I keep remembering things I had in the shop. A beautiful vase, a vintage Danish pottery dish. Pictures and mirrors. My toolbox and staple guns! My books. My upholstery foam…that must have burned well in the fire. Countless items of furniture. I have now even lost the concrete wall I use as a background for taking pictures for the web shop.
Everything is gone. I went to have a look yesterday and it was the saddest thing I have ever seen. My wonderful, beloved shop, my baby, my creative haven, my pride and joy… the thing I had built up and created all by myself and that I had poured my heart and soul into.
I saw a shell full of rubble. The sign is still up, looking strangely optimistic and almost untouched, as well as the stupid dead plants outside the shop that I should have chucked away ages ago. Inside it is a complete mess. Nothing to salvage. The roof has caved in, everything is burnt. A sad green ceramic coat hook peeps up from underneath the mountain of ashes as a vague reminder of the happy, colourful place my shop used to be – until that early Thursday morning, April the 28th 2016.
I was just having my breakfast, sorting the kids’ packed lunches and getting ready for the day when my friend phoned. It was 7.30am. “Did someone die? Who on earth calls this early?” I thought while running to the phone. “Have you heard it on the news?” she said. “Lethenty Mill is on fire”.
The thick plumes of smoke were visible from miles. As I drove up seeing Lethenty Mill in the distance I could only cry, knowing that what I would find would be horrific. I parked my car and ran over. They were all there, the guys from the cabinetmakers, the garage owners, my landlord and mill resident Allan – thank god he got out save, even if it was only in his pyjamas – and a crew of caring neighbours serving us coffee and tea. Eight fire engines and 55 fire fighters were trying to tackle the blaze but nothing could save my wee shoppe.
People have been so kind. Hundreds of messages of support on social media, via text and email, phone calls and people turning up at my door with flowers, chocolate and bottles of wine. I am truly blessed and overwhelmed by everyone taking the time to show they care. I know it was only a retail unit and ‘stuff’, nobody physically got hurt, but it felt like my heart got ripped out on Thursday. And I am sure I am not the only business owner in that building who feels like that. I have lost everything and wasn’t properly insured for this kind of event either. Yeah, bummer. So I gotta start all over again.
What will I do next? I need to think. It would be the obvious thing to just continue as soon as possible, finding new premises, gathering stock, getting that high speed train back on track again. But I need to think. I need a rest. I have used up way too much energy building my business the past four years without taking a breather and the destruction of my shop has suddenly put everything to a halt. You know how you realise how exhausted you are the first few days when you finish work and go on a holiday? That’s how I feel. Drained. Except, it’s not a holiday.
So my next steps? I am going to sleep on it. Not one night, not two, but pretty much all summer. And then I will be back. In one shape or another. But I will be back.
Thanks for sticking with me, you are all amazing.