Tag Archives: Royal Mail

julzcraftstore.com – a quick update…

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blackshopcardFor those of you who seem to be checking this blog out on a regular basis, to see when the new website will be live – I can only apologise!

Well, I did say it would take some time to get THE STORE up and running!  And its certainly taking a lot of time!  I never realised it was going to be so complicated, and as I am not a ‘techie’, its been a slow learning curve.

I just thought I could follow the instructions and then it would take some time to enter the 100+ listings for the stock I have in my living room!  However – its not quite that easy, and it turns out that I have been spoilt by the large selling sites that I have been using up to now.

Ebay and Etsy have a very comprehensive system for costing reasonably accurate postal rates – or shipping costs – as others call them, and I thought I could do better than them!

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It turns out to be a very complicated matter, because there are 4 shipping zones to cover, all of which have different tariffs for weight and size, and even if I put in the weight and dimensions of each item, it still wouldn’t give me an accurate price per parcel!  I have done a lot of research on this, even spoken to Royal Mail themselves – and nowhere in their repertoire is there any help for websites to set up their pricing system.  The Business Section, which will happily link in with ebay to offer you cheaper postage – had never heard of a ‘plug-in’ for small businesses, and were utterly unhelpful!

When I contacted various other UK businesses and asked them how they had sorted out the problem, most of them said, they didn’t know, because they had employed a specialist to do their website – I’D NEVER EVEN CONSIDERED DOING THAT!

Having bought from various sites over the years, it seemed the best compromise would be to set flat rates for each shipping zone for the moment, and I even had trouble working out how to do that!  There are some +ve’s and -ve’s about using flat rates, and it would certainly put some of you off if I charged you parcel rate for an item that can be posted in letter form – so – head’s up for my readers – if you contact me before you put in your order for a small, flat item – like a badge or small signs etc – I will agree to refund you the extra postage that the system will charge – because I can’t find a way to be able to offer TWO FLAT RATES at the moment, and nor can the ‘Happiness Engineers’ at WordPress!

iuI aim to post WORLDWIDE, on the same basis, until I can come up with a better solution!

That said – there are a few more things I need to iron out before julzcraftstore.com – julz craft supplies – THE STORE – will go live – but it shouldn’t take too long now – cross fingers!

I hope some of you will come and visit when it does!

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Now Royal Mail can’t even deliver letters to itself!

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ceramic milk carton money box actually!

Yesterday morning, early, I’d run out of milk.  Exciting yes?  I’d got up about 4 am, thinking, ” I can’t write all these blogs without letting the local sorting office know”.   So I printed off copies of all the posts – yes printed them – and on my way to the newsagent,  (who still opens at 5 am, and somehow always manages to dress immaculately at that hour),  I posted the letter. It was a wad of pages in a white C5 envelope, on which I had scrawled, “TO ALL THE STAFF AT P……….SORTING OFFICE – hope you like this!”.  I also scrawled in the top right hand corner a little square and wrote “NO STAMP BECAUSE IT DOESN’T NEED ONE” (I’ve done that before, and its fine).   And  “What time is the collection from this box?” 

my nearest post box - says 7 am on saturdays

my nearest post box –says 7 am on saturdays

The only flaw in this plan was that there are roadworks in front of the local box I am on about (see pic – if you click on the caption, it will take you to the first blog) – the one with the notice that says, “Last collection – 9 am Mon – Fri – 7 am Saturday” and I doubted anyone would be collecting from it this week,  so I took the envelope down to the very reliable post box outside the Post Office, which is emptied several times a day.  It should have got to its destination before lunchtime, especially as that’s where the van goes with all the post that’s collected – to the SORTING OFFICE!

Later in the day, I got the email from Customers Services,  and,  because I felt I’d kept everyone informed, I didn’t worry about publishing it.  And despite having put some considerable time into this innocent query – it takes me ages to write and edit a long blog – I fully intended not to bother wasting any more time on it.  It is, on the face of it,  a very small concern.

And I certainly wasn’t going to contact The Escalated Complaints Resolution Team (what a name!), and play their game for months on end.  I was never after compensation, I just wanted to know whether, if I didn’t feel like getting dressed on a lazy Saturday morning, I could put a coat over my pyjamas, and slip down to the local postbox, with the large letter envelopes, and not have to bother going to the Post Office.  Hope that made you laugh!   The Post Office, and its post box, are a drive away.  The local postbox I can sometimes manage to get to without petrol – smile.

