A. Too busy to blog…b

Just coming up for air after a frenzied 10 days.  Christmas shopping?  No.  Writing the cards?  No.  Planning the mega-Christmas lunch?  No.  Buying presents?  No.  we’ve got to start all those things now.

So what have we been doing?  Well, quite a lot of mistletoe stuff, naturally.  Plus Caroline’s just taken voluntary redundancy from work – so that was a Big Thing to cope with –  and to look forward too.  The end of 19 years with British Waterways.  A very Big Event.  And we’ve still not quite got over my resignation from BW back in June.  That was the end of 22 years with them.  Also a Big Event.  January 2007 onwards will be interesting…

But what about mistletoe??   Lots of work with TEME helping handle the online mistletoe orders – responding to queries and driving up to Tenbury Wells to help with the packaging and dispatch.  Not hard work, but it is very time-consuming.  Dispatch has been greatly helped by our use of TNT this year – who come and collect the packages instead of us taking them to the Post Office.   And they do next day delivery by default.  In theory…

In practice it doesn’t work that way, not at Christmas, and we’ve had a few significantly delayed packages and concerned, but ultimately contented, customers.  But with TNT we can track where they are, or where TNT say they are.  Only one ‘angry’ customer so far though.  All the others have been very positive even with slow delivery.  Just had an email from Seattle about a delivery to there, which has taken well over a week (TNT don’t do overnight to there!), reporting that the mistletoe is "in great shape and looks beautiful".  Compare that to our lone ‘Angry of Harrogate’ who is rightly annoyed about a week’s delay in delivery but is quite rude about it and asks for us to take the mistletoe back!  Why?? 

Actually "Angry" is one of those customers who didn’t read the website properly or fill in the order form fully – we’ve had quite a few of those, mostly missing out the essential "’when would you like your order delivered?" information.  This is something we must solve in future – we need to force customers to fill this information in before completing checkout – at present they can just ignore it.

Which is another reason I’ve been busy recently – I’ve been upgrading my website design skills – from, er, the current lowish level to something a bit better.  I do several sites at present – several mistletoe ones , Gloucestershire Biodiversity, Stroud Civic Society, Romany Society etc, but none of these are very sophisticated.  And I want to redo them all in XHTML and CSS.  Not very advanced yet – but with the help of the good ol’ Open University should be better soon.  Just completed (yesterday) Part 1 of their Web Applications Certificate.  Should have a lot of this stuff sussed by next Christmas.

Another interesting development last week was the appeal for help from another mistletoe supplier – who ran out of stock and needed to fulfill last orders.  I won’t name them as they might be embarrassed, but let’s just say they like roses.  Anyway, their last big order was to Hemel Hempstead School – who wanted mistletoe for their last day of term – which they call Mistletoe Day (not to be confused wuth the real Mistletoe Day).  We had 24 hours to get 6 kilos to them – would TNT perform?  Yes! – though only by ticking the "by 9.00am" box.  We had been worried though, we’ve found that one ‘special’ delivery amongst a batch of ordinary ones tends to get overlooked by them.

That’s all for now, gotta go Chrsitmas shopping…

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