This will be my last blog post for 2019 and I can hardly believe it’s that time of year again, but here we are and it’s Christmas. In just a few days it will all be over and the shops will be full to bursting with people trying to exchange unwanted presents, or hoping to grab some bargains in the sales.
Meanwhile, all the online customer service helplines will be permanently busy as angry buyers demand to know what the heck happened to their parcels. Didn’t this wretched company realise how disappointing it was that Auntie Mabel’s DVD didn’t arrive on time? It was Poldark, for goodness’ sake! Her Christmas was ruined.
I’ve had my own palaver with an online retail company that shall be nameless. I’d ordered seven items at the beginning of December, and they were supposed to arrive by the 10th. They didn’t. When they were a week overdue, I went onto the website to check tracking details. They had been dispatched, and had arrived at a local depot on the 6th December. They’d even been loaded onto the van! Yet they hadn’t arrived.
I couldn’t speak to an online agent as they were all busy. Permanently, apparently. So, reluctantly, I had to rummage around to find the house phone that we never, ever use and don’t even know the number for, and ring the freephone number so I could speak to someone in person. Horror! I hate talking on the phone to real, actual people. It makes me very nervous, which isn’t great when you’re trying to explain something which, it turned out, was so complicated that it took 45 minutes to sort out.
Honestly! A full 45 minutes! Good job it was a free number. After checking with the delivery company, who shall also be nameless in case I’m tempted to call out loudly in frustration – you know, a bit like they do in the Swiss mountains, ahem – I was informed that said company’s tracking department had, er, lost track of the parcels. They were officially missing. The only solution, apparently, was for the retailers to cancel my order and place another one. Which they did. Except three of the items were out of stock, so I had to order alternatives. Only, not right then, please, because the agent didn’t have time, so could I browse at my leisure and order again a bit later?
Well, I had no choice, did I? Although I was a bit miffed to be charged another £3.99 for delivery. Anyway, the replacement parcels were promised for the 19th and – YES! They arrived, although it was touch and go as they only arrived in the evening when I’d just about given up on them. Good result, right? Well, yes, except it wasn’t only those parcels that arrived, but the other seven that were officially missing, too! Aarrgghh! Blood pressure rising, nerves shattered and patience disappearing rapidly.
So there I was with fourteen parcels in my living room, and suddenly I was sitting in the middle of a warehouse. Funnily enough, the retail company got in touch almost immediately to inform me that they were aware I’d received all fourteen and had therefore re-charged me for the initial seven. How kind of them. Amazing how quickly they can work when it suits them!
Returns have now been arranged and the seven unwanted items will be repackaged and sent back and I have sworn to myself that, next year, I will actually go into physical shops and buy the presents I need there and then. Since shopping is my idea of hell – particularly at Christmas time – I’m already dreading the day. Dear family and friends, please don’t be offended if you all end up with gift vouchers. I still love you, honestly!
What with that and the saga of our Christmas tree, things have been less than festive here recently. Did I mention the Christmas tree? No? Well, every year we have a huge tree – around 8ft tall and really thick and bushy, with snowy branches and pine cones. It’s gorgeous, and we love it, even though it totally fills the bay window and dominates the entire room, especially since we moved to this smaller house. But earlier this year, we’d replaced our two small sofas with a larger sofa and two armchairs. This meant that one of the armchairs had to go into the bay window. Which also meant … no room for the tree! Disaster! We tried to think of a way around it, we really did, but the truth is, even if we’d managed to get one of the chairs upstairs (which is doubtful) there was no room to put it anywhere up there. Short of shoving the chair in the garden for a couple of weeks, there was no option but to accept that, this year, we were going to have to settle for a smaller tree.
I say smaller. I mean minute. Well, that’s how it feels to us anyway. It said 4ft on the box, but once we’d assembled it and stood back to look at it – in some dismay and total disbelief, it has to be said – we both agreed it couldn’t possibly be that tall. We measured it, and it was only 3ft 10″, which made DH even more depressed and a teensy bit cross.
It’s standing on a lamp table in the living room, and we had to pick out our absolute favourite baubles to decorate it with, as there was no way we could put them all on. Unfortunately, because of our usual big tree, the baubles are mostly quite big too. When we put some of them on they nearly toppled our Christmas twig over! So some have been hooked over cupboard door handles and drawer handles instead, and our twig is valiantly coping with the strain of the lightest, smallest decorations we possess. The kids keep pointing at it and laughing every time they come to visit. Even the dog looks scornful.
Oh well … we’ve gone to town on the tinsel and lights this year, draping them around every surface we could find to brighten the place up. It may look a bit tacky but it’s cheerful. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find the armchair out in the garden next year, though. In fact, we may even build it its very own shed in preparation. Anyway, it might not have gone exactly to plan, but it’s nowhere near as stressful as Christmas 2014, as you may recall if you read my blog post back then. If not, you can find it here.
Before I go, I have some news for you! Now that Christmas at Cuckoo Nest Cottage is officially on sale and doing quite well, too, (huge thanks to everyone who’s bought it!) I can reveal that the entire Bramblewick series is now available in one volume, and you can pre-order it here. Yes, all six novels have been packaged together, and will be available from January 31st. It costs just £3.99 so you’re basically getting two of the novels for free, and it will also be FREE to read if you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited. Yay!
Right, that’s me officially done with work for the year, although I have a sneaky feeling I’ll be picking up a notebook and pen at various points throughout my so-called time off. Well, I do have the third and final Castle Clair book to deliver next, and it won’t write itself, will it? 🙂
All that’s left for me to say to you all now is, thank you so much for sticking by me and supporting me this year. Thanks to everyone who’s bought one of my books, downloaded them through Prime or Kindle Unlimited, listened to an audio book, ordered a paperback, subscribed to my newsletter and/or this blog, left a review, followed me on Facebook or Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest. You are all superstars, and I really do appreciate you so much.
Have a merry Christmas, and I’ll see you next year!