By an odd twist of fate ….. there was a failed parcel delivery.  The postman knocked when I was in the garden.  I didn’t hear him, and, several hours later, I found the red bordered notice on the floor, saying I’d have to go down to the Sorting Office, several miles away, to collect it.  I tut-tutted, and was annoyed he hadn’t delivered it to the designated neighbour.double new postbox pm_Fotor I went down to the Sorting Office this morning, having printed off a copy of the last blog for them, to pick up my parcel.  It’ll give me a chance, I thought, to ask them what time the collections ARE!

As I pulled the form from my sodden jacket, (there was a ferocious storm last night) so that he could find the parcel, I saw that the postman had put a note on the back, that the neighbours hadn’t answered the door.  I was inordinately pleased he’d tried, whoever he is.

I used know who delivered my post, and what time it came, and over the years there had been many friendly conversations.  The sorting office used to be down the road, and I was a frequent early morning visitor!  These days, you never know who’s doing the round, or when.

When I’d got my parcel, I casually pulled out the piece of paper in my pocket and put it down on the hatch top, and asked if the had got my letter yesterday.

What letter?  I described the letter as above.  No, I haven’t seen it? I think I was talking to the manager/supervisor because he had that attitude.  Who did you address it to?  To ‘all the Staff.’ Oddly he didn’t turn round and ask the lads sorting the mail behind him if they’d received it, and I know  they’d heard me, and no one came out to say, Oh yes, THAT LETTER! So I had to explain what was in it,  and that I’d brought the last instalment of the blog with me, and he looked at me in amazement. What post box are you talking about ?– I told him, and he immediately said

“Oh the last collection is after 5 pm”

close up of notice - last collection on saturday - 7 am, weekdays - 9 am!

close up of notice – last collection on saturday – 7 am, weekdays – 9 am!

I said, (this account is not verbatim),  then why has there been a notice on it for over a month,  saying that the last collection is 9 am on weekdays.  “Oh well.”

So I told him the story, that you can read here  in the earlier posts, about touring the area and looking at the notices on the boxes, and photographing them, because I was so bemused.  And he laughed.  And said, well you could have gone to the post office.  (But I was going to Asda’s, and that’s the other way – was what I wanted to say, but didn’t – and I hadn’t read the notice properly anyway.  Just seen 7 am last collection on Saturday!)

And then I told him I had gone to the Post Office afterwards and asked what this change in time was about, and they didn’t know, and I’d phoned up the Sorting Office and he or his colleagues didn’t know, so I wrote the blog, cos I thought it was ridiculous. And he laughed.  So I said: well are they going to switch over to the new times or not?   Ah well, we haven’t been told yet. And I said: well how will I know?  Er well, its on the box. No it isn’t: (no one has put another notice up to say its “business as usual”,  was what I’d meant to say.) Er well, it will be happening, cos they want to save money, Well I know that, I said.  But they’re not going to save any money because the two boxes with the 7 am notices on them, are on the van’s route anyway, he goes from – to, and I named the boxes – and the route. (I actually said what I wanted to say this time!)

Ah well, there are rural places where it would save money.doubledx4   Yes but they won’t save on this route so why change it?    They’re cutting back and this will save salaries –  two of the four vans,  and their drivers will be going.    (That means that two men were going to lose their jobs, don’t you care, was what I wanted to say.)

I was going to ask him to explain to me about the changes, but he was laughing at me. Instead I said, well that’s obvious, and I know that, but why can’t Customer Service people tell me when its going to change?    I did say. (…….   Or if its not happening soon, why don’t they tell me, and change the notice.)  Well that’s what I meant to say, but by this time the guy was looking at me as if I was an alien.)  He just stood there watching me without bothering to ……..

answer

apologise

say he’d phone up head office and find out

take my number and let me know

he just laughed at me……. My image of this encounter had been a cosy chat commiserating about the idiotic changes and asking them all to “Like” the blog, and pass it around so that it looked like there was loads of support for my little campaign.  

(which is not really about the postbox, I hope you’ve realised that by now!)

  Nor did he seem that bothered about the cuts.  His job was obviously safe.  So I ended up repeating several times “then why don’t head office tell me” and pushed the piece of printed paper towards him and said READ IT – JUST READ IT and walked out! It took me quite a while, and a walk round Tesco’s buying extra print cartridges for my printer, to calm down. But it still begs the question – why did an unusually addressed envelope, with no stamp, not arrive in the hands of the staff that were sorting it, and if it was addressed to them, why did no one open it, talk about it, and pass the information around?

