26 May 2013

Changing priorities

My big birthday is quickly approaching and just before that is the ten year anniversary of my Mr and I's togetherness. It has flown and it has made me think about the last decade, how I've stayed the same and how I've  changed. 

Thankfully, I've managed to stay looking virtually the same in this time - probably in the most part due to having exactly the same hair do and not beefing up much. Attitude and priorities on the other hand seem to have changed. 

Ten years ago I was living with my parents, studying for my degree and most income was spent on new shoes, clothes and nights out. I wanted to move to a big city, drink cocktails and be with my friends all the time in a big bubble of hedonism. I wanted a house or flat to rent with a yard because I hated gardening and wanted to just have space for deck chairs and a BBQ. 

Today I sit outside a house I have bought with my husband in our garden in my suburban hometown. We have mostly spent the bank holiday gardening and planning a vegetable patch and trying to figure out time to see our friends who are all busy with similar grown up people decisions. Unbelievably, I couldn't be happier, despite all the things I wanted being so far from what I want now. I'm not sure I could convince my 19 year old self of that though!

21 May 2013

Business Sense vs COMMON SENSE?

I've been watching the series by Mary Portas about saving the British High Street. It's been a very interesting and sobering watch, viewing evidence of the state of the country and realising it's not just 'Up North' that's being hit this hard.

Stockton - a nearby town to where I live - is one of the Portas Pilot Towns and as I understand it, it wasn't worth her while coming and using this as one of the examples for the series because it's currently like a building site. It's a shame because I would have liked to see her wave her magic wand over somewhere closer to home so we would be able to personally appreciate the benefits of all this sooner than expected.

If I were to have a conversation with anyone about what I thought we could do try and boost our declining localities, I think the first step would have to be in the direction of landlords. Since everywhere you go and look, you seem to see empty shop units and offices, it makes a lot of sense to me for rent to be reduced to give small business a sporting chance. Things are hard enough in this climate without rocketing/high rent costs. The responsibility also falls with the government and local councils to reduce business rates. Both these things don't have to be a permanent reduction but maybe on a common sense basis depending on the economic circumstances at the time. After all, are units not better being used and bringing in some money than derelict and earning nothing? Encouraging small to medium enterprises into unused buildings will kick start the funds for the council and the landlords and will also help surrounding businesses by increasing footfall. When I've read some information about the Portas Pilots, in fairness, these seem to already be recommendations or guidelines which is a good sign.

There are plenty of unemployed people in this country, and I imagine there's a healthy proportion where they do want to work. Our local uni, Teesside University, offers a scheme for small businesses to have a graduate work for them for 'free' where they are actually paid by the university, therefore they get paid experience and you get a worker for a temporary period. If more voluntary posts/subsidised posts were advertised, I'm sure it would help people get confident and get back into work and would also take pressure off small business, who can ill afford staff, in potentially busy periods (e.g. Christmas).

If people used a bit more common sense, perhaps things would gradually get better. We just all need to look out for one another and become a community again. Traditional values and attitudes need to make a comeback and then we might catch a glimpse of the glory days we all seem to look back on so fondly.

My first sewing machine

I got this beautiful thing in a British Red Cross charity shop on Monday. It was a bargain and just needs a bit of TLC. Can't wait to use it :) Any first project advice would be greatly appreciated but I know once I start I'll never stop!!!