What a Relief

“Am I enjoying retirement? “I get asked when I’m stopped in the street.


Well, the news is that I’ve been to work!


A week last Saturday I was called off the bench and turned out for Stoke Canon http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stoke_Canon


I have driven through it before on the way to Exeter and I know it floods a lot and brings the rail network to a grinding halt but I knew very little about it.


I got the call from Janet at Stoke Canon Post Office as she was going on a much needed holiday and wanted someone to cover a few days both in Stoke Canon and Silverton.


My first day’s work in over 3 months was a couple of weeks ago. I popped down on the Friday to get the feel of the place and the PO system again.


Since we ‘retired’ in the middle of March they have tinkered with the way the post is charged as they have now more size categories. A replacement plastic device is now used to split the size of packages into 4 categories.


They also have the Lottery in the shop that was something new to me. Whilst the tickets and scratch cards are sold in the shop you have to account for them on the PO computer system – it looked over complicated to me.


The Post office is behind a glass screen in the corner of the local shop but luckily I had only to deal with the PO elements.


My view outside was not as good as in Bampton. Image


Not much to see and capture for the blog I am afraid.


One of the first customers asked me “ Have you got the forms for the scarecrow competition?” I replied “Not that I am aware of, as I’ve only been here 5 minutes”.


A chap with a speech impediment came in with a plastic bag containing a couple of empty sweet containers. He thrust them at me and as I was behind the screen I had to open the parcel hatch to reach them. It didn’t look like they were to be posted so I enquired what I was to do with them. Even after several attempts of trying to understand him I couldn’t work out what he wanted me to do with them. So I put them behind me out of the way. The customer was okay with that but then he asked “Do you go to the dentist?” – I understood that.  “Of course” I replied, at which point I was then given an insight in the cause of his speech impediment – remember I am squeamish.  Evidently he had gone into hospital for some dental work and it had gone wrong and caused him some brain damage.  Fortunately another customer came in before he got into the gory details of the operation.


I managed to survive the four-hour stint and got away with not processing the lottery input as one of the ladies that work in the PO came in to do it for me. When she came in I asked about the empty sweet boxes and the answer to the puzzle was that the chap and his brother bought cream donuts from the shop on a Monday and they were packed in the boxes so they didn’t get damaged.  I would never have worked that out from the poor chaps mutterings.

I also enquired where the toilet was, just in case.

I couldn’t believe the response. I had to use the ‘facilities’ of the hairdressers next door. If they are working, I had to go out of the shop, around the building, knock on the door of the salon and pop in and use the toilet. If the hairdresser’s was closed then it can be reached through the back of the shop as then you can walk through the salon to the loo.

I just hoped I would not be in a rush to go. 


After a weeks rest, following my exertion I set off early last Monday morning for Stoke Canon for a full days toil, yes 9 until 5:30 with no lunch break.


It was a reasonably busy day, as Mondays are, especially in the morning.


Here was my view of the world for about 9 hours. Image


One customer came in and said “ I haven’t seen you for a long time”. I couldn’t think of a suitable reply as I’d never seen her before in my life.


I survived the day apart from I tried to buy some euros from a customer when I should have been selling them to him.  I did have to charge him an extra £40 or so to make it correct.


I lasted all day without going to the toilet so I never tested out the procedure.


Tuesday I set off again down the same road but this time I was working at Silverton Post Office, so a sharp left off the main road to Exeter as if heading towards Killerton House.


I waited for Janet to arrive so she could show me how things happened at Silverton however the first customer rolled up well before she did so I to keep him talking.


Silverton is a bit of a sleepy village, however, this time I had to also serve the customers making purchases in the shop as well. The worse problem was the greeting cards – all these suppliers with special codes on the back to determine the price. At least the toilet was more accessible –through the back door of the cubicle then though the sorting office.


Here was my view for the day. Image


I was feeling like I was David Blane being cooped up in that glass box for hours on end.


A woman came in and said, “ You’re a man”.

Well spotted, I thought to myself. 

Evidently all the regular PO staff in both Stoke Canon and Silverton are female so it was a bit of a shock for the customers to see one of the opposite s*x through the glass.


The customers were few and far between and I was glad I took my kindle along as it filled up the time. A ginger cat popped into to see me for a few minutes. It wandered around, had a rest under the chair then meandered off down the road. I think it must have been a regular. 

I did have to swap over some posters in the window.


This supper club notice Image


I hope it’s good grub for that price. 


This was a sight just to my right all day. Image


A rack of chocolates and sweets and it was good that the glass was there to help me resist.


I did have a look at the local newsletter, Image


It was similar to the Bampton signpost and several of the people in the photograph did call in.


I went to the toilet. 



Wednesday morning it was back to Stoke Canon.


All this work must have got to me as when the phone rang I picked it up and said ‘Good morning, Silverton Post Office”. That confused them!


Wednesday is normally a quiet day and I was making inroads to my books on the kindle when the phone rang again. “Hello, Stoke Canon Post Office” I said. The caller replied “Are you busy as I have lots of change to bank. When is a good time to bring it in?”

“Tomorrow as I am not here,” I said in jest. 

As it was quiet I said come whenever you can. 20 minutes later a chap struggled in with a bag full of coins. I went out of the cubicle to take it off him and struggled to bring it back in. I unzipped the bag and the list inside showed that I had over £2500 of change to check. Then the customers rolled in of course. I had hardly seen a soul all day then seven arrive together just when I need 20 minutes to sort out the coins.


The driver from parcelforce came in to collect some parcels and it was the guy that used to collect from us in Bampton about 5 years ago so it was good to see a familiar face and have a chat.


I did have to go to the toilet, but only once and around the building option.

When I got home and was getting changed out of my WORK clothes I spotted these guys enjoying their Fish and Chip supper.


It is a regular sight seeing people sat in their cars, stuffing their faces with food from the chippy up the road. 

In the evening we watched the latest Bond film, Skyfall, and guess what, we saw JB wandering along the same beach where we were only a fortnight ago. Image


Thursday, a day off, so no need to set the alarm.


At 07:30 the electricity was cut off and when it came back on my others half’s phone bleeped on reconnecting to the charger and woke me up!


And would you believe it the same thing happened at 08:30 so I just had to get out of bed.


The weather forecast was for a rainy day but from Friday it was going to be wall-to-wall sunshine so I thought I would stay in and continue my quest to précis the history of Bampton Twinning from the minutes, which I did.

At about 1 o’clock I thought it was time for a spot of lunch so I ventured out to the fruit & veg shop for some salad stuff. Guess what, the wall-to-wall sunshine had already started.


So after lunch it was into the garden for some rays.


My other half provided me with this Image


A Bampton cream tea.  


A ‘homemade’ scone, which had been prepared by my other half at SCONE MAKING MASTERCLASS WITH CREAM TEA FINALE at the Toucan  http://www.toucanrestaurant.co.uk on the Wednesday while I was slaving away in Stoke Canon.


The scone was dressed with some Weston’s clotted cream that is from a farm at the back of our house, and as I could not find any jam, I topped it with some fresh local raspberries. As I am not a tea drinker I had to wash it down with some ale. PURRFECT.


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