Or is my title true, and Royal Mail can’t even deliver letters to themselves???

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Postscript:  

Later today,  I got another of the red bordered notices, and unlike last time, I actually looked at it. I couldn’t face going back to the sorting office, so I thought I’d phone and ask for it to be put on the van for Monday.  I phoned the number on the card and found it was an automated message –  a long introduction and: press 1 for….: press 2  for ……etc What amazed me was that it told me that I had to wait 48 hours before I could collect a parcel from the Sorting Office, and could only book a redelivery thro the website.  “Or you can have your item taken to a local Post Office branch for a small fee for you to pick up using our Local Collect service”.

if you look hard you can just about read this and decipher the 48 hrs inserted in the 1st paragraph, and the instructions I mentioned opposit.

if you look hard you can just about read this and decipher the 48 hrs inserted in the 1st paragraph, and the instructions I mentioned above.

I don’t belieeeve it – as Victor Meldrew used to say!

I wasn’t going to stand for this, so I tried looking up sorting office phone number in the directory: I couldn’t find it.  It was just after noon, and they closed at 1 pm – the parcel wouldn’t be available, but if I could phone, AND I could by-pass the arrangements above.

Then I remembered that the guy at the Post Office had written their number on a scrap of paper for me, when he had advised me to call them on 6 December – I thought I’d thrown it away, but after rummaging through some paperwork – I found it!

And I rang, and I’m sure it was the same man I’d spoken to earlier, but he wouldn’t acknowledge it.  He did, however, take my name & address and promise it would go out on Monday – hope I don’t miss it this time!

Oh dear, there is nothing more Royal Mail can do: they can’t tell me when the change in collection times are being implemented!

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“I can’t believe it” 

For those of you who read yesterdays blog, and the very reasonable set of queries I sent them,

this is Royal Mail Customer Services Reply!  Banner-template-email-receipt

Thank you for your further email.

I am sorry to learn that you are dissatisfied with my colleague’s previous response.  Unfortunately, there is nothing further I can add to what my colleague has already stated.

In the circumstances and in line with our Complaint Handling Process, may I respectfully suggest that you contact our Escalated Complaints Resolution Team, quoting your reference number xxxxxxx to escalate your complaint.  The Escalated Complaints Resolution Team can be contacted via email at:  customerresolution@your.royalmail.com. Alternatively, you can write to: Escalated Customer Resolution Team, Royal Mail, PO Box 466, PLYMOUTH, PL9 7HJ.

For further details regarding our Complaint Handling Process, please visit our website by following this link: www.royalmail.com/personal/help-and-support/how-do-I-make-a-complaint.

ALL I REALLY WANTED TO KNOW

Is what time the collections are at my nearest postbox

and whether it was worth using it!

Do I really have to escalate a complaint to find that out?

Royal Mail has finally replied to my query about collection times ……..

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If you have been reading my blog recently, you may have noticed that I have been “having a go” at the Royal Mail!

close up of notice - last collection on saturday - 7 am, weekdays - 9 am!

close up of notice – last collection on saturday – 7 am, weekdays – 9 am!

It all started with a small normal, everyday incident – I went to post some letters in my nearest post box, at 8am on Saturday 6 December, expecting them to be collected at noon, as usual.  First Class letters would then have reached my customers by Monday morning – probably (smile).

Before you stop reading this, thinking its a yawn, there was a point to my making a fuss.  I feared that local post boxes, with low volume use, would be withdrawn, after a “reasonable period”, by which time, no one would be using them because of the change in the collection policy.

The sorting office told me that the postmen & postwomen were losing hours and thus pay, because of the changes to collections, and delivery rounds ….. AND,  in the UK, people have always supported the Royal Mail, because until recently it was publicly owned.  It is now part-privatised, ie the government, and therefore you & me, still own some of the shares, which many of us will say, were sold too cheaply in the rush to Privatise.

Needless to say, it was a Conservative Policy, and they rushed it because they were afraid that the next government, should it be Labour, would not allow Privatisation.  Who knows, these days, what kind of government we will get in May 2015 ?

