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2020 … a year in review and it aint over yet !!

The following is a long post…. DO NOT feel you need to read it… i have written it mainly for my own reflection and record of the things i want to remember about this year that was…. 2020… we all lived it together and know what happened, but i doubt generations in the future will believe us in 20 years time… i do a review of my year, each and every year… this is the only one i will probably post, as it has been an exceptional year, now none of the following is intended to offend anybody.

Jan 2nd 2020….. 9am… Open trading for the year

first weeks of January….. a continuation of the most devastating, destructive and ferocious bushfires the eastern seaboard of Australia has experienced, destroying native animals and forests.

For us personally…. Traceys parents, Stella & Alan who live in Nowa Nowa ( just past Lakes Entrance), had been staying with us for Christmas and didnt know if they had a home to return to… luckliy my brother in Law Craig was one of the firefighters down there and during his breaks from firefighting was able to let us know if there home was still there.

Our employee Jo, was also down there over the Christmas break on holiday, so we were glad to get her back home safe and sound as well. We had other locals, customers & friends trapped in communities affected by bushfires and were glad to see them back safe and sound in our home town again as well.

January and February were so intense with sadness of the losses from the bushfires, we all knew somebody affected and were all motivated to in one way or another help those communities, either by donations, fundraisers, or ensuring on our own breaks, we visited those towns and spent money with the shops to help get them all going again.

Australia Day weekend… Harry & Stephanie… actually worked together on something, thanks to donations from our local baker Matt and the butchers, the kids did a sausage sizzle and raised over $300 for the Healesville sanctuary to help with the injured wildlife from the bushfires. One of our friends Geri, that works at the animal hospital at Healesville allowed the kids to go in and see an injured Koala operated on.

Geri, Harry & Steph at animal hospital @ Healesville Sanctuary

After such an intense start to the year, it only had to get better… right !!

February 11th… 1pm….. the phone call parents dread…. Harry has had an accident at school….. Harry has actually broken his bone in his arm… it was the second time in 12 months Harry had done this… the first time was only a fracture, but this time he did it properly

Stephanie keeping herself occupied at Hospital with selfies on dads phone

We went straight from school to the Angliss, where we sat in emergency for 6 hours, before we were transferred to Maroondah, where we had to stay the night. Harry had rods put in his arm and we were home by lunch time the next day.

This was the break that kept us busy all year.. with Hospital visits, days off school, etc etc… i have never been to a hospital so many times in my life and was concerned about harry missing a lot of school in his last year… but something else was going to make that worse.

February 18th … unbeknown to my family, my sister in law Michelle, from England, had wanted to have a holiday in Australia, so between the 2 of us, we decided to surprise her parents Stella & Alan and the rest of the family and smuggle her in. Do you know how hard it is to organise a family to turn up at a single place at the same time for no reason at all… it is near impossible, so we used stellas birthday as an excuse and i told them i has organised a surprise guest, they know an ex afl coach is a customer of ours, so i kind of led them to believe a celebrity was coming… in my eyes, Michelle is a celebrity !!… there was a lot of the usual, im busy bullshit, or im tired can we do it another night, so i roped in my other sister in law Georgie and it was on…. and the 3 of us got them all good.

This would have to be one of the highlights of the year, but sadly the 2 girls and i have only proven to the others… that we are good liars … all for a good cause of course…. but possibly not to be trusted together as a threesome ever again… because if the 3 of us are together… somethings being planned !!!….. we still got them all good !!….

Michelle worked with us at Paddys for a few weeks and we loved having her here, we could have kept her forever as she just slotted in like she belonged here, but sadly her hubby Tony and son Joel… may have missed her a little bit, so we had to return her back to blighty.

It was only at this point we were learning about some virus from China that was spreading….. We had just been through the most devastating bushfires to Australia’s wildlife and forests… who cares about a stupid cold from China… wasn’t that about to change.

March to May… Covid 19 ramps up in Australia and to be honest… the dates and happenings of this from this point on, really are a blur… we all lived it, but we were all on constant edge… some of us has been on constant edge since the previous October ( 2019), when the first bushfires started locally and we had the hottest week leading up to Christmas on record… so what else could happen… 2020 … was just like that… it was the year shit was going to happen, so just roll with it.

