Wednesday 27 September 2017

If you don't love it, someone else will. How much stuff do we really need? Selling with eBay.

My Dad died suddenly in July this year. I was over from Dubai where I divide my year with my husband and his job and the adult children and my parents and family in the UK.

Like a lot of people his age, my father had collected a lot of stuff. He was from a generation where you reused things, kept things in case they came in handy and from an age where things grew in value and weren't disposable or easily replaced. You saved up and bought good quality items that would last for years.

So when Mumsnet offered me the opportunity to work with them and eBay, I decided to give eBay a go. I'm not sure I've ever sold through there, but I had an account which I'd purchased one or two items from, mainly for the children many years ago. Mum and I started selling the specialist items such as the train set and toy cars and some sports gear and made a few successful sales. We sold the fishing gear at a loss, but we needed the space in the garage to sort through other items. We've arranged for an auction house to collect some of the bulkier stuff and a couple of items have been sold on local face book groups. Several car boot sales have been done also. Next was selling the house and finding somewhere else for Mum to live and getting rid of Dad's 13 year old Jag which all took it's toll on me, but I finally succeeded this morning and decided I now had time to enter the world of researching some interesting finds from around the house to sell on eBay.

Once I reset my password and found my pay pal account details, it was a really simple process using my laptop. As soon as I started to type a description I was offered suggestions of similar items to choose from for listing, I could add photos and a further description, select from drop down boxes and choose a reserve price, length of time to sell, 'buy it now' option and there were suggestions for recommend sale prices. I found several helpful 'tips' as I proceeded on fees and free listings and P&P costs and alternative methods of shipping and collections and eBay saved my preferences for future sales.

I had a few issues with my laptop transferring pictures so I switched to the app on my mobile phone, which made my life a lot easier and a lot quicker and I'll be listing as much stuff as I can over the remaining few weeks before I return to Dubai. I've taken items to the post office, weighed them and checked postal costs so it'll be easy for Mum to post them out once they sell.

So far the money from everything we've sold has gone towards funeral expenses, bills, moving etc so it will be nice to raise some funds to do something nice for Mum and maybe she can have a break to Dubai over the winter months while she waits for the contracts to exchange on her house.

Below are a couple of items I've already listed on eBay.

 Bruce Forsyth Tram
 Golf Balls from Las Vegas
 1st Edition TV Times
Panini 1978 World Cup Sticker Album Complete.

I had an offer via the message system, within 20 minutes of listing, for the Panini Sticker Album, it would appear I didn't do my research thoroughly enough, so I'm taking my chances on people bidding on it and will see if I can get a higher offer, nearer the end of the listing period.

“I am a member of the Mumsnet Bloggers Panel, a group of parent bloggers who have volunteered to review products, services, events and brands for Mumsnet. I have not paid for the product or to attend an event. I have editorial control and retain full editorial integrity. [I have received a voucher as a token of thanks for this post].

Tuesday 26 September 2017

Days out, WITHOUT kids - Wookey Hole

Peter and I spent a few days in Lyme Regis in September, we have friends who own a fishing boat there and while the men go fishing, the women go shopping, drink tea and visit craft shops and local markets.

We've done this on and off for the past 17 years, more off then on since moving abroad, but something we'd like to do more of when we move back to the UK in the next 2-3 years.

We visit outside of school holidays, when it's quieter, cheaper, roads are less busy and there are more options for accommodation, plus it's cheaper for Peter and I to visit the UK at these times of the year.

On our way home and on a whim we decided to call in at Wookey Hole, somewhere neither of us have been since the children were small, we booked tickets online in the car park and saved 20%.

The grounds are lovely, with the River Axe bursting out from under the rocks, yet inside the caves the water is so deep it seems that it isn't flowing. Fairy gardens and picnic areas and ice cream huts are dotted around and life sized dinosaurs and Unicorns as well as King Kong decorate the path to the paper mill.

We arrived in time for a tour of the caves and only waited 15 minutes in a queue with lots of other middle aged couples looking for something to do on a wet day in Somerset. The tour guide was very informative but I felt the pitch was still aimed at families with children.