The result is unsatisfactory to both parties.  The government is still being asked to subsidise the service, whilst severe cuts are being made to it, and in my opinion, the promised investment in the service is NOT taking place.  It also seems to me, that by bringing in a total newcomer to the Royal Mail to run it, something called “experience” has been lost.  I’ve no knowledge of what its like working in Head Office, or on the “front line”, but I am assuming there is resentment on both sides within the service.

The new management have been tinkering with the postal rates, which are of course going up, but in particular the parcel rates have become a mess!

If, by any chance, you agree with me, could you please click the “LIKE’ button at the end of this blog, because, you will see below, that I have told them that I will be publishing their reply, and I am hoping they will actually see this blog!  It doesn’t matter whether you live in the UK or not, “LIKES” are relevant to the Royal Mail, because they have a reputation abroad too.  I will also be sending links to my MP and others.

post box outside the post office - says 12 noon

post box outside the post office – says 12 noon

This is a list of the blogs that particularly relate to this issue, in date order, just so you know what I’m talking about, you don’t need to read all of them, but I do recommend the first 2 if you want a laugh!

DOES ANYONE KNOW WHAT ROYAL MAIL IS DOING? It seems that I missed the 7am collection from my local post box – or did I?

ROYAL MAIL AND THE DISAPPEARING POST BOX – the saga continues …….

ROYAL MAIL – they REALLY don’t know what they are doing ……see previous 2 posts to make sense of this one!
WHY ROYAL MAIL IS LOSING OUT TO THE COMPETITION …..(£2.78 versus £11.99)

I didn’t get a reply to the query I emailed to the Royal Mail’s Customer Service on 6 December until the 7th of January, and just for the record, I hadn’t actually got it when I added the postscript to blog No 2 above.

I thought, that since I have been moaning about them, I should also put up their reply on this blog, together with my reply to them.  For the sake of easy reading I have put their reply first and mine follows, thus when I say “document below” it is now “document above”.  I have, again, “redacted” any personal information or names of customer service representatives.

Dear Ms B…….THEIR REPLY….double new postbox pm_Fotor

Thank you for contacting us about the changes we have announced in relation to our post-box network.

We are reaffirming our commitment to maintain our provision of post-boxes under the universal service. We are improving the level of public access to post-boxes in areas of under-provision, by adding around 2,000 boxes to the 115,000 we currently have. The new boxes will be targeted at rural areas, in particular in Scotland and Northern Ireland, as well as areas of new development not currently served by a post-box. Some will be added in high footfall areas such as railway stations and shopping centres.

In addition to this, low-volume post-boxes will move to ‘collection on delivery’ with the postman or woman emptying the box on their round, rather than providing a dedicated collection by van. Please be assured however that no post-boxes will be removed from service as a result of this initiative.

With regards to your specific query about the collection times of your local post-box being changed, I would like to explain that there has been a significant fall in the number of items posted in post-boxes, leaving many now not covering their costs. Rather than decommission uneconomic ones, we’re improving the cost effectiveness of collections. Emptying these low-use boxes on delivery enables us to be much more efficient going forward.

To elaborate, this means the post-box will be cleared earlier in the day. Please be assured that there will be no change to the ultimate delivery of the items you post because they will go through our system in exactly the same way. There should also be a later collection from another nearby post-box, typically in the late afternoon.

We have communicated our plans to Ofcom, Citizen’s Advice, Citizen’s Advice Scotland and Consumer Council Northern Ireland. Research shows that postal users are positive about the idea of moving collections, particularly from low-use boxes, to link with delivery. 91% of users did not choose their box based on collection time. Users understand this approach is more efficient and fitted with their desire for a more efficient postal service.

A notice is placed on every affected post-box four weeks ahead of the change to collection times. There will also be clear sign-posting for customers on the relevant post-boxes as to where their nearest late posting box is. I am sorry if this was still not in place at the time you were at the Post Box.

I hope you have found this information useful and that this explanation resolves your enquiry and concludes this matter for you. If there is anything else we can help you with though, please let us know.

Regards

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MY REPLY to their reply …..

Dear …..