Family and friends here and overseas had to close businesses, had no employment, were struggling with the day to day… was our turn to come… we were not really an essential business.. or were we?

People were buying months worth of groceries, hoarding toilet paper, rice, flour, canned foods and the supermarkets couldn’t keep up with supply…. the world had gone mad… people were even assaulting each other over toilet paper…. really ???… it was chaos going shopping. we sold out of 3 months worth of vegie & herb stock within 3 days and couldn’t get seed supply to sow anymore… after all the goodwill and generosity of people after the bushfires, it was hard to believe they had snapped and gone bat shit crazy and selfish over this.

Stephanies new school uniform & home classroom… she loved Art

The Afl season was cancelled, Travelling was cancelled, which meant our trip to Scotland for a family wedding was off… for now…, we had to social distance and were only allowed X amount of people in shops at a time, we had to start wearing face masks in public, were only allowed X amount of people at your home at anytime, Anzac Day was to be in your driveway only, no gatherings for events, Birthdays, weddings, funerals, no Easter, no going out to restaurants or the movies, we couldnt even see our Mums for Mothers Day and later our Dads for Fathers day, lucky mine are suppliers for my business, so i was still able to see them… from 2 metres away, but better than nothing… then the home Schooling… or remote learning… we were reminded often by others that us parents are not teachers and were just to assist the children with their learning…… I have a great respect for the teachers out there… an even better one now… but i disagree… parents ARE the original teachers of our kids… if we didn’t instil in them, our morals, beliefs and rules at home and how we want them to behave in society, then your classrooms would resemble scenes from the movie Gremlins on a daily basis, you would need copious amounts of alcohol just to get through your day, i know some can still be little arseholes and mine have their days of it too, but they arrive to you in prep for moulding academically, most of us parents have already taught them rights and wrongs… now we have to teach them poetry… a whole friggin term of it… that was the most bullshit of the whole Covid 19… not the death, devastation, losses and tragedy … a whole tern of Poetry did my head in…. thank f–k for single malt whiskey.

Harry…. after 6 years of hating school… started to actually take an interest… just hated zoom meetings

but we got through it… that was 2020… shit happens, just deal with it.

now we were still going back and forth to hospital with harry for arm check ups etc etc, he needs rod out, but cant get surgery as it is not essential at this stage.

the nursery has been busy, tracey work has been busy, we have been working 7 days a week since january 2nd… most of it, i have been up at 4am and finishing at 6pm, then cooking dinner,remote learning, etc, because traceys job is flat out and she was getting home later than usual… we are the lucky ones… there are no guarantees our jobs or business will remain open, so we will work until told not to and make hay while the sun shines…. we keep getting told we are not essential, but yet we are busier than ever…. people are bored stuck at home with nothing to do, so they come and get some plants to keep busy in the garden. We realised in March, that people were losing jobs and income, so we lowered our price of our average stock from $6.49 per pot to $5.69 each to allow peoples money to go further, yes it would be a small loss to us, but then in the long run it wasn’t, because people kept supporting us and kept buying more and more.

for quite a few months i had been setting up our online shop, with over 700 items to upload and describe and with high demand for products, that sold out before we had a chance to post… it was a nightmare… some of the plants take 6 months, 12 months, even 18 months from propagation to saleable size… we are NOT a bakery, so we cannot produce things over night… a lot of criticism came about why we didn’t produce more… well if we had known in 2018, what 2020 was going to be like… we would have… but only after warning the planet about Covid 19 and then being released from the loony bin, because none of you would have believed me 12 months ago.

so inevitably our time in the sun came with stage 4 lock down…we were all limited to only travelling 5kms for essential items, only members of your household were allowed to be there and everybody who was working had to have work permits or you would get a $5000 fine……. all non essential businesses had to close to public entry… that was our business… Traceys work was still to remain open, but under strict restrictions, so at least we had that. I was worried for my employee, how was she to survive, i knew we would be alright, but did i have enough in the bank to keep her going and was the govt allowances gong to be enough to get through…. i read up on the dos and don’ts from the vic gov website and so began click and collect and online shopping at Paddys Plants.

up went the SNOT screen for click and collect sales

We had to construct a safety wall and swinging gate ( SNOT screen), so that customers could order their plants online, then if they were in the 5km zone, they could collect their orders, or if they were up to 20kms from us ( as the crow flies), we would deliver to their doors.