The caves aren't suitable for anyone with mobility issues and pushchairs and wheelcahirs can't be used inside. If you're claustrophobic, acrophobic (have a fear of heights) or suffer with vertigo or unable to bend to avoid low hanging rocks, I really wouldn't recommend it

Either due to the weather or the fact it was out of school time a lot of what was advertised on the website was unavailable such as the cheese tasting, panning for gold, paper making demonstration, clown show and most importantly there was no appearance from the Witch of Wookey Hole. This is something that should be on the front page of the website.

Despite this we had a great time and were able to wander in and out the attractions at our own speed after the tour of the cave finished, we stopped for lunch, before having fun in the hall of mirrors. It's quite disorientating to be able to see Peter in front of me, but to hear and know that he is behind me.

The clown museum was fun to visit. I know some people find them creepy and scary, but that's how the horror movies have portrayed them.

We spent our pennies wisely in the Victorian arcade and I actually laughed along with the some of the displays. There was no queuing or waiting for any of the attractions which was nice and we didn't have to give way to parents pushing their kids forward to make sure they got a turn, despite the fact we'd paid the same price to enter, which is a big bug bear of mine.

I've no idea what these 'wonky' mirrors are called, but we had a lot of fun with them at the entrance to the obligatory walk through the gift shop before we could exit, stopping to buy a couple of gifts for our 6 year old niece.

Before returning to the car park we collected putters and balls for a round of crazy golf, normally priced at £4 which was included free on the day of our visit. We started off quite competitively, then relaxed and even scored a hole in one. I declared myself the winner, when on the last hole, Peter put his ball out of play in the water and we couldn't retrieve it.

With a bit more planning for our trip (if we'd had any clean clothes with us) we'd have stopped over in the hotel where prices started from £39 and could've explored near by Glastonbury, Cheddar Gorge or shopped at Street the following day.

We enjoyed our day so much that we're planning to more of this tourist stuff next time we're both in the UK together, let me know if you've got a favourite place you think we'd like to visit.

Sunday 24 September 2017

My Sunday Photo - Week 143 Q is for Quirky, Queer and Quality

Peter and I visited the Autumn Show at the 3 Counties Show Ground in Malvern on Saturday. We lived in Malvern prior to emigrating and attended all the shows there every year, usually with kids, parents and friends. 

This year, our first time back in 7 years, it was just the 2 of us and we had great fun exploring without having to meet the needs of others and spent way too much time in the wonky and giant veg tent wondering if any of this when grown to this size actually tastes as good as the normal sized ones and who the hell has the patience or the tools needed to peel and cook it all.

One Daily Positive - Week 38

An up and down week emotionally, but as Peter says that's normal for me and I'm starting now to think about when I'm returning to Dubai. Mum's house is sold, so need to find somewhere for her to live, find the teen a job and a home, get the tax return completed and a few blogging assignments written and I'll be off. I expect to be done in the next 3-4 weeks.

260 Sunday Relax
Peter and I went for a walk around the town and took a couple of short cuts across the fields, then ended up taking us well out of our way. Child 2 and 2a joined us at my Mum's for a Sunday roast.

261 Monday Yay!
Took the last of Dad's stuff to the skip today, not an easy task throwing videos and tins of paint away, should be an easy job, but it wasn't. The staff were great and helped out by saving me the stress of sorting through all the paint and oil.

262 Tuesday My Desk
Took Mum to Newport to meet up with Dad's friend who he's known since the day they were born and who with his wife, who died 5 years ago, were Mum and Dad's best friends. Mum then had an appointment at the Royal Gwent and the evening was spent in the flat catching up with blogging stuff.

263 Wednesday Sweet
Collected the teen from Stratford and drove home through the Cotswolds, stopping off at Bourton on the Water for lunch and Ice Cream.

264 Thursday Depth
Not a good day for me, I feel overloaded, can't do right for doing wrong, trying too hard, not doing enough and admitted defeat, sending Peter out for the day with child 1, 2 and 2a while I got rid of a potential migraine and lined up some house viewings for Mum for next week.

265 Friday Water Splash - Splashing out with family and friends
I won't be with Peter for his 60th birthday in October so I invited family and friends to join us for a birthday meal to celebrate early before he flies home on Sunday. This was the early part with the family, our friends joined us afterwards for a table for 20. I'm sure we'll have a few celebrations back in Dubai also.
2, Hubby Thing 2, Sister, her partner, Thing 3, Nephew in law, Niece, thumbs up from 5, Mini me, Mum, Thing 1 and Me.