Thank you for your reply, please note the following points:
1    This is a standard reply, that must have been formatted some time ago, why did you not send it to me at the beginning of December,  when it would have made a lot more sense to me and saved me the bother of having to investigate this myself.
2    Whilst I happen to have noticed the new collection times on the local post box on 6 December, I have no idea how long it had been  there.  During the next few days, I mentioned it to several of my neighbours, and no one else had noticed the new notice.  In fact  I happened to be in the pet shop, which is just beside another of the postboxes with the new collection times, two weeks later, when people were posting their Christmas cards, and none of them even checked, or looked, at the notice area.
3     Can I suggest that you put some short term stickers on the boxes affected, so people ARE aware of the changes.
4     It made a big difference to me that morning, because, as I told you earlier, I toured the area trying to find a postbox that would be emptied later, but as some said 12 noon and some said 7 am, it seemed that I couldn’t trust any of them.  So I ended up going into Asda, and posting my letters there, because to box said 9.30 am and the customer service desk told me that it was probably accurate! (I FORGOT TO ADD THAT, AT THE TIME,  I’D ONLY REALLY NOTICED THE 7 AM BIT ON THE NOTICE AND NOT SEEN THE INFORMATION ABOUT THE POST OFFICE BOX)
5     I also took photographs of all of the local boxes, and posted a blog about this, because there seemed no rhyme or reason to the  different times for collections, and it was only when I finally managed to visit the sorting office in P…….., again about 2  weeks later that I found out the reason.  For all that time, I avoided posting anything in my local post box, because I couldn’t  trust that anything would be collected, and if it was, I had no idea when it would be delivered.
6     Having not used that post box, which I assume you finally found in your records, I then found out that the changes were NOT coming  into effect immediately,  The assumption was that they would start this month.  Have they started yet?
7      Please be aware that I have now posted several posts on my blog – julzcrafts.wordpress.com – and they have been seen worldwide by  many people, especially as I have been doing a blogging course this week, and that has increased to followers of this blog a great deal.  I have also written to my MP about this, because I disagree with your policies – however reasonable your PR department has  made them seem in the document below.
8     I will, of course, be posting the document below, and this reply, on the blog in the next day or so, to keep my readers informed.
9      However, I only took these actions because I didn’t know the answers, and actually, still don’t, to my questions, and was very irritated  by the responses I got from you, and the delay in getting back to me.  I do understand that xmas and new year have contributed  to the delay, but a reasonable answer could certainly have been given to me when I first got in touch with you.
10    I have had some real inconvenience because of the way you have handled the change, and I would expect something more than a weak  apology.
Yours etc ….

PLEASE CLICK THE “LIKE” BUTTON NOW!……AND leave a comment.

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“the road less travelled” – my favourite poem and my favourite place ….

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NB:  This week I am following a “blogging101″ online course to learn how to blog more effectively.  
Please bear with me while I do my daily assignments, I obviously don’t usually write daily posts and if you are fed up with them – don’t read them – smile!  On the other hand, you might like to comment and let me know how I’m doing!

This is actually not the assignment for today, it was to try changing the blog title and subtitle, and I have tinkered around with the subtitle, to try and give a better idea of what this blog is about – but I’m still not sure I’ve got it right – so comments/feedback would be appreciated!

But somehow, because I’ve been reading a lot of other people’s blogs for this course, I have also been inspired to write this ………

The last few lines of Robert Frost’s famous poem, and one of my all time favourites,  “The Road Not Taken are :-

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— 

I took the one less traveled by, 

And that has made all the difference.

I should be showing a picture of a track in the forest here, but I don’t have one to fit – instead, this is one of my all time favourite places – at the southern end of the Brecon Beacons, and I want to tell you about a drive I took yesterday….

the route up, southern edge of the Brecon Beacons, just off the Trecastle Road

The road is just at the bottom edge of this picture, you park your car then take to the hills, crossing a river and follow a path that runs besides a tributary stream, full of small waterfalls. (This is said to be the start of the River Tawe, that runs into Swansea and then into the sea.)  Just under the ridge, that’s covered in snow in this picture, there is a lake.  Its stunning!  I’ve taken my swimming costume up there in summers past, and swum in it, with my dog!

The best thing about this place, is that its less than10 miles away from the rather forlorn ex-mining valley which I showed you pictures of yesterday – if you read all the way to the end of “Welcome to 2015“.  So when I’m in the mood for solitude and contemplation It takes me about 15 minutes to get there.

Yesterday wasn’t a day for walking – it was dull, misty and cloudy, and I had parcels to post for customers.  I mostly go to my local post office, but I was a bit miffed with him because when I went in on Friday, with a heddle (part of a weaving loom) to post to Italy, I had assumed it would cost me £5.75 to post, but he insisted that because it was a centimetre of two over 60 cm, it would have to go by the more expensive ParcelForce, and I was just about to say OK, when he told me the price – £27 something.