Well this was the busiest we have ever been in our history… Jo, Tracey, the kids and i have never been so busy, with nobody even in the place. We followed the government rules and procedures and it was the best we had ever done… again… we were the lucky ones. We could have done with more staff, but were not allowed to introduce anybody into our already set environment. We are eternally grateful to our locals and regulars for there support during this lock down….. they all kept us going and gave us the best distraction to what was going on in the world…. again, we have been working 7 days a week since january 2nd…. and loving it…. no time for being tired or poor me im sore, exhausted, need a break… no time for that… people need us, they need stock to play in their gardens and escape the real world… the government don’t think we are essential, but our public do and they need us as much as we need them …..bugger you Covid, as long as we have sun, rain, soil and alcohol, you are not stopping us enjoying ourselves.

Mad Dog… Paddys newest member

I loved the home deliveries… i had to keep a log book for contact tracing with all sorts of details… just in case… it was a little extra work and record keeping, but worth it. The kids always name our vehicles… this one is Mad Dog… no idea why, but Steph just came up with it… so it stuck.

Mad Dog and i went everywhere within our 20kms…. to lots of our regulars multiple times…. everybody else lock down, was my freedom and i virtually had the roads to myself… im sorry if this offends, its not meant to, i know others suffered financially, mentally etc, but this post is not about them, its my version of 2020 and as said many times.. i have been lucky in many ways and totally grateful…. i loved stage 4 lock down, i was able to go anywhere i liked, within my 20kms and thank god we live here in the Dandenong Ranges, just being free to travel around our zone was the break i needed for the year…… but that came to an end too, we re-opened and our customers came flooding back… its was great to see all the ones who didnt shop online, but our business had changed forever, we now had new customers, that love the online no waiting and still want click and collect and home delivery…. so we have had to change to suit the future and that means 2021, will be a new, different set up than pre July 2020…. you will see and it will work… it already has…. 2020 has given us no choice but to embrace and make change,….. cause sometimes shit happens and you just have to get on with it.

December 2020… the busiest month of the lot…mostly Harry related, as 2020 has been…. Harry went to his first day of high school at my old school Monbulk College…. i still cannot believe i have a child in high school…. Harry had surgery to remove the rod from his arm, sadly the bone had grown around it, so he missed out on some of the activities for the end of grade 6 and missed more school, missed the class photo for graduation, but at least had his graduation ceremony and dinner…. his graduation at the theatre at Monbulk college was the first time i had been inside that building since my own year 12 graduation, 27 years ago… the theatre had the same uncomfortable stinky seats and had the same students i graduated with …. except they were the parents of his classmates, so that was a weird experience….even weirder, looking across at the noisiest person there and realising, it was my son….. gets that shit from his Mother !!!….

Life in general for everybody, is busy this time of year, in reflection, this year we have had many ups and downs, supply issues, life issues, work issues, family issues, schooling issues, all sorts of things thrown our way… but thats been 2020….. we have also lost family, friends and customers to all sorts of ailments… we love them and will miss them all….. it has been a shit year, right from the start…… I will be celebrating New Years Eve this year, regardless of what going on in the world, just to make sure 2020 does indeed bugger off and hopefully 2021 is a more positive and enjoyable year for all of us on this planet.

The one shining light for us in 2020, is that even with all that has gone on and a lot i haven’t mentioned, because some of it i do want to forget, we have been kept busy by you… our customers and loyal supporters…. Our business has survived 2020 thanks to you and your support and would not have done without you all.

We Are Indeed the Lucky Ones

I would like to wish you all a Safe and Merry Christmas

and a Happy and better New Year in 2021

Happy Gardening and see you from the 3rd of January 2021

Paddy

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