Wishing Ourselves a Drier, Happier January 2

A slightly belated Happy New Year to you all. Although being Scottish, where we have a tendency to wish everyone a Happy New Year until January is out, I still consider it socially acceptable to post this now. Even if a little tardy.

Rewind 6 weeks ago and we were in a very different place to where we are now; physically, mentally and emotionally. We were feeling very positive about the business, some personal matters were resolving nicely and we could think of no better way to top off the year than with a cracking Christmas at home and a celebratory New Year at the Castle Dairy (if you haven’t been and like your food then go first opportunity).

It felt like nothing was likely to get in the way of our plans until like so many others in Cumbria, our house was flooded and our business affected by the devastation. We approached the situation as it made ourselves known to us with optimism, Darren confidently stating that ‘we will laugh about this one day’ as we positioned sandbags and moved not nearly enough of our belongings upstairs. It was unexpected and I think our naivety of what it would mean kept us afloat (apologies, I only spotted this unintentional but terrible pun on the reread) way beyond the water rising in our front yard, or as we waded through it for a night bag the following day, in fact right up until we discovered we were temporarily living without central heating and hot water, and sporadically electricity.

For the week after the flood our efforts were dedicated in full to sorting out our home. Cleaning, drying, cleaning, cleaning, emptying, drying and some more cleaning again. We wandered the streets like nomads when we couldn’t stand being in the house anymore. Work dropped on the priority list even though we craved the normality immensely. From what I recall I do think we launched a new website in the midst of it all but otherwise we just wanted our home back.

Our determination to stay in the house and camp out with the boys soon had to wain though. The practicalities of having two under-5’s balancing on floor joists was clearly not sensible so the rest of December became the busiest yet. We struggled but eventually found somewhere else to move to and then of course there was the moving, and the sorting of our house, and the transfer of bills, and the lack of Wi-fi to somehow resolve…. Christmas preparation began on 22nd December and not before.

So for us this year fizzled out. We made the most of Christmas and had a lovely day in our new home but it was not as planned. In fact there’s still a backlog of Christmas presents to be purchased for friends and family. Our New Year plans were cancelled as the Castle Dairy met the same fate as our home, and as we now live in the sticks it was a case of a fun but relatively quiet ‘Hogmanay’ at home.

The true Christmas spirit for us this year did not come from Christmas and all its frills as we know it but from the absolute community spirit that swept through Kendal. In particular our wonderful neighbours. We feel lucky to live on the street we do where everyone really does make an effort to know each other. However, the floods cemented this further as everyone pulled together and looked out for each other. I can’t remember the last time so many people wandered in and out of each other’s houses welcomed but uninvited. The one thing that makes going home manageable is the people we run into when we do.

It was also the support provided by St George’s Church. It became our community hub as we sat with our neighbours and ate soup, comparing notes and planning a serious trip to the pub once all this is over. They even let us login to their Wi-Fi and catch up on some work. St George’s Church – our satellite office. With so many volunteers there was somewhere to shelter from it all plus the rain, which let’s face it, hasn’t given us a break since all this began. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard a panicked ‘it’s going to flood again’.

It was also our friends and family who offered support before the water was even in the house. Plus I would be wrong not to mention Darren who has swept in with positivity and practical thinking when things have been at their most difficult, albeit with his t-shirt inside out.

So what has all this meant for Freshspace as a business? Thankfully there has not been a significantly negative impact. Working from home we’ve had some teething issues with Wi-Fi, phone lines (our new temporary telephone number is 01539 567 585) etc. We were lucky that we were in a strong position in time for December to hit so as much as this has shaken us to the core personally, the business remains intact. In fact we came out of the fog with two new clients which I think we’re still to celebrate and perhaps will do tonight with a glass of red and a pizza.

However, we’re now back in business. As of 4th January 2016 it was full steam ahead again and I can genuinely say it’s the best I’ve felt since all this happened. We had to say goodbye to last year on a downer, but we feel positive that this year will be a good one. Frankly, in regards to Freshspace it will continue to be what we make it and we intend to make it great. It will be a business moulded into the shape we choose, with ethics that we’re comfortable with and with a client list that inspires us.

So now as we sit in a kitchen which is not home but is offering us shelter, we accept that certain things are out of our control but the things that are and that matter to us will continue to have our full commitment. We are also reminded that we need a bigger kitchen with a dishwasher in our actual home.

Again, wishing you all a truly wonderful and prosperous 2016! And should anything go wrong, as it no doubt will, we hope whole heartedly that one day you can look back and laugh.

Article by Eilidh Nicholls