I’d had quite a chat thro’ the etsy site with the guy in Italy, and even reduced the price for him a bit because he didn’t have quite enough in his paypal account – so £27 was the price he paid for the heddle, and there was no way I wanted to disappoint him, but I wasn’t paying £27 for postage!  The price quoted was for a parcel and I pointed out that it could go as a tube, which WAS £5.75, because its thin and not very wide, but the post office guy objected to that because it wasn’t in a proper tube!

picture of a post box, just for fun - see my recent blogs about Royal Mail

picture of a post box, just for fun – see my recent blogs about Royal Mail

Well, we went back and forth about it, and I had to fetch the leaflet for him to check the allowed dimensions for a tube, which this item did fit!  And insisted it went as a tube.  He hummed and hah-ed over this – the queue behind were getting restless – and in the end he relented, but made a very heavy point of telling me it was at my own risk.

Actually, I am taking a risk, because the package might be rejected in the UK,  by my favourite gripe, the Royal Mail ( see my previous posts about them), or by customs in Italy, which Riccardo told me was the same as the rest of Italy at the moment – nothing works!

That done, I went home and looked to see if I could have posted it through an alternative carrier, and the cheapest was about £15, and was only located in London – all the rest were not far off the £27 mark.  I also deleted the international postage options from the listing, at least until Riccardo tells me he’s got the parcel, and had to tell him that it may not arrive, in which case I will not only lose the £5.75 postage, but the cost of the heddle as well, because the Post Office won’t compensate me if it gets “lost”, as it probably doesn’t really qualify as a tube, and it certainly won’t if I made a claim!

This is not a digression, really!  Its why, after nearly a year of forgetting they were there, I thought I’d go up to the even smaller post office about 3 or 4 miles away, on the route towards Brecon, and instead of going straight there, just carried on and went up the Trecastle Road.  (Well that’s my name for the little winding country road – off the main route – that goes to Trecastle and beyond – I don’t know whether it actually has a name or not!)

looking the other way, back towards swansea with the river in view

Time for another photo – which one shall I choose – I’ve taken loads of this place, and  got this one printed up as a poster.  Actually, I have to admit, the whole drive was a digression – I just fancied a change, but I hadn’t realised it until I started on the road …. and for some reason, again totally spontaneously, I passed by my usual parking spot, and carried up to the sheep grid (there are loads of sheep on this road), past the alpaca farm that has sacks of alpaca manure in the gateway for people to pick up and put 50p in the box (thinks, I must stop by there one day and actually ask if they sell their fleeces), and past the road I had intended to turn round at, to the edge of the forestry’s fir plantation, where there is a little track that I have stopped by many times, with my lovely sheepdog Sol – now no longer with us.

I have a secret …  that I don’t tell many people, but it doesn’t matter now …. so I can tell you – smile.

Sol was also originally from a farm, (like Tilly, the kitten in yesterday’s blog). They didn’t want to keep him and train him as a working dog, because he was a cross – I can never remember the name of the breed, but it was an Australian sheepdog, bred to have amazing stamina and energy, and to run for miles and miles.  And Sol had surely inherited that trait.

this is Sol as a puppy, also, coincidentally, in the snow on the Trecastle Road.

this is Sol as a puppy, also, coincidentally, in the snow on the Trecastle Road.

He had so much energy that I could never exhaust him, and when I took him for walks in the hills, I had to be really careful he didn’t get a chance to chase any sheep.

So what I used to do, was to take him to the point where this little road branches off, let him out of the car, and he’d run beside the car for a mile or so first, which just about got him tired enough not to pull on the lead so much that he got loose.

For some reason I never actually drove down this road, but on the slightly larger main route.  There was seldom much traffic on it, and what there was were farm vehicles, who weren’t bothered by this, and occasionally some tourist traffic that probably were a bit amazed by us, but never stopped to tell us off, and probably told the story of the eccentric Welsh to their friends when they got back home.

I think I was propelled by my memories of Sol to go there yesterday, it was a small homage to him.  I miss him still.

The car just turned into the smaller road, I don’t know how – and I thought – well, its about time I found out why there was a road here – and carried on, fully expecting it to peter out into a track thro the forest, with a gate restricting access.

