What is going on here? As I instruct Warren to pull together tables 1 and 3 to form some sort of production line, something Toyota would have been proud of - minus all the robots, computers and moving conveyor.
Tables that were once used to serve beer and food are now being used to create vegetable boxes and other essential items for our community. I have never seen so many Savoy Cabbages, Cucumbers, Carrots, Spuds, Melons, Pineapples and green beans in a single room before. However, before we start this process, we must first build the boxes. My fight with the tape gun begins. It looks like a simple apparatus- you're supposed to just insert the roll of tape, find the end, pull through the slit at the front, and roll the gun wherever tape is needed. Needless to say, before I created any boxes, I had to master this piece of complex machinery. Challenge accepted! Success! I promptly went on to proudly tape:
Warren's arms to his sides
Warren's mouth shut (long overdue!)
Beaker's ball to the back of a Chair
my legs to create a rudimentary wax tape for hair removal
myself up to see how strong the tape is
93 minutes later, I created my first box, with way too much tape, but it was certainly very strong. This went out to a family in Moreton in Marsh, who must be thinking, 'they have got way too much time (and tape) on their hands. Another 56 minutes passed, and we have 18 boxes made, 11 smaller boxes for just veg and a further 7 large ones for both fruit and veg.
Preparing the boxes
With my 'Let's get everything on Excel' attitude and Warren's label obsession, I created the master spreadsheet which had all the orders, who were they for and what extra items they wanted. Warren spent a disproportionate time on his label maker to ensure we looked professional. I later told him we could have used Excel Mail Merge to create the labels from my Master Spreadsheet. The world's loudest 'tut' followed.
This part was strangely satisfying. Filling the boxes with goods, weighing each portion so they were equal. We included 2kg of Maris Piper potatoes. It took me a long time to get this quantity right, I was looking for the last potato for one batch to come in at 92g exactly! After weighing around 25 potatoes I found one that was 102g. I accepted the tolerance of 10g was acceptable, especially as it was over by 0.5%.
By the time I weighed the next 3 batches, I became less fussy. So, some of you would have received 2.12kg, some 2.28kg, some 2.02kg, I can only apologise for my lack of accuracy, especially if your recipes call for exactly 2kg of potatoes!
Preparing for 22 orders should have been simple. We had 4 orders without the veg boxes, so we tackled those first. They had milk and butter in their orders, we couldn't create those yet as they needed to be refrigerated. For these, they had a big label on them displaying the missing items.
Unpracticed packaging skills
We proceeded to go through the list and build each order one by one. We had to create more yeast portions, more flour packs and do something that every green grocer can do in their sleep and that is to grab 4 apples, place in a brown paper bag and twist the entire contents two revolutions to create a spiral seal at the top corners.
My attempt at this was less than gracious. Not that any apples went flying, but the bag ripped on 3 attempts. The centre of mass for the apples and bag was flawed, resulting in an unequal balance of force towards the outside, causing the paper to lose structural integrity and tear. I adapted my next attempt so I was holding the bag, around 80% towards the top, this compensated with reduced force so the paper bag remained intact. RESULT! I was then on a roll and created three further apple portions.
Now, I'm sure Amazon has way more sophisticated systems to manage traffic, reduce miles and other smart data processing algorithms, but a printed map with stop off points, followed by a black biro to mark the route will do me just fine.
FILO - First in, last out
Packing up the car required some care and attention. After the route was established, we needed to pack up the Volvo. We adopted the FILO principle. This would have worked brilliantly if it wasn't for my assumption that addresses with Chipping Norton in them meant that they are in Chipping Norton itself.
Turns out this is not always the case, they are in Foscot, Bledington and Idbury. A minor set back, which I overcame swiftly. A bigger issue was cottages with no house numbers, just the name of the cottage. This involved lots of kerb crawling, asking locals and lots of walking. 3 hours later, I returned back to the pub just in time to join in the clapping, followed by a welcome break as we joined our village Zoom quiz!
Vegetable Boxes to our Community.... Done!