F.A.C.T – A very long day.

On Saturday I was taking part in an event for F.A.C.T which raises awareness of cancers of all types and gives people support, advice and practical solutions to the challenges encountered with cancer. The event was being held in the Metrocentre, the first event of its kind to be hosted in a shopping mall, and there were strict rules to which we had to adhere.

We had to arrive and set up well before the opening time of 9 am and the stall had to be manned at all times throughout the day, with all clearing up to be done after 7 pm. Nothing could be sold, nor orders taken so my Herbal Clinic stall offered literature and free 10 minute consultations. Billy had kindly agreed to be my glamorous assistant so that I could pop to the loo when needed and so we set off at 8 am – though by the time we finally found the right entrance and walked through from behind the shops to the Exhibition Square, we only had 10 minutes to set up. (Luckily this was eminently doable!)

As it turned out, my stall had been placed adjacent to fellow business owner and friend, Sarah’s (providing wigs both privately and through the NHS) and had we known this, Billy could have spent the day relaxing and watching The Ryder Cup as Sarah and I could keep an eye on each other’s stall if needed. Nevertheless, I was glad of Billy’s practical help and his moral support and appreciated it.

It was a very long day and there were times when it really dragged – and then little flurries of activity. I gave advice as planned, but I also did some networking with the other businesses and organisations there and got to know one really lovely lady called Pamela, from Look Good…Feel Better As luck had it, the stall opposite Sarah and I was Boots and they had store staff covering it in shifts doing mini-makeovers and handing out free samples – one of each of which found their way into each of our handbags 🙂 Billy sat with me at times, fetched coffee, food and water at others and occasionally managed a break himself though to our disappointment Wetherspoons was closed for refurbishment meaning he couldn’t go for to watch a bit of the sporting action. (In fact we feel there is a distinct gap in the market for a man-crèche of the bar-and-sports-TV variety in the Metrocentre!)

Friends also appeared during the day to say hello and see how things were going, and Nel arrived mid-afternoon to collect Billy to go to Pets At Home with her. She’d wanted a Roborovski hamster for a while, had been very unhappy since losing Nel the hamster and Simon and Claire had very kindly popped in to the shop the previous day to establish whether they had any in. Once Nel knew they had, she was keen to get one and needed someone over 18 to buy it, so off they went and when they returned, she was smiling broadly and clutching a little box – with TWO hamsters inside it! Apparently they are social creatures and like company and Nel was 100% sure that they were both male so opted for a pair.Everyone oohed and aahed and wanted to see but of course, the box had to stay shut for the journey home.

Lesley, one of the F.A.C.T founders and owner of Bouncing Back in Gateshead came round at about 5 pm with a box of fruit to keep us all going and we were all starting to flag a little by this time. However, Lesley felt the day had been a success and was very pleased so this perked us up.

Finally, 7 pm arrived and we cleared up, said our goodbyes and loaded up the car before deciding to treat ourselves to a quick bite at Pizza Hut as a reward for our efforts and to save us cooking when we got home. We chose to go to the one outside the shopping mall – which was a mistake I think. There were plenty of staff but all quite young and more interested in chatting together than in their customers – there was even some sort of disagreement and one flounced off to the kitchens clearly upset by something which the others found highly amusing. We sat next to a waist-high wall which separated the dining area from the walk-way between dining, kitchen and bar areas and at one point our waitress just leaned over it to put Billy’s drink refill on the table. The staff were polite but not sincere and certainly not in any hurry. We waited 15 minutes to have our order taken and were finally served our food at 8 pm. We finished by 8.15 and then had to wait an age, ignored by the rest of the staff, for our waitress to make up the bill so we could pay. Very unusually for us, we did not leave a tip as we didn’t feel one had been earned. All that said – the food was delicious 🙂

When we got home, I immediately went to see Nel and her new little furry babies and they are SO cute! They’re tiny and such a pretty colour. She has named them Lev and Mimski – Lev is a camera loving little scruff and Mimski is shyer and tidier.

Lev the poser
Lev on his house
Lev in his wheel


  1. Pizza Hut apologised for the poor service, when I mailed them, said they’d had some extra staff training and they sent me a £10 gift card to use next visit which was very nice of them. No intention of using it at that particular store though.


  1. […] Hut for dinner as I had a “2 main meals for the price of 1″ voucher and when I’d complained about the poor service at the Metrocentre store, the company had sent me a £10 gift card so we had that to use too. Billy decided to have the […]

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