 “The road less travelled” turned into miles of beautiful scenery, that I’d never encountered before.  I was on the other side of the mountain, and it was cathartic!  It felt like a symbol of a new start, taking a chance on 2015 and finding a new place to be.

Yes, I know it sounds a bit batty, and spiritual, but that’s what is was, I felt totally uplifted – and a bit worried that I wouldn’t find a way back home, as the road kept going on and on!  Actually, it turned back on itself and finally led me to Trecastle, and back onto the main road, and the small post office, and then back home. And no pictures, cos I didn’t have my camera with me!

Sorry for going on and on but I just had to tell someone – smile.  And its my birthday today – and no – I’m not telling you how old I am, you’ve had all the secrets I’m giving out today – smile.

I KNOW – I hadn’t CLIMBED THE MOUNTAIN – I’d gone around it.  

But it doesn’t matter – I saw the other side!

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— 

I took the one less traveled by, 

And that has made all the difference.”

julz signature

WHY ROYAL MAIL IS LOSING OUT TO THE COMPETITION …..(£2.78 versus £11.99)

Standard

OK – I’ve got a bit of a bee in my bonnet about Royal Mail at the moment – I was always against privatising it – and the privatisation process was botched, what ever Lord what’s his name has just announced in his parliamentary review!

white merino

100 gm of white merino tops/roving

As I post quite a lot of parcels, I have been very irritated over the past year at the changes Royal Mail have made to the cost structure.  They have restricted the sizes and increased the rates.  That’s actually meant that, as I sell quite a lot of wool in fibre form – for spinners to make into yarn – I have had to change the way I sell it.  I used to be able to stick it into a plastic bag, in its natural “ball shape” and go down to the post office and pay £2.20, if I remember rightly, to post whatever size it was, and I could send up to 750 gm for the same price.

a pair of carders used for preparing wool for spinning

a pair of carders used for preparing wool for spinning

That doesn’t mean I wasn’t annoyed when another of my popular items – carders for spinners – happened to sometimes weigh under 750 gm and sometimes just over 750 gm and I could never tell what bit of packaging made the difference! (About another pound or two in postage costs!)  Customers would get annoyed when they thought I’d overcharged them postage, and I’d be miffed if I’d set the price too low and made a loss!

When they changed the small parcel rate to 1 kg for £2.80 (2nd class), I no longer had a problem with the carders, but the wool ‘roving’ was a nightmare, as the box size was only 8 cm high.  That meant I could only send balls of wool for the medium parcel rate (£5.20) and tried every which way to avoid this, as sometimes the cost of the wool was only £3.

I tried to flatten the parcels, even bought a food vacuum machine, but the wool was either too compressed or not compressed enough.  I tried selling smaller amounts so I could fit them into the large letter rate,  which was fine for very small amounts, but if the letter was just over 2.5 cm thick, I then had to pay small parcel rate anyway!  (They put everything thro the size slots at the post office!)

Recently they have increased the height of a small parcel to 16 cm – for me that means that I can now post the 100 gm balls of wool, but not the 200 gm balls, cos wool is springy and however hard I try to tape it all up, it parcel seems to grow on my way to the post office – smile!  So I stopped buying in large quantities of fibres.

In fact I stopped selling altogether for a while, for a combination of reasons.  When I started selling again this October, I found  that there is a collection point for a private parcel service just a few more miles away than my local post office.  They don’t have such restrictive sizing for their parcels, and so the problem was solved.  I’ve just put an order in for a whole bale of white merino tops ……

I do still post most of my parcels through the post office, not only is it convenient, but I actually believe in giving local businesses my custom, and making an effort to ‘USE THEM OR LOSE THEM’.

weaving accessories, just a set of sticks measuring just over 61 cm long!

weaving accessories

I was in a hurry on Friday, and had several items to post, so I took them all down to the local post office.  I did have my doubts about one parcel – a set of weaving accessories that weighed under 1kg, but was just over the 61 cm allowed for medium parcels.  I thought I might just get away with sending it 1st class medium (£5.65).  It was carefully measured and pronounced too large for that rate, and I’d have to send it by the Parcelforce – express 48 (hrs) service – £11.99!

So I went home, got online, booked the parcel into the private courier service, printed out the label and then took it up to the drop off point.

COST:  £2.78! (plus a little extra petrol)

AND THAT’S WHY

ROYAL MAIL IS LOSING OUT TO THE COMPETITION!