next few weeks doing as much advance work as possible to prepare price and descriptor tags for the incoming stock – all that I can recall clearly enough, that is.  We bought well over 1000 items, so some of the recollections are a bit hazy and those pieces will have to wait until I can see them again.  Meanwhile we still have furniture items from the April trip that have yet to appear in the shop, and they can now come out to replace items that sold while we were away.  So there’s no rest for the wicked, as they say, and plenty to be going on with.

And looky-here, I've developed a modicum of technical skills and have been able to download some photos.  I thought I'd better start with the Shop Managers.  The pictures turned out somewhat bigger than I was expecting, but I'll work on that.  So now I can formally introduce Artemis, Klaatu and Mischka, our furry shop managers.  Feel free to come and visit them whenever you like.

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