266 Saturday Fly
Up early and after coffee with Peter's Mother, we spent the day at the Malvern Autumn Show. We lived in Malvern before we emigrated and this is the first time we've been back to one of the shows and the first time we've been without kids, parents or other people and it was lovely to wander around at our own speed, have a picnic, browse the stalls and watch the sheep dog show without having to consider other people's needs.

On the blog this week:

My Sunday Photo - C is for Cave. Another day out just Peter and I to Wookey Hole.
Triumphant Tales and TweensTeensBeyond - A Care Package for a Soldier. My son in the Middle East.
PoCoLo - What not to flush down a toilet.

Wednesday 20 September 2017

Toilet humour

Well it's obviously been an issue at some point in time for signs to be put up.

I've never considered flushing clothing down a toilet, have you?

These are common signs in South African toilets, trust me, you'll be very grateful that the instructions are followed.

What's the strangest toilet sign you've seen?

Tuesday 19 September 2017

Care package for a solider

My son, child 4, was deployed to the Middle East this summer. He's based in the UK and I live in Dubai. I've spent the summer in the UK and will return to Dubai in October. I visited him and his girlfriend and her family in June and sadly as my father passed away in July, they both spent a lot of time on the mainland with me before he was deployed. I've seen far more of child 4 than I normally would.

We chat most days on social media and skype weekly, post flits too and fro also. But while he's based in the Middle East it's more important to me and him that we keep the channels of communication open as much as possible.

The British Army offer a free service for family members of soldiers, when they are based abroad to send 'gifts from home' free of charge via the Post Office using a BFPO number, up to 2kg in weight and recommend packing items in a shoe box.

Now I am a dab hand at packing shoe boxes having worked as a volunteer for 5 years with the Santa Shoe Box Project in South Africa where in Pretoria as part of a team we collected and distributed up to 10,000 shoe boxes to disadvantaged children in the area, with 110,000 collected countrywide.

Due to personal circumstances, this will be the first year I've been unable to take part in the project. We lived in Pretoria for 4 years, before moving to Dubai and I returned last year for 6 weeks to help out. I hope to back on board next year.

Like the Santa Shoe Box Project there are certain items that can't be packed in boxes and requirements for the way items are packed.

Toiletries and liquids must go in zip lock bags to prevent spillage.
Chocolate melts in temperatures in excess of 30c. Pack sweets and high energy snack bars instead.

Now my son has access to shops on base, he can pretty much get everything he needs, he just has preferences and somethings such as toiletries are expensive.

When you're 1000's of miles away from home and as an expat I know and appreciate how lonely and difficult it is, any contact with family and friends, regardless of however small it is, is greatly received and as child lived with us in South Africa and took part in the SSB projects also, he's rather keen to receive his very own shoe box.

He's moaned a little at some of the stuff I've put in, no doubt I've probably caused a few raised eye brows, but he has photo's, letters, sweets, toiletries, sun cream, playing cards, magazines, plasters, foot creams and what he doesn't want or need he can share with his colleagues or those who maybe don't have family or family who realise just how lonely and isolating it can be living so far from home.

I've got 3 themed boxes lined up to send as well as the regular ones for my mum to post out at set times. There's a Halloween one, a Christmas one and one for his Birthday.

There are a couple of rules and tips on packing a box which are:

  • Keep the box plain, don't identify the country where the solider is deployed to and write your return address inside the box.

  • Write the number of the box and date sent on the outside, that way the receiver will know if they're missing a box.

  • Write messages and decorate the inside of the box. Pick up postcards of where you've been and just write random messages.

  • Don't wrap individual items, customs may check the contents.

  • Wait to seal the box until you've had it weighed at the post office, put the roll of selotape inside the box, as tape can add a few grams to the parcel, once you've got the weight right, remove the roll and seal the box.
One final tip........

Don't forget the girlfriend, send her a box too.

You can read more here about my Santa Shoe Box Journey 

This service is for family members only and the military personal (male or female) will give you a BFPO number with the details you need. The box is sent to a UK address where they are then forwarded to where they are posted.

There are registered organisations who allow individuals to send parcels out to support troops in the front line where you can pack similar boxes, there are plenty to be found on google, but I have never used any so cannot endorse